Horizon Theatre Blog

ArtsATL: “Y’allmark” brings comedy gold, Hallmark storytelling and a wall full of wigs



Narrator Topher Payne greets special guest Enoch King during a performance of “Y’allmark Christmas,” as improvisers Amber Nash and Kevin Gillese watch from the steps. (Photos by Lisa Adler)


Those Christmas-obsessed heroes and heroines from made-for-TV romances get to choose their own unscripted adventure in Y’allmark Christmas: An Improvised Holiday “Movie”, onstage at Horizon Theatre through December 23.

Though audiences can still expect that wholesome holiday spirit during every performance, each has a touch of wacky subversiveness as well. The show was devised by Amber Nash, star of TV’s Archer and a longtime Dad’s Garage improviser, and Topher Payne, an actual screenwriter of several Hallmark Christmas movies, including Broadcasting Christmas and A Gift to Remember.

“Topher was essential from the very beginning when I first had the idea to do this show,” Nash said. “There are other improv troupes doing Hallmark movie spoofs, but I can guarantee you they don’t have a real Hallmark movie writer narrating them.”

Payne, also an award-winning playwright, last appeared onstage at Horizon Theatre as the lead actor in their final production of David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries.

“Topher’s not just a writer,” Nash said. “He’s also a brilliant presence and stage performer. So it’s not like we’re pulling some curmudgeonly old writer out of a basement.”

The improvised show, which began in 2017 as a two-performer, 20-minute sketch at Dad’s Garage, now contains a rotating cast of performers, special guests from across Atlanta stages, two acts and an intermission. 

As the narrator in the original sketch and in the new show, Payne appears on stage alongside the improvisers, offering guidance to the story and “network notes” for when things go inevitably awry — like when a dreamy-eyed girl-next-door accidentally plummeted down the side of a snow-covered mountain at a Thanksgiving weekend performance.

Improvisers Freddy Boyd and Jamila Porter rehearse a scene from “Y’allmark.”

“I come in with the goal every night of writing a Hallmark movie, and I’m going according to network notes I’ve received before, brand-identity specifics that I have to keep in mind when I’m writing,” Payne said. “And the cast doesn’t have to try and mess with me. The comedy comes out of a group of people actually trying to do the movie right, the push and pull of that and moments of clarifying what is brand-specific versus what isn’t.”

At other points, Payne stops the show if the language gets too PG-13 or if the actors give their characters sexual impulses or a bleak backstory. This lends the show a behind-the-scenes feel, like the plays Noises Off and The Play that Goes Wrong.

This is the first co-production of Horizon Theatre and Dad’s Garage, and Nash finds the expanded show and the Horizon stage very exciting.

“In the beginning, it was just Topher and two improvisers,” she said. “For this run, we have a big, beautiful Christmasy set. We have many more costumes and wigs because, apparently, if you shake Horizon Theatre, wigs fall out of it. They have great stuff.”

The set for Y’allmark Christmas is the same set as Horizon’s previous production, Designing Women, but that construction, designed by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay, has been repainted and decked out with holiday regalia for the season. It also has coat racks and shelves filled with potential costumes and a wall full of wigs that performers can choose for their different characters.

Payne watches improvisers Freddy Boyd and Kevin Gillese rehearse a scene from “Y’allmark.” In the background is pianist Justin Geer.

The cast, featuring Nash, Kevin Gillese, Eve Krueger, Freddy Boyd, Jamila Porter and Joshua Quinn, will alternate between leading and supporting roles within each performance. Every performance will also feature a special guest star, such as Enoch King, Tom Key or Gina Rickicki. Having that expanded cast will also allow for diverse variations on the Hallmark brand of storytelling, Payne said. 

“We have nights with an all-female cast, nights with an all-male cast,” Payne said. “We have nights where it’s an entirely BIPOC cast, so we get to do stories from the Mahogany line. We’ve already done a round of that in rehearsal, and there’s an additional comedic element where it’s a story of an all-BIPOC cast created by this White guy.”

Audience suggestions are also taken during the show, which Dad’s Garage fans will find more familiar than Horizon patrons might. But the show should appeal to both audiences.

Krueger, who appeared in the cast of Designing Women and is company manager at Dad’s, suggested the partnership between the two theaters to Horizon artistic director Lisa Adler, who embraced the opportunity.

“It feels like communities coming together in a lot of ways,” Krueger said. “The Horizon audience and the Dad’s audience — there’s not a huge overlap in that Venn diagram, but I think this is a show that can hit both of them in a way that can really make everyone happy.”

Payne, sitting, shares a hug with “Y’allmark” cast member Kevin Gillese.

Adler said holiday programming has always been a staple of the Horizon season, so she was encouraged when Payne and Krueger brought the show from Dad’s.

“We didn’t have another show running, so it was crazy not to try,” Adler said. “It’s a fun opportunity.” 

Gillese first began performing in the sketch during the pandemic when he was quarantined with Nash, his wife. He always played his part during those months with a hint of reluctance, and the pair realized that challenging Payne as the writer was comedy gold.

The expanded Y’allmark still has those little clashes, which helps playfully skewer the genre.

“I am here as a representative of everyone who likes to make the occasional dig at the genre while still lovingly doing it,” Gillese said. “Sincerely, I think that people that love the Hallmark movies will love this show, and the people that hate those movies will also love this show.”


Benjamin Carr, a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, is an arts journalist and critic who has contributed to ArtsATL since 2019. His plays have been produced at The Vineyard Theatre in Manhattan, as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival, and the Center for Puppetry Arts. His novel Impacted was published by The Story Plant in 2021.

Square Blues on City Lights

A quest for activism across three generations in Horizon’s ‘Square Blues’

City Lights | WABE

August 2nd, 2022

“Square Blues” is on stage at Horizon Theatre through Aug. 21. (Photo credit: Greg Mooney)

Activism brings to mind many images: silent protestors sitting in at a whites-only restaurant demanding equal rights, high school students leading a movement for gun control, running for Congress to overhaul discriminatory policies.

The new play “Square Blues,” having its world premiere at Horizon Theatre, follows three generations of a Southern Black family, each with its own approach to activism. The playwright Shay Youngblood and director Tom Jones joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about the play. 

