The Fire This Time Festival

The Fire This Time Festival was founded in 2009 by playwright Kelley Nicole Girod to provide a platform for early career playwrights of African and African American descent. Since its founding, the Festival has produced the plays of dozens of emerging writers whose works explore a wide range of themes and perspectives. The Festival also supports actors, directors, and technical personnel to help seed the pipeline with diverse talent and amplify underrepresented voices in theater in New York and beyond.

The Fire This Time playwrights have gone on to have their plays produced in cities across the United States and work as writers in film and television. The Fire This Time Festival has evolved into an annual January event and continues to grow, expanding upon its core short play presentations to offer panel discussions, staged readings, a playwright’s lab and other programs. The Festival has become a destination for diverse audiences, producers, and artists seeking new possibilities and opportunities in contemporary theater.

Learn more about the Fire This Time Festival at

Please note that this year, Fire This Time show will be at The Wild Project at 195 E 3rd Street.

Tickets are available now!

The Fire This Time Festival 15th Annual Ten-Minute Play Program,
directed by Cezar Williams

FRIGID New York will present the 2024 The Fire This Time Festival at a brand new home this January. The Obie Award winning festival will be celebrating its 15th anniversary with the return of its annual Ten-Minute Play Program at The Wild Project (195 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10009), January 15-January 28, 2024. The full schedule, which includes a community themed event and a staged reading of a full-length play by TFTT Founder and Executive Director Kelley Girod, will be forthcoming.

The six playwrights whose ten-minute plays will receive their world premiere include Taylor A. Blackman, Kamilah Bush, Leelee Jackson, Monique Pappas-Williams, Nia Akilah Robinson and Joël René Scoville. Cezar Williams, the Producing Artistic Director of The Fire This Time who directed the 8th annual Ten-Minute Play Program returns to direct the 15th anniversary Ten-Minute Play Program.

In season 15 the ten-minute plays all focus on Black women and the Black family with themes of ten-minute plays ranging from a family who redefines the meaning of kinship, both biological and chosen, and another family who deals with the psychological toll racism has on their teenage daughter; women navigating careers as artists and activists and the demands it places on their private lives; young women confronting colorism within the Black community; and, women being empowered to reclaim their agency and autonomy by refusing to be confined by unfulfilling relationships.

It’s Karen B**** 
Written by Taylor Blackman
The King Family is the “perfect” black family, with the “perfect” black life. Both parents in the household, one “successful” child, upper-middle class wealth, very liberal affirming values and mindsets, and everyone is in therapy. What more could you ask for?! But the world turns awry in black paradise when the only child of the family reveals a huge secret that turns everything and everyone on its head. 
Taylor Blackman (he/him) is a Brooklyn based multi-hyphenate. As an actor, Taylor recently finished the First National Tour of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. He has also performed with Roundabout Theatre Company, The Movement Theatre Company, The Public Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, and New York Stage & Film. Taylor can also be seen on Comedy Central’s “Alternatino” and on CBS’ “FBI”. As a playwright, he is currently under commission with Ensemble Studio Theatre & Roberta P Sloan to create a new scientific play. He has also held residency with Hi-ARTS Harlem to develop new works, as well creatively produced readings and workshops of his own work. Taylor recently served as the movement director for a recent production of Sweet Chariot that premiered at Under The Radar Festival at The Public Theater. He holds a professorship with the New School in the Theatre Department. Taylor is currently working on a new play titled “Hero,” created by Shariffa Ali and Vuyo Sotashe.

Mamas and Papas 
Written by Kamilah Bush
16 years ago Charles fathered a child who he left with his mother to raise. After his mother’s passing, his daughter has come to live with him and two people with full and beautiful, but complex, lives attempt to find a new way through grief and family together.
Kamilah Bush is a playwright, dramaturg and educator originally from North Carolina. She holds a BFA in Theater Education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Kamilah has spent several years working in celebrated regional theaters across the country, including Triad Stage in North Carolina, Asolo Repertory Theater in Florida  and Two River Theater in New Jersey. She currently holds the position of Literary Manager at Portland Center Stage in Portland, OR. Her play “Nick & the Prizefighter” was a semifinalist in the 2021 Bay Area Playwright’s Festival, the 2022 L. Arnold Weissberger Award and the 2023 Princess Grace Award, and won the 2021 Urbanite Theater Modern Works Festival.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Written by Leelee Jackson
What’s Love Got To Do With It? centers an intimate bedroom conversation between A Woman and Her Man, a good man who fails to meet the standards of a good woman. This play is a fabulation of A Woman who prioritizes her desires above the complacent desire someone has for her. 
Leelee Jackson (she/her/Leelee) is a playwright whose work centers modern narratives of Black and queer womxnhood. Her one act play Comb Your Hair (Or You’ll Look Like a Slave) was honored as a John Cauable national finalist and performed in 2016 at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Her full length play The House Across the Street was honored at the 2019 Austin Film Festival where it was a national finalist and received a public reading. Currently, she is committed to building community amongst Black artists with Black Light Arts Collective (BLAC) a nonprofit she founded and currently serves as artistic director. Jackson is a Bay Area native and a 2019 MFA graduate of the University of California, Riverside.

The Mural 
Written by Monique Pappas-Williams
Nia, a once carefree artist, now an activist painter, is confronted by her ex-partner Riz, freshly released from prison. As they reconnect and rehash their past, Nia struggles with her identity as an artist and activist, and Riz challenges her work’s authenticity. Amidst tension and unresolved emotions, they find a cathartic release in creative collaboration, leading to self-discovery and healing.
Monique Pappas-Williams is a native of New Orleans. In addition to writing, she has many television, film, and theater credits. A short film she wrote and produced entitled “Game Night” was selected for the 2020 New York Lift-Off Film Festival. Her creative piece debuted as part of a collaboration in the Off-Broadway Billie Holiday Theater’s 2020 “Love In the Time of Corona.” Most recently, Monique wrote and produced “Crescent City Rebirth,” developed at Primary Stages ESPA, and