Go to Content
Columbia College Chicago
Ifa Bayeza
Print this PageEmail this Page

Ifa Bayeza

Spring 2007
Institute/Goodman Theatre Fellow
Chicago, IL

Ifa Bayeza

Ifa Bayeza is an award-winning theater artist and novelist.  Her works for the stage include Amistad VoicesClub HarlemKid ZeroHomer G & the Rhapsodies, for which she received a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award; Charleston Olio, a Fred Ebb Musical Theatre Award finalist; and The Ballad of Emmett Till, which was awarded a Eugene O’Neill 2007 National Playwrights Conference fellowship and received its world premiere at the Goodman Theater in 2008, garnering the Mystery Writers of America 2008 Edgar Award for Best Play. In 2010, Bayeza rewrote and re-envisioned The Ballad of Emmett Till as a more intimate and personal drama for a cast of five. The new work, which premiered at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, garnered six Ovation Awards including best production, four Drama Desk Critics’ Circle Awards, including best production, and the 2010 Backstage Garland Award for Best Playwriting. The Houston Ensemble Theatre production of The Ballad will be reprised at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem NC this August and the play will also be mounted at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul in February 2014. She is currently Distinguished Artist-in-Residence and Senior Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University, where she teaches a course on creative non-fiction, based on her research methodology for the Till project.   

In 2010 Bayeza made her debut as a novelist with the "gorgeous" (NY Times), "magical" (Elle), “dazzling” (EssenceSome Sing, Some Cry, co-authored with her sister Ntozake Shange. In 2011, Charleston Olio, her theatrical musical adapted from the novel, was presented at the National Black Theatre Festival, and through invitation from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, at the BB King Museum in Indianola Mississippi. In February 2013, as part of her residency at Brown, Bayeza presented a staged reading of Golden Slipper, a second musical drawn from the novel, and in March, she was a guest reader at the Princeton Library, where the novel was named Book of the Year.

Bayeza’s work has been performed at Ensemble Theatre of Houston, New Federal Theatre in New York, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre and Crossroads Theater. A performer and lecturer, herself, Bayeza has appeared at the Getty Institute, the Chicago Historical Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, BRAVA Women’s Center for the Arts, Cosmic Theater in Amsterdam, and at the Sorbonne. A graduate of Harvard University, Bayeza is a founding board member of the SonEdna Foundation of Mississippi, a fellow of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in Arts and Media in Chicago, and a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Bayeza is currently working on a commission awarded by the Black Metropolis Research Consortium in Chicago to develop an original musical about the founding years of DuSable High School (1935-1939) and the school's legendary musical director Walter Dyett. Her new comedy-drama, the fictional autobiography Welcome to Wandaland, will receive its first staged reading at The Department of Africana Studies' Rites & Reason Theatre in May 2013.