Interview highlights:

On confrontations with racism that inspired “Square Blues:”

“I was in graduate school at Brown University. I was sitting on the train, looking around. I picked up a copy of the New York Times that someone had abandoned. This was in 1992,” recounted Youngblood. “I looked at several articles, and I was just astounded by the racism that I saw in several of those articles. I looked around me on the train to see if anyone had read these articles and were just as outraged as I was. In that moment, I created the character ‘Square Blues,’ a man who has been living with racism, oppression, dealing with all kinds of obstacles in his life because of his race, and what is he gonna do about it? He’s angry, but what is he gonna do about it?”

“It was my thesis play,” Youngblood explained. “There is a family of activists. So the daughter, she is protesting everything. She’s very young, and she is out in the streets protesting, but then the fight gets very personal for her. Her father is all about reparations, and he’s not necessarily just wanting a check. He wants radical change… The grandmother, Blue’s mother, she was married to a Jewish man, actually sort of ‘underground married’ to him because it was illegal at that time, and it was illegal for Blacks and whites to marry until 1967. So this family comes together to figure out how can they support each other in their different generations of activism.”

A quest for justice echoing across generations:

“I think it really is an ensemble piece, and I think what she’s done really, really very poignantly and wonderfully well is to not put the piece on the shoulders of anyone because it really is about those three generations of activists,” said Jones. 

He later added, “Once you peel back the layers, each generation really does take on the same strategy, the same methodology – whether it’s sit-in, whether it’s protest, whether it’s civil disobedience – because what each generation is doing is flying in the face of laws that are unjust… From one generation to the next, I think that’s what’s so beautifully poignant about the piece is that each generation, though they think they’re different, begins to find that nexus; that, in fact, they do, at the point when things are most critical, at the point when you are most challenged… begin to resemble and resort to the same kind of strategies and tactics.”

How resistance actions look different in the rearview mirror:

“What people did in Birmingham, what people did in Selman, what people did in Atlanta, what people did in Mississippi, in trying to uncover what that injustice looked like, was also extreme in its own time,” said Jones. “The convenience of time makes it look as if it was much more tame than it was. When you sick fire hoses on people and German shepherd dogs, and when you’re blowing up churches on 16th street in Birmingham, that’s an extreme response to trying to change the country. So you jettison 20, 30 years later to 1992 in Karma’s generation, trying to bring awareness and AIDS awareness to her community, it looks extreme. And yet now through the lens of 2022, we look back and say, ‘Perhaps it wasn’t as extreme,’ as we begin to look at what the uprisings are in response to George Floyd.”

Jones added, “Each generation looks probably more extreme in its activism, and yet at its… core, it really is strategically the same thing. Nostalgia and memory has a way of coloring things in a way that you don’t get what the immediate impact [was] in its time.”

“Square Blues” is on stage at Horizon Theatre through Aug. 21. Tickets and more information are available at www.horizontheatre.com/plays/square-blues/

Horizon Presents the World Premiere of SQUARE BLUES

Horizon Theatre Company Presents the World Premiere of

A play about love and revolution
by Shay Youngblood

ATLANTA (JULY 2022) – Love and revolution are at the center of the world premiere of acclaimed Shay Youngblood’s play, Square Blues, about three generations of a southern Black family who share a passion for activism, art, and following your heart. But they don’t always agree on the methods, especially when their protests threaten their freedom and safety. Square Blues makes its premiere on the Horizon stage from July 22 – August 21 (Press Opening July 29). In this expansive, timely, and magical comedy-drama, the Blue family faces a crossroads. Only together can they find the courage to stand up for their beliefs as they redefine what makes a family and what holds it together.  Horizon is located in Little Five Points/Inman Park (1083 Austin Avenue N.E., Atlanta, GA 30307, at the corner of Euclid and Austin Avenues). Free parking.  Performances are Wed through Fri at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm, Sundays at 5 pm. Tickets and information are available at www.horizontheatre.com or 404-584-7450.

Directed by Thomas W. Jones II (Horizon Artistic Associate, Blackberry Daze, Da Kink in My Hair, Sweet Water Taste), Square Blues has “…a virtue of gut, urgency, and necessity…unadorned honesty…” (Edward Albee, Judge for the 21st Century Playwrights Award).  Shay’s first play Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery premiered at Horizon in 1988 and has been seen all over the world in the past three decades.   This production features a cast of Atlanta-based professional actors and designers from theatre and TV, including multi-award-winning resident set designers Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay.

Welcome to the Fifth Avenue Happy Café, an Atlanta kosher soul food restaurant and meeting place for civil rights activists in the 60s.   It’s now the early 90s and the Blue family, matriarch Odessa, son Square and granddaughter Karma are still serving up fried catfish and lemon pound cake and working for social change.  Square (played by Jay Jones) has been collecting names on petitions demanding financial reparations and a public apology for slavery for decades.  But now he’s holding a large (and illegal) tax refund received by claiming a Black Reparations tax credit.  His mother Odessa demands he pay it back before he is arrested. So does his long-time girlfriend and fellow activist Miss Tuesday.  Odessa doesn’t want to risk losing the cafe, which she was given by her great love, Blue’s father, a white Jewish Russian. They were rebels too, an interracial couple deeply in love in the 40s and 50s when intermarriage was illegal.  Odessa’s granddaughter Karma (played by Chantal Maurice) continues the activist tradition today in a new form, creating provocative public performance art with spray paint and nude models to bring attention to homelessness, LGTQ rights and AIDS/HIV.   She’s  in love with partner-in-crime Lola (Patty De La Garza), a Latinx poet who is coaxing her to move away to in California.   But when Karma ends up in jail for her “art actions” and Blue risks prison with his “black payback”,  the three generations of the family must decide how to move forward – together or on different paths -– and how much to risk in their quest for change.   

“We are thrilled to be premiering Shay’s play about passionate activists from three generations at this time of upheaval and change in our worldWith the great racial reckoning over the past two years, Square Blues is current and urgent,” comments Horizon Co-Artistic/Producing Director Lisa Adler.  “The play looks at how activism changes as we age and the need for each generation’s work and perspective.   What can we learn from the past? What needs to change to make progress?  What is the future of activism?  How can different generations work together to make progress? We hope that the play sparks discussion about how we can work together across generational divides to find common ground that unites and amplifies our effort for change.”

