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2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright to be featured at Syracuse University’s 18th Annual MLK Celebration
2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright to be featured at Syracuse University’s 18th Annual MLK CelebrationOctober 25, 2002Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
Suzan-Lori Parks, who won a 2002 Pulitzer Prize for her critically-acclaimed Broadway play “Top Dog/Under Dog” will be the featured speaker at Syracuse University’s 18th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Jan. 18, 2003, in the Carrier Dome.
The celebration at the Carrier Dome, “Walking Together: Past, Present, Future,” will also feature a dramatic performance by the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Co., music, the presentation of the 2003 Unsung Hero awards and a dinner that features traditional African American foods.
The event, which is expected to draw more than 2,000 people, is among the largest university-sponsored MLK celebrations in the nation and is open to the public.
The program, which includes Parks’ keynote address, is free and begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the dinner, which begins at 5:30 p.m., are $20 and will be available on Dec. 2 by calling Hendricks Chapel at 315-443-5044. Dinner tickets generally sell out early, so those who are interested in attending the dinner portion of the event should plan accordingly.
Parks will also appear earlier in the day at the 11 a.m. celebration sponsored by the Syracuse Region Martin Luther King Jr. Commission at Hopps Memorial CME Church, 1110 S. State St., and she will present a 3 p.m. seminar on the SU campus. Both events are free and open to the public.
“It is exciting for those of us at Syracuse University and in the Syracuse community to have Suzan-Lori Parks participate in the 2003 Martin Luther King Jr. celebration,” says Barbara Adams, chair of the University’s MLK Celebration committee and associate director in the Department of Athletics. “We look forward to meeting Ms. Parks and hearing more about this extraordinary woman’s professional accomplishments. It will be an exciting opportunity to celebrate a true legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.”
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize-the first presented to an African American woman playwright-Parks was named a 2001 MacArthur Fellow, earned a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000 and received Obie Awards (best off-Broadway play awards) in 1990 and 1996 for “Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom” and “Venus.”
Parks is the director of the A.S.K. Theater Projects Writing for Performance Program at the California Institute for the Arts. Some of her current projects include an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel “Paradise” for Oprah Winfrey’s film company; an original musical called “Hoopz,” based on the Harlem Globetrotters, for Disney Theatricals and her first novel, “Getting Mother’s Body.”
“Top Dog/Under Dog” captures a moment in the lives of two brothers, Lincoln and Booth, names that were given to them by their father as a joke. Lincoln is a former three-card monte scam artist, who works in an arcade impersonating Abraham Lincoln. Booth is a master shoplifter. “It’s about two guys who live now whose names happen to be Lincoln and Booth,” said Parks in an April article in the Christian Science Monitor. “Part of the fun is to see how the brothers relate to the historical event.”
Parks’ other works include “The America Play” (1993), “The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World” (1990) and “In the Blood” (1999), among others. She has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Other awards include the Lila-Wallace Reader’s Digest Award (1995) and the Whiting Writers’ Award (1992).