Nambi E. Kelley


Nambi Kelley has penned plays for Steppenwolf, the Goodman Theatre, and Court Theatre in Chicago, Lincoln Center and the National Black Theatre in New York, and internationally with LATT Children’s Theatre/ Unibooks Publishing Company (South Korea), Teatri Sbagliati (Italy), and The Finger Players (Singapore), where she also performed in the co-adapted production of The Book of Living and Dying. Most recently, Kelley is the winner of the 2019 Prince Prize. Nambi is a finalist for The Primus Award and the recipient of the Dramatist’s Guild’s Writers Grant for her work on Jazz. Nambi was named a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow and a 2018–19 New Victory LabWorks Fellow. She just completed a residency at the National Black Theatre in New York, was a finalist for The Kevin Spacey Foundation Award, and is working on an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Jazz.

Her adaptation of Native Son premiered in New York produced the The Acting Company at The Duke on 42nd Street, July 2019. Native Son was just published by Samuel French in 2016. The world premiere of Native Son was presented to critical acclaim at the Court Theatre as a co-production with American Blues Theatre, was nominated for 5 Jeff Awards, and was the highest grossing production in Court Theatre’s 60-year history. Native Son is also on the 2015 Kilroy’s List, among the top new plays by female and trans* authors. Kelley’s Xtigone celebrated productions in Chicago (Chicago Danz Theatre Ensemble) and San Francisco (African American Shakespeare Company directed by Rhodessa Jones) with several high school and college productions across the country, and was just published by YouthPlays Publishing. Shortlisted professional writing affiliations include: National Black Theatre Playwright in Residence, Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit, Steppenwolf Theatre Company New Plays Lab Playwright-in-Residence, Goodman Theatre/Ellen Stone Belic Institute Fellowship, Goodman Theatre Lila Wallace Fellowship, La MaMa Playwrights Symposium Playwright-in-Residence in Spoleto, Italy under the tutelage of Pulitzer prize winner Lynn Nottage, Ragdale Foundation Artist in Residence, HealthWorks Theatre Colonel Stanley McNeil Playwright-in-Residence, Chicago Dramatists Playwright Emeritus, Danny Glover’s Robey Theatre Co. Playwriting Lab, and MPAACT Playwright Emeritus, Chicago. Also an actress, Nambi has worked on stage and television in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and internationally, playing opposite such artists as Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard, Blair Underwood, and Patrick Swayze. Ms. Kelley has a BFA from The Theatre School at De Paul University and holds an MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College in Vermont.

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