Horizon has a long history of collaboration with Shay Youngblood, having produced the World Premiere of her first play, Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery, in 1988.  It went onto many productions across the country including Ensemble Theatre of Houston, Pegasus in Chicago, Vital in NYC and was reprised at Horizon in 2010 (directed by Square Blues director Tom Jones), winning Atlanta’s Suzi Award for Best Production of a Play.  Horizon also produced her Talking Bones and Amazing Grace, and workshopped many of her plays, including Square Blues.  A fiction writer who turned her Big Mama Stories into her first play, she subsequently received her MFA in playwriting from Brown under Paula Vogel.  She has a had a long career as novelist (Black Girl in Paris; Soul Kiss), teacher, playwright, and visual artist, living all over the world.  She was born and raised in Columbus, GA, went to Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University), and recently returned to live in Atlanta, GA.  Shay is currently one of our Black Women Speak writers, commissioned to write a new work about Black Southern women. 

With Square Blues, I am looking at the very different strategies of three generations in a family confronting racism, oppression, injustice, and how they each stood up for their beliefs.” Shay wrote of the play recently. “Naked protesters, a wall mural created during the course of the play, interracial, intergenerational, racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and redefining what makes a family were all ingredients that made this my most topical play. Reparations for Black, Brown, and Indigenous people is a big part of the conversation in the play. I also wanted to show sensuality between these Black characters and how they dealt with the reality of their lives with a sense of humor and grace.”

“I love Square Blues’ vivid, passionate characters, the magic realism, the musicality of the language, the high theatricality of performance art protests on stage and creating a mural of famous Black leaders every night, the deep love between grandmother, father and daughter, and how different generations approach the call for change,” continues Lisa Adler.  “It’s thrilling to see Shay bring the craft she has learned as a writer over the last three decades to this deep, funny, and moving work.”

Horizon Theatre Company’s performances of Square Blues start July 22, 2022 (Press Opening July 29, 2022) and run until August 21, 2022 (possible extension through August 28) at Horizon in Little Five Points/Inman Park (1083 Austin Avenue N.E., Atlanta, GA 30307, at the corner of Euclid and Austin Avenues). Free parking.  Performances are Wed through Fri at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm, Sundays at 5 pm. Tickets start at $30 for weekdays and $35 for weekends. ($20 for full-time students under 25 with a valid student ID and $3 off full-price tickets for Seniors). Prices are subject to change and will rise as performances fill up.  

For tickets and information, visit  www.horizontheatre.com or call 404-584-7450.


Playwright Shay Youngblood

Director Thomas W. Jones II

Co-Artistic Director Lisa Adler

Set Designers Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay

Costume Designer Dr. L. Nyrobi Moss

Lighting Designer Mary Parker

Sound Designer Johnathon Taylor (Multiband Studio)

Projection Designer Robbie Hayes

Props Master Dionna Davis

Technical Director Jeff Adler

Asst. Technical Director Noah Auten

WABE: Interview

Horizon Theatre’s ‘Roe’ highlights the women involved in the historic Roe v. Wade case

Adron McCann | WABE

June 2nd, 2022

Jennifer Alice Aker and Rhyn McLemore in “Roe.” (Photo by Horizon Theatre)

Earlier this month, there was a leak of a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision in 1973 that led to legalized abortion in America. The personal journeys of the women involved in that historic case are at the heart of Horizon Theatre’s new production, “Roe.” The play’s director Lisa Adler joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes along with actors Jennifer Alice Acker and Rhyn McLemore to talk about “Roe” and its stirring portrayal of the women whose struggle for autonomy defined American abortion politics for decades.  

Interview highlights:

Two distinct perspectives looking back on history:

“It takes place over 20 years. So it starts in 1969 and 1970, right before Sarah and Norma meet, when Norma McCorvey, who is ‘Jane Roe,’ is pregnant,” said Adler. “It goes to about 1995, and then there’s also a piece at the beginning and end that is today. And the conceit of the show is that Sarah and Norma, at the end of their lives, are looking back and telling their stories to you. So they come out and they tell competing stories about this is what the story of ‘Roe’ is. And ‘Jane Roe,’ Norma McCorvey, tells hers, and Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued the case at the Supreme Court, tells hers.”

Why we should consider the personal stories behind Roe v. Wade:

 “I was one of the, I think, many people who did not know that Norma McCorvey did not in fact have an abortion,” said McLemore. “I think a lot of people historically just assume that because she’s Jane Roe at the heart of this historic case, dealing with abortion, that she had an abortion — she did not. I mean, that’s how little I knew about her before tackling the play, and her story is such a heartbreaking, complex one.”

“The thing I realized as I was doing research is that this poor woman just wanted to be seen by people and validated by people. She comes from a very broken home, a very tumultuous relationship with her mother,” McLemore continued. “The big challenge for me with this role was, why the heck did she flip-flop? Why did she go from being so adamantly pro-choice to pro-life? And that’s the big arc and journey that I have in this play, and it’s a big ol’ arc, let me tell you … In the [FX] documentary [‘AKA Jane Roe’], it is revealed that on her deathbed, it’s her deathbed confession that she says, ‘I was never really pro-life. I was paid a bunch of money by the pro-lifers to flip-flop.’ She really was manipulated throughout her life.”

On playing lawyer Sarah Weddington, who argued “Roe” at 26 years old:

“Absolutely one of the sharpest thinkers I’ve ever encountered,” said Acker. “A lot of my research has been reading her book, ‘A Question of Choice,’ which, the clarity and conciseness of thought, but with the emotional nature of it, the human nature, the way she communicates and relates to people; watching her in video interviews as well, she has a sparkle in her eye that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room. She really hears and sees you. So she was almost this uniquely poised figure. I wonder if she’s the only woman in America who could have done it at that time.” 

