Ifa Bayeza is an award-winning playwright, director, novelist and educator. Described as “breathtaking,” “staggering,” “extraordinarily lyrical,” and “triumphant,” her literary style and transcendent themes veer from the intimate to the mythic and compel us to re-examine the deeply embedded ideas we attach to race and gender.
Plays include The Till Trilogy (The Ballad of Emmett Till, That Summer in Sumner, and Benevolence), reimagining the saga of 1955 Civil Rights icon Emmett Till; String Theory, on the 1839 Amistad slave ship survivors; Welcome to Wandaland, a childhood memoir and Infants of the Spring, adapted from the classic Harlem Renaissance novel. She has written two musicals: the World War I love story, Charleston Olio, a Fred Ebb Award finalist; and Bunk Johnson, a Blues Poem on the legendary Jazz originalist, commissioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Her novel Some Sing, Some Cry was co-authored with her sister Ntozake Shange.
A 2022 MacDowell fellow, Bayeza was finalist for the 2020 Herb Alpert Award in Theatre and for the 2020 Francesca Primus Prize, and in 2018, was the inaugural Humanist-in-Residence at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Honors for The Ballad of Emmett Till include the Edgar Award, the Backstage Garland Award and fellowships from the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and Brown University. A graduate of Harvard University, Bayeza received her MFA in Theater from University of Massachusetts Amherst.