The Pittsburgh Foundation

a.k. payne

2023 National Black Theatre World Premiere production of AMANI by a.k. payne. Directed by Josiah Davis. Photo Credit: Marika Kent (lighting designer). Image featuring: Kai Heath and Denise Manning. This image is representative of a.k. payne's work as it captures a moment of tenderness between characters in my play AMANI. My plays center Black women and non-binary folks in their quests—across time—for memory, joy, freedom, survival, friendship, community, revolution, space, home, longevity and care.
2023 National Black Theatre World Premiere production of AMANI by a.k. payne. Directed by Josiah Davis. Photo Credit: Marika Kent (lighting designer). Image featuring: Kai Heath and Denise Manning. This image is representative of a.k. payne's work as it captures a moment of tenderness between characters in my play AMANI. My plays center Black women and non-binary folks in their quests—across time—for memory, joy, freedom, survival, friendship, community, revolution, space, home, longevity and care.

2023 grant amount: $50,000 over two years

This grant supports a self-curated playwright residency, the development of new works, and the curation of Black Story Circles, a gathering practice of Black literary artists. 

a.k. payne is a playwright and theatermaker born and raised in Pittsburgh. The self-curated playwright residency will provide space for her to further expand her body of work inspired by Black Pittsburgh stories.

"I will engage with personal and public archives and write several new plays," she says. "This project will work to create deep networks, collaborative and restful space and to uplift Black literary artists with roots in the city. It aims to build a creative hub for Black writers that may serve as a bulwark against the exodus of many artists from the city.

In recent years, I have been struck by the ways that my ancestors have taken and labeled photographs as a way to imagine a future in which their descendants would engage them. For this project, I will spend time exploring these archives of my family. In addition, I will visit public archives with photographs documenting Pittsburgh Black and Indigenous life (such as: Teenie Harris Archives, African American Collection at University of Pittsburgh, the Detre Library and Archives at the Heinz History Center). My artistic process of engaging Black archives hopes to counter and rewrite histories of erasure."  

a.k. payne says she will spend several hours writing every day, taking inspiration from the images and the intergenerational stories embedded within photographs. 

WEB: https://www.akpayne.com/

2023 AWARDEES LIST ADVANCING BLACK ARTS IN PITTSBURGH MAIN