“I believe she also did the case pro bono, because no one would hire her as a woman. She was trying to get a law firm job and could not book it. We discuss that in the play a little bit.” Acker added. “So truly an exceptional figure, and she was an advocate for her entire life. She was an advocate for women’s rights before this case; that’s how she found herself in the Supreme Court in 1972 in 1973 … Her entire life was just defined by fighting for the rights of women.” 

ArtsATL: ROE Review

Review: Horizon’s “Roe” offers choice to be informed about issue of the moment


“It is really hard to talk objectively about history,” a character states during Roe, which continues at Horizon Theatre through June 12. And how true that is, given that history is still being written about the matter at this very moment.

Just a week before this exuberant and exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) production of Lisa Loomer’s 2017 play opened earlier this month, a leaked draft from the conservative majority Supreme Court became public. It declared its intention to overturn the almost 50-year-old landmark Roe v. Wade decision that affirmed that women have a constitutional right to privately decide what to do with their pregnancies.

The Roe story presented here spans several decades and features key real-life characters such as Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued and won Roe v. Wade at the age of 26, as well as the “real Jane Roe” herself, the fascinatingly complex Norma McCorvey. Loomer’s work debuted at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., just two weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the year of the Women’s March.

Looking back, the first month of 2017 feels like an entirely different era altogether. Pre-#MeToo, pre-pandemic, pre-George Floyd, pre-insurrection and pre-Trump’s appointment of enough anti-choice Supreme Court justices to begin rolling back laws that, perhaps, many had taken for granted not so long ago.

As born-again Christian pastor and extremist anti-choice activist Flip Benham, actor Daniel Parvis “excels in smarminess,” writes ArtsATL critic Alexis Hauk.

Roe’s first act spans 1969 to 1989, while the second deals just with a pivotal three years in the early ‘90s, then jumps forward to today. The “today” of 2017, that is. So, in some strange ways, the play, as directed by Lisa Adler, feels simultaneously more relevant than ever while also oddly dated. Again, though, the issue is that history is currently being scrawled across TV news screens in real time, and the outlook is grim for women — especially poor women of color who are disproportionately impacted by anti-choice legislation.

Recognizing the exponentially growing distance between our present and the relatively recent past has become easier to spot. It’s there whenever a piece of art or comedy that captured the zeitgeist just five or so years ago now, upon rewatch, seems stale or adorably
naïve (at best). Consider, for instance, how many have noted that Lin Manuel-Miranda’s magnum opus Hamilton did not age so well in the short intervening years between its phenomenal stage success and its debut on Disney+ in 2020.

Norma McCorvey, who died in 2017, led a tumultuous life. She was raised by an abusive mother in Louisiana and had a brief marriage to an abusive man when she was 16. She was also a lesbian finding her way into adulthood during a deeply intolerant time when it could be dangerous on every level to come out of the closet. Initially, she sought legal help in Texas because she thought it would help her find a doctor to perform an abortion. However, by the time the case was settled almost a year later, she had wound up having to carry her pregnancy to term and give up the baby for adoption.

For decades, McCorvey spoke at pro-choice, Second Wave feminist rallies, even living with Gloria Allred for a time (which yields in the play a fun musical interlude with a number from Gypsy changed to “Everything’s Coming Up Roe”). But later in life, she became disillusioned with the feminist movement, which she perceived as using her as a symbol without caring about or supporting her as a person. At that point, she converted to evangelical Christianity and became a strong supporter of anti-choice organizations and politicians.

Played with empathy and charisma by Rhyn McLemore, Norma is a tricky part to pull off. The character can be irreverent and funny, and it’s hard not to sympathize with the rotten hand she’s been dealt over and over. But she can also come across as selfish, manipulative and misguided. She hurts those around her. Her decisions can be befuddling and enraging and all too understandable. That’s the making of a great character study.

Jennifer Alice Acker is compelling, as well, as Sarah Weddington, who became a star in women’s advocacy for the rest of her life (she died last December). Her sarcasm and gutsiness are delightful as she channels Julia Sugarbaker with tongue-in-cheek comments such as, “I was so focused on my career that I let my subscription to Good Housekeeping lapse.”

Daniel Parvis as Flip Benham mines some sharp comic delivery skills in several parts that could be summed up as “misogynists who mean well.” Particularly as bigoted born-again Christian pastor Flip Benham, whom Norma at first calls “Flip Venom,” Parvis excels in smarminess. The real-life Benham, part of extremist anti-choice organization Operation Rescue, has a long list of awful deeds, including stalking a doctor in Charlotte, to the point where the pastor was ordered to stay 500 feet away, and protesting outside the weddings of gay couples. But here, Parvis demonstrates through slimy charm just how Norma might have gotten seduced by Flip’s master salesman techniques. We first meet him at the top of Act Two as he greets the audience with a cheery, “Welcome. Welcome to the gates of hell!” grinning like an anti-choice Charles Manson.

Rhyn McLemore imbues the “fascinatingly complex” and challenging role of McCorvey with charisma and empathy. Here, McCorvey (center) takes the podium at a rally.

Other cast standouts include Lorraine Rodriguez-Reyes as Connie, Norma’s long-suffering partner. Shelli Delgado does fine work in the ensemble as one of the Kool-Aid-drinking extremists at Operation Rescue, who manipulates through sunshiny friendliness. Though underutilized in this production, the talented Jasmine Renee Ellis has some nice moments, too, particularly as a woman trying to find a clinic to get an abortion, only to get tricked and guilt-tripped by anti-choice activists.

Over the nearly three-hour run time, the play also presents how accounts of the same events may conflict with one another, accurately reflecting the multiple versions, sometimes told in different ways by the same person. Characters frequently break the fourth wall to deliver epilogues for their characters.

There are clever and delightful tricks in the writing where the same character enters and replays the scene twice, such as an empathetic doctor first and the second time with a vague but thick foreign accent and questionable medical ethics. This illustrates the two different characterizations that Norma wrote in her two books.

On the other hand, some of the play’s parts don’t work as well — often when dramatic tonal shifting is involved. For instance, a consciousness-raising scene is part Vagina Monologues, part harrowing documentary, as it moves abruptly from body-related joke-telling to brutal and detailed descriptions of what pre-Roe abortion was really like.

