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Columbia College Chicago
Nambi E. Kelley
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Nambi E. Kelley

Institute/Goodman Theatre Summer Fellow
Chicago, IL


Nambi E. Kelley returns from Singapore where she co-adapted and performed in The Book of Living and Dying at the Singapore Arts Festival, commissioned by the Finger Players Theatre (Singapore) and Teatri Sbagliati (Italy). Most recent U.S. credits include: Court Martial at Fort Devens (New York debut, New Federal Theatre, winner of 6 AUDELCO AWARDS including Best Ensemble Cast and Best Production of the Year) and Charleston Olio (opposite Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad at the 2011 National Black Theatre Festival). Ms. Kelley is also the Goodman Theatre’s 2013 nominee for TCG’s Fox Fellowship. Notable regional credits include:  Gees Bend, (Arkansas Repertory Theatre), Lydia Diamond’s Harriet Jacobs (Steppenwolf Theatre, Kansas City Rep), The Good Negro (Goodman Theatre/Hattie McDaniel Black Theatre Alliance Award nomination) The Lost Boys of Sudan (Victory Gardens), The Glass Menagerie (Steppenwolf Theatre) The Ballad of Emmett Till (Goodman Theatre), Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Goodman Theatre/Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination: Principle Actress, Ruby Dee Award Nomination Best Lead Actress) Drowning Crow (Goodman Theatre) Nikki Giovanni:  New Songs for a New Day (Steppenwolf Theatre)  Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, (Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles), and Antigone (South Coast Repertory Theatre). Television credits include: The Beast (A&E) guest starring opposite Patrick Swayze, L.A. Dragnet (ABC), City of Angels (CBS) recurring, Early Edition (CBS), Cupid (ABC), Close to Home (WB Pilot) recurring, and Strong Medicine (Lifetime).

Ms. Kelley, also an award-winning, produced, and published playwright, is a member of Playwrights Unit at the Goodman Theatre 2011-12, and is currently working on a commission to adapt Richard Wright’s Native Son.  Ms. Kelley is also a guest lecturer at Lake Forest College, has a B.F.A. from The Theatre School at DePaul University, formerly known as The Goodman School of Drama, and has an M.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.

Ms. Kelley’s productions span New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and internationally.  Commissioned work includes projects at The Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Court Theatre, American Blues Theatre, Health Works Theatre (Chicago), and internationally with LATT Children’s Theatre/Unibooks Publishing Company (South Korea) Teatri Sbagliati (Italy), and The Finger Players (Singapore).  Professional Writing Affiliations include: Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit 2011-12, Steppenwolf Theatre Company New Plays Lab Playwright-In-Residence, Goodman Theatre/Ellen Stone Belic Institute/ Fellowship Recipient, Goodman Theatre Lila Wallace Fellowship, La MaMa Playwrights Symposium Playwright-In-Residence, Spoleto, Italy under the tutelage of Pulitzer prize winner Lynn Nottage,  Ragdale Foundation Residency Selection Committee, Ragdale Foundation Artist in Residence, HealthWorks Theatre Colonel Stanley McNeil Playwright-In-Residence,  Chicago Dramatists Playwright-In-Residence, Danny Glover’s Robey Theatre Co. Playwriting Lab (Formerly The Blacksmyths At The Mark Taper Forum), and MPAACT Playwright-In-Residence, Chicago.  Special Writing Awards/Nominations include: Joyce Award Nominee 2013, Court Theatre, Black Ensemble Theatre Playwriting Award for the Black Playwrights Initiative 2009, 3 Arts Fellowship 2009, TCG Playwrights Residency Nomination at Goodman Theatre, Ignition New Plays Festival by Artists of Color, Victory Gardens Theatre, Finalist;  Chesterfield Writing Project Fellowship at Paramount Pictures, Finalist; O’Neill Playwrights Conference Nomination; Act Theatre/Seattle Repertory Nomination For Women’s Playwright Festival; Williams College Stalwart Originality Playwright-In-Residence; 2 Prop Thtr New Plays Festival Awards, and Peace Maker Of The Year Award, The Peace Museum And Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.  Publications include: The Blue Shadow. Ed. Lifeline Theatre. Chicago, 2009, The Blaq Market: Monologues and Scenes. Ed. Shepsu Aakhu. Chicago: A Sakhu Publication, 2008. The Blaq Market: Essays and Plays from Afrikan Centered Theatre. Ed. Shepsu Aakhu. Chicago: A Sakhu Publication, 2006. Alibi Transcripts: Monologues of the Dark Indicted. Ed. Shepsu Aakhu. Chicago: A Sakhu Publication, 2001. Ms. Kelley is an ongoing guest lecturer at Lake Forest College.


Nambi Kelley is in the process of developing a new play with a working title of For Her as a Piano which will be workshopped by the Goodman Theatre May 2011.  Based on a painting of a similar title, the script conveys the internal whirlwind of existence for people that suffer from mental illness. For Her as a Piano will continue Kelley’s fascination with the inner sanctum of the mentally ill mind as supported by working partnerships with Trilogy, an organization that focuses on rehabilitation of those afflicted with psychiatric disabilities on Chicago’s North Side. Exploring the relationship between God and the devil as they dance for attention inside the mind of a schizophrenic, she anticipates that the piece will share elements of her earlier works—infusing music and movement to shape the environment of the play. Ultimately however the play will be different from her other plays by involving multi-disciplinary art forms with text, here hoping to explore more multi-dimensional facets of live performance.

For more information visit: www.nambikelley.com