This production, I should note, has experienced challenges due to the continuing pandemic, with some cast replacements on the night I attended. Most of those were seamless and impossible to spot without prior knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes. So it’s also remarkable to behold the agility that Horizon and other theater companies have adopted to present timely programming.

Ultimately, after this epic experience of fascinating history, character exploration and depressing déjà vu, the biggest questions I walked away with were, “What can we now make of this?” What does this show offer to a May and June 2022 audience that we aren’t already viscerally feeling? Does it offer catharsis for anyone who might be deeply worried about the state of women’s rights? Not necessarily. Does the play offer interesting context and valuable insight into what preceded this moment? Yes. Does that make for a satisfying evening of entertainment? That depends on your mood and whether you’re looking to escape or fully plug into the ever-updating news scroll of history.


Alexis Hauk has written and edited for numerous newspapers, alt-weeklies, trade publications and national magazines including Time, the AtlanticMental Floss, Uproxx and Washingtonian magazine. Having grown up in Decatur, Alexis returned to Atlanta in 2018 after a decade living in Boston, Washington, D.C., New York City and Los Angeles. By day, she works in health communications. By night, she enjoys covering the arts and being Batman.

AJC Article: “Horizon Theater stages story of ‘Roe’ as decision faces reversal”

Horizon Theater stages story of ‘Roe’ as decision faces reversal

Rhyn McLemore (left) plays Norma McCorvey and Jennifer Alice Acker plays Sarah Weddington in the Horizon Theatre's Atlanta premiere of "Roe," a play that tells the story of the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The show opens as a document leaked from the Supreme Court indicates it is likely to overturn that landmark ruling. Photos: Horizon Theatre

By Bo Emerson, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

May 9, 2022

The uncanny timing at the Horizon Theatre, which will give the abortion rights drama “Roe” its Atlanta premiere beginning Wednesday, May 11, isn’t completely uncanny.

The Little Five Points ensemble planned to mount the production in 2020 but COVID-19 intervened.

In the fall of 2020, as the theater looked ahead toward eventually re-opening, co-founder and co-artistic director Lisa Adler had second thoughts about programming “Roe,” which was guaranteed to spark heated debate.

Then, a week before election day 2020, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed, solidifying a conservative majority on the court.

Constitutional law expert Eric Segall, who has conducted “community conversations” after shows at the theater, and whose wife Lynne is a member of the Horizon’s board, told Adler that Roe v. Wade would probably come under the gun. “He told us this decision is likely to come in May or June (2022),” said Adler.ADVERTISING

“I said, ‘that’s it. We’re doing this.’”

As a result, Atlanta audiences will have a chance to see the genesis of Roe v. Wade, and the story of the unlikely pair of women who made it happen, within a week of the revelation that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn the landmark ruling.

At the center of the drama is Sarah Weddington, one of only five women in her University of Texas Law School class of 1964. She was 26 years old when she first appeared in front of the Supreme Court, and she had never tried a case before.

Sharing that spotlight is Norma McCorvey, listed in the lawsuit as “Jane Roe” to protect her privacy, who was pregnant for the third time at age 21 when she became the plaintiff in the famous case. After she published her autobiography in 1994, “I Am Roe,” she met activist and evangelist Flip Benham, converted to Christianity and joined the anti-abortion movement.

Daniel Parvis plays Flip Benham, a founder of Operation Rescue and anti-abortion activist, in the Horizon Theatre's production of "Roe," a play that tells the story of the two women who changed reproductive law. Photos: Horizon Theatre

Credit: Horizon Theatre

Many of the details in the story of Roe v. Wade are not familiar to the general public, said Adler. “I am a heavy feminist, and I knew almost nothing of what was in the play,” she added. “And if I don’t know the story, there’s a ton of other people that don’t know the story.”

Adler, who is directing the production, said that playwright Lisa Loomer “did a ton of research. The play is both a great story and an incredible history lesson.”

Adler said Loomer clearly has a point of view in the play, which is a call for reproductive freedom. “It comes down to who gets to choose: The individual or the state? That is the crux of the conversation.” But Loomer imbues the characters on both sides of the issue with deep humanity. “She lets you see the honest passions behind the people that believe in pro-choice and the people that believe in pro-life.”

At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, after the 3 p.m. show, Eric Segall, professor of law at Georgia State University, and Staci Fox, former CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, will hold a “community conversation” at the theater, discussing the issues brought up in the drama, and the possible repercussions if Roe is overturned.

Current events have made the play a vital course of study, but have also made it somewhat traumatic for the cast members. “Everybody is really upset,” said Adler. “They’re on an emotional journey. It’s horrifying, it’s disturbing.”


Performances glow in Horizon’s topical ‘Light’

Horizon Theatre’s romantic comedy-drama “The Light,” continuing through April 17, co-stars Cynthia D. Barker and Enoch King.
Courtesy of Horizon Theatre

By Bert Osborne, For the AJC • April 1, 2022

Just how extraordinary are the performances of Cynthia D. Barker and Enoch King in Horizon Theatre’s topical two-character love story “The Light”? By now, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to avid theatergoers already familiar with their acting work over the years that there’s very little that either of them can’t capture and portray with absolute conviction, precision and authenticity.

In Loy A. Webb’s invigorating 75-minute play, which is by turns blithely romantic and boldly relevant, they’re a Chicago couple celebrating their second anniversary. She’s Genesis, a school principal, and he’s Rashad, a firefighter with a young daughter from a previous relationship. From their opening interactions, the co-stars create and maintain a breezy comedic rapport and chemistry that’s utterly tangible. And when circumstances eventually take a dramatic turn during the last half of the production, no two scene partners have ever seemed quite so evenly balanced or equally matched.

In the many impassioned exchanges that transpire between the characters, Barker and King are each capable of transfixing the audience’s attention with a consummate aplomb. It’s not easy to look away from whomever is holding court at any given moment, but I gradually made a point of also keeping an eye on the one who was silently listening at the same time. Their articulate speeches are skillfully handled, and their nuanced and non-verbal reactions to what they’re hearing are every bit as rewarding to watch. That’s how extraordinary these performances are.

It’s as though Genesis and Rashad can talk about anything with one another. At first, that manifests in a lot of delightfully crackling banter, with both of them trading good-natured, knowing jabs at the expense of the other. But it means confessing or expressing some of their most private thoughts and concerns, as well.

The play takes place in 2018. At work, dealing with the “dangerous alternative views” of one of her teachers about the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, amid the controversial sexual assault allegations leveled against him, Genesis is torn between her own “complicated” personal opinions on the issue and her professional obligations to uphold school policy.ADVERTISING

Cynthia D. Barker and Enoch King co-star in “The Light,” a romantic comedy-drama continuing through April 17 at Horizon Theatre.
Courtesy of Horizon Theatre

Rashad, meanwhile, no matter his accomplishments as a devoted father and heroic firefighter, sometimes still grapples with feeling “disgraced” about his failed former football career. Struggling with it became a matter of “feeding my body and neglecting my soul,” he confesses — until, that is, he met and fell in love with Genesis.

For tonight’s anniversary (all of the action unfolds in real time, on yet another fabulous set designed by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay), each of them bears two gifts for the other. He plans to make it official by presenting her with an engagement ring, and he has another surprise in the form of concert tickets to see the pop singer they saw on their first date together. She has season tickets for him to his favorite football team, in addition to some important good news to share with him, too.

A rather abrupt plot revelation at the midway mark won’t be spoiled here, but the consequently uncomfortable shift in tone darkens the overall mood of “The Light” — threatening, in the process, to upset that formidable balance the show goes to such great lengths to establish, whereupon one of the characters suddenly starts doing a lot more of the talking, and the other a lot more listening. (It’s no coincidence, however, that playwright Webb, and both of the show’s certifiably qualified co-directors, Horizon associate artistic producer Marguerite Hannah and Lydia Fort, are all women.)

In its ensuing hot-button debates about “Black male privilege,” female empowerment, “teachable moments” and practicing what one preaches, the play finally ends up taking a side, after all, somewhat skewing the narrative and tipping the scales accordingly, and then essentially daring the audience not to comply.


“The Light”

Through April 17. 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 5 p.m. Sundays. $27-$35. Horizon Theatre, 1083 Austin Ave. NE (in Little Five Points), Atlanta. 404-584-7450, www.horizontheatre.com.

Bottom line: Acting tours de force illuminate a topical comedy-drama.


Review: Political, personal differences come into view in Horizon’s “The Light”


The Light, the challenging new play onstage at Horizon Theatre through April 17, shines most brightly because of its two actors, who share a spectacular chemistry as we follow their characters from the highest joy to darker places.

These are two of the year’s best performances.

Cynthia D. Barker and Enoch King play Genesis and Rashad, a Black couple in Chicago celebrating their two-year anniversary in her Oak Park, Illinois, condo. She is a magnet school principal. He is a single-dad firefighter who met her while taking his daughter to school. Written by Loy A. Webb and originally intended for an Horizon staging in March 2020, the play opens with Rashad alone, preparing a celebration, hiding an engagement ring in Genesis’ kitchen cabinet. She arrives home, talking about how a work-based political discussion between other teachers has gone wrong.

The play is set in 2018 during the time of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and the couple discusses the sexual assault allegations brought against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford abstractly. They’re both against Kavanaugh, but their objections to his nomination are shaded with nuance. Rashad opposes President Trump’s agenda at all costs. Genesis more directly stands with Ford because of what it means for a sexual assault victim to come forward.

This moment early in their exchanges is key to understanding where this surprising play, which begins with a very lived-in and extremely romantic vibe, intends to take the audience by its end. The play is structured like an onion, where we regard it at first in our hand for what it seems to be before we delve into its many, many layers.

Critic Benjamin Carr calls the work of Barker and King “two of the year’s best performances.”

The moments leading up to the heart of the play include a discussion of the characters’ individual and shared pasts, much teasing and flirting and an incredible, very moving marriage proposal. When Rashad surprises Genesis with concert tickets to see their favorite singer, who is on the bill with a controversial headliner she finds problematic, the romantic evening becomes contentious as it devolves into an argument about sexual misconduct allegations and misogyny from the concert headliner.

The joy soon fades for the characters, leading to deep, necessary discussions of the Black experience, gender politics and trauma.

All through this discussion, King and Barker are genius sparring partners, grounding their characters with an intimacy and abiding affection. King’s character can be jovial and goofy, even when he is alone in the scene scrambling to grab things off shelves. Every gesture carries meaning, infused with insecurity and emotion that he doesn’t dare show his girlfriend. Rashad’s deeper hurts and pains, as they emerge in the discussion, always feel authentic.

Barker is a marvel here, and the powerhouse second half of the narrative — where things turn intense and personal — pretty much belongs to her. After one costume-change moment driven by the plot, you won’t be able to take your eyes off her. There are monologues she gets, where King’s character listens and reacts while stricken and heartbroken, that are incredibly well done. Genesis is the one who mentions “the light” of the title, and she does so at two very different points. In one, she’s talking about a moment of intimacy. In another, she speaks with desperation about lost hope.

The organized structure of Webb’s script itself leans into the issues surrounding the sexual trauma conversation between the two, which doesn’t necessarily flow as realistically as it would in actual life. People who had been dating for two years would, hopefully, have discussed these points throughout their relationship. But the direction from Marguerite Hannah and Lydia Fort turns the conversation into a pressure cooker here, building up steam for 75 minutes with no breaks or intermission.

There is a reason for this structure. Webb’s script moves in layers, from talking about gender politics and sexual trauma at a distance to up close, giving the debate a chance to flow like a tennis match between men and women. It gives the audience a chance to change their minds about how they view a situation. The show’s revelations and twists make the conversation very provocative.

Questions raised by The Light go from being hypothetical to in-your-face. Both characters raise very solid points about privilege, race and sexism.

Loy has said that the play is based upon the real-life sexual assault allegations against actor-director Nate Parker that resurfaced in the press during the release of his 2016 film The Birth of a Nation. Parker had been accused of assault while in college by a woman who later committed suicide.

“The Light” continues through April 17 at Horizon Theatre.

But the play itself could also be a discussion of Kavanaugh, R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby or any other accused figure from the #MeToo movement. It’s a fascinating script.

Horizon Theatre Company’s technical production elements are stunning. The set design by Isabel and Moriah Curley-Clay is just gorgeous. The Curley-Clays have created a space you want to live in, decorated with touches from prop designers Nick Battaglia and Ashley Bingham that show these two characters have very specific tastes. The way the actors move through the space suggests a familiarity and ease they have in the environment and with one another.

The costumes from Dr. L. Nyrobi Moss also are a highlight, for these characters dress up and dress down to reflect their changing moods. 

The Light is a triggering play full of deep feeling. Its joy is so palpable that, when it is lost, the audience mourns for it. The pain of the show and the questions it raises linger, thanks to two incredible performances.


Benjamin Carr, a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, is an arts journalist and critic who has contributed to ArtsATL since 2019. His plays have been produced at The Vineyard Theatre in Manhattan, as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival, and the Center for Puppetry Arts. His book Impacted was published by The Story Plant in 2021 and is a Georgia Author of the Year Award nominee in the first novel category.

The Light is Up Next on the Horizon Stage!

“A deeply intimate play…I watched tears flow, Kleenexes emerge from pockets, couples move closer together and further apart.”Chicago Tribune

ATLANTA (MARCH 2022) – Recipient of the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play, Loy Webb’s debut work, The Light, hits the Horizon stage from March 19th-April 17th (Press Opening March 25th). Horizon’s regional premiere of The Light is an intimate, funny, and powerful look at love today in all its complexity, featuring two of Atlanta’s most dynamic actors, Enoch King and Cynthia D. Barker.

A surprise marriage proposal takes an unexpected turn that upends the world of Genesis and Rashad, forcing them to confront secrets from the past. The Light is a roller coaster journey of laughter, romance and reckoning that unfolds in real time, peeling away layers of truth, doubt, pain and ultimately, the power of love.

Horizon Theatre Company’s performances start March 19, 2022 (Press Opening March 25, 2022) and run until April 17, 2022, at Horizon in Little Five Points/Inman Park (1083 Austin Avenue N.E., Atlanta, GA 30307, at the corner of Euclid and Austin Avenues). Performances are Wed through Fri at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm, Sundays at 5 pm. Tickets and information are available at www.horizontheatre.com or 404-584-7450.

The Light is a present-day love story complicated by the many things that go unsaid,” explains co-director Marguerite Hannah, Horizon’s Associate Artistic Producer. “The characters explore many questions about love universally and the Black community in specific. They unearth the questions we have been taught not to ask: Is surviving our past enough? Is a Black woman’s accomplishments and personal strengths a strong enough salve for emotional wounds? Is gender bias a tangible issue for a community historically defined by racial discrimination?”   

“Genesis and Rashad are each doing their best in a relationship based on love and mutual respect, but together they will find that actively making an effort to love and understand each other, including their pasts, with the cultural spotlight of the “Me Too” Movement will lead to a deeper level of honesty and commitment that will change them both forever.”

In addition to her sixteen-year tenure on Horizon’s staff, Ms. Hannah is producer/director of Horizon’s groundbreaking play development project: New Georgia Woman Project: Black Women Speak, and a veteran actor with credits nationwide. At Horizon, audiences have seen her in Night Blooms, Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery (Suzi Award for Outstanding Production of a Play), The Waffle Palace, and Freed Spirits. Marguerite is sharing directing duties for The Light with co-director Lydia Fort, currently an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Emory University. Fort holds an MFA in directing from the University of Washington and has directed professionally at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Gable Stage (FL), Actor’s Express (GA), Perseverance Theatre (AK), Urban Stages (NY), Classical Theatre of Harlem and more. 

Inspired by the sexual assault allegations surrounding Nate Parker during “Birth of a Nation,” The Light sparks a necessary conversation not only between the couple in the play but among its audience members about sexual violence and the treatment of women in male-dominated spaces. It is a play about the intricacies of truth, and how to take a leap of faith when you don’t know who or what to believe. When asked about her writing, Loy Webb responded, “I write to point toward hope. I want my work to be a neon sign in the darkness: This way out. This way to hope.”

Loy Webb is a Chicago-born playwright, attorney, and theatre journalist, now also working as a television writer on the series NOS4A2 (2020) and The Ms. Pat Show (2021). The Light premiered in 2018 at the New Colony in Chicago and had its Off-Broadway Premiere in January 2019 at MCC Theater in NYC. It was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play and received a Chicago Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play.

Horizon and Atlanta favorites Enoch King and Cynthia D. Barker star as loving partners Rashad, a firefighter and single dad, and Genesis, an elementary school principal.  Suzi Bass award nominee Cynthia D. Barker has been seen at Horizon in Citizens Market, How to Use A Knife, Uprising, Elemeno Pea, Third Country, and Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery. Other recent regional credits include Angry, Raucous & Shamelessly Gorgeous (Alliance Theatre and Hartford Stage-CT), Paradise Blue (True Colors Theatre), The Royale (Theatrical Outfit), A Christmas Carol (Alliance Theatre), and The Mountaintop (Aurora Theatre). Atlanta native and film star Enoch King has been part of Horizon for nearly two decades, with credits including Sweet Water Taste, Constellations, The Waffle Palace, and many years of The Santaland Diaries. He has also been seen recently in Toni Stone (Alliance Theatre), The Bluest Eye (Synchronicity Theatre), Skeleton Crew (True Colors Theatre, American Stage-FL), The Christians (Actor’s Express), The Canterbury Tales (Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse) and on screen in Drumline, House of Payne, and BET’s Let’s Stay Together.

The Light’s design team includes Horizon resident set and lighting designers Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay and Mary Parker. The Curley-Clay sisters have won multiple Suzi Awards for their work and have designed all of Horizon’s productions for the past 10+ years.  Mary Parker is also a Suzi Award winner for Avenue Q at Horizon and was recently recognized for excellence for her lighting work in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Once at Horizon. They are joined by sound designer Chris Lane (Horizon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Once) and costume designer L. Nyrobi Moss (Sweet Water Taste, Blackberry Daze, and many more at Horizon).

THE LIGHT will run at Horizon Theatre Company March 19 through April 17, 2022 (Press Opening: March 25, 2022). Performances are Wednesday through Sunday (Wednesday-Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday at 5 p.m). Our intimate theatre is in the heart of Inman Park and Little Five Points at the corner of Euclid and Austin Avenues (1083 Austin Avenue N.E., Atlanta, GA 30307), and includes FREE parking. 

Tickets start at $30 for weekdays and $35 for weekends. ($20 for full-time students under 25 with a valid student ID and $3 off full-price tickets for Seniors). Prices are subject to change and will rise as performances fill up. Patrons are encouraged to purchase tickets early for the best prices. There is a reserved seating section for subscribers and major donors, general admission for others.Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more. 

Horizon is committed to being COVID safe. The theatre will follow its COVID policy and procedures, which currently include proof of vaccination or a negative COVID Test within 48 hours for all audience members, artists, and staff. Masks are required for all patrons and staff. Enhanced cleaning and sanitation throughout the theatre will be conducted after each performance. Horizon’s full COVID policy and procedures are here: https://www.horizontheatre.com/covid-19-policies-procedures/ 

For tickets and information, visit horizontheatre.com or call 404.584.7450.



Loy A. Webb (Writer) is a Chicago born playwright, screenwriter attorney, and theatre journalist. Her plays include The Light (MCC Theater 2018/2019, Outer Critics Circle nomination for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play; The New Colony, 2017/2018, Joseph Jefferson Award), and His Shadow (16th Street Theater 2019/2020). She was an inaugural Tutterow Fellow at Chicago Dramatists. Her work has been featured at Black Ensemble Theatre as a part of their Black Playwrights Initiative Program, American Theater Company (Big Shoulders Festival 2014), 20 Percent Theatre Company Chicago (Snapshots Festival 2014 and 2015), University of North Dakota, GI60 International One Minute Play Festival (2015), Modern-Day Griot Theatre Company New York and the Black Lives, Black Words International Project. Her short play, I AM a Woman is featured in the hip-hop anthology Wish to Live: The Hip-hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader.

She is a member of the Association of Women of Journalist-Chicago and a contributing theater critic for Newcity. Loy holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a J.D. from The John Marshall Law School. She is a writer for television, most recently the AMC television series NOS4A2 and The Ms. Pat Show.


Cynthia D. Barker (Genesis) has been seen at Horizon Theatre in Citizens Market, How to Use A Knife, Uprising, Elemeno Pea, Third Country, and Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery.  Sheis a five-time Suzi Bass award nominee including Best Leading Actress and Best Ensemble in a Play.   She has collaborated with some of Atlanta’s most distinguished theatrical institutions including Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, Horizon Theatre Company, Theatrical Outfit and the Tony Award winning Alliance Theatre.  Her recent regional credits include Angry, Raucous & Shamelessly Gorgeous (Alliance Theatre, Hartford Stage in Connecticut), Citizens Market and How to Use A Knife (Horizon), Paradise Blue (True Colors Theatre), The Royale (Theatrical Outfit), A Christmas Carol (Alliance Theatre), and The Mountaintop (Aurora Theatre).  She holds an MFA in Acting from Wayne State University and is Adjunct Theatre Faculty in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Clayton State University.

Enoch King (Rashad) has been part of Horizon for nearly two decades, with credits including Sweet Water Taste, Constellations, Uprising, The Waffle Palace, and many years of The Santaland Diaries.  He is a Georgia native and began his career path at Tri-Cities High School Visual and Performing Arts and the critically acclaimed Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble of Atlanta.  Enoch has been blessed with the opportunity to work with Horizon Theatre, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Aurora Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, True Colors Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Jewish Theater of the South, and Dad’s Garage. He has been seen recently in Toni Stone (Alliance Theatre/Milwaukee Rep), The Bluest Eye (Synchronicity Theatre), Skeleton Crew (True Colors Theatre, American Stage-FL), The Christians (Actor’s Express), The Canterbury Tales (Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse) and on screen in Drumline, House of Payne, and BET’s Let’s Stay Together.

Marguerite Hannah (Co-Director) started her theatre and arts adventures 30+ years ago as an actor, now also a producer and director. As an actor, Marguerite walked the boards of regional theatre across the country. In 2006, Marguerite joined Horizon Theatre’s administrative staff as Business Manager. Prior to this position, she worked on the production team of the National Black Arts Festival and Art Station Multi-Discipline Art Center. The opportunity to become Horizon’s Apprentice Company Artistic Director came in 2012, and she remained in that position for the next eight years. Marguerite is a multi-hyphenate arts professional, evidenced in her continued growth in producing and administrative responsibilities at Horizon. Currently Marguerite is producing a new initiative for Horizon Theatre she created, The New Georgia Woman Project: Black Women Speak. Black Women Speak combines an essential community engagement component utilizing an ongoing series of informal “Coffee Chats” with Black women in the Atlanta greater metro area and an artist cohort of nine Black female playwrights with a strong connection to the south. The Playwrights are commissioned to write stories centering on Black women and the spirit of the women participating in the BWS Community Coffee Chats who will follow the full development process from chats to readings to production as their stories are told. A proud member of Actors’ Equity Association, Marguerite is secretary of the board of the National New Play Network where she is co-chair of the Membership Committee and board member and Festival Committee Co-chair of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. She is also a proud alumnus of Howard University.

Lydia Fort (Co-Director) has directed at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Gable Stage, Bay Street Theater, Actor’s Express, Cygnet Theatre, Diversionary Theatre, Perseverance Theatre, Women’s Project Theatre, Women Center Stage, Urban Stages, McCarter Theatre YouthInk! Festival, New Federal Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem, freeFall Theatre, Hangar Theatre, Planet Connections Festivity (where she was honored with the 2103 Best Director and Greener Planet Awards) as well as other festivals including the New Black Fest, 48 Hours in Harlem, Fire This Time Festival, and SheWrites.  She was a Time Warner Foundation Fellow of the 2012-2014 Lab at Women’s Project Theater, a TCG New Generations Future Leaders Grantee, New York Theatre Workshop Directing Fellow, and Drama League Directing Fellow. Lydia received a BA from New York University and an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington. She is an Assistant Professor at Emory University where she teaches directing, acting, African American theatre, and eco-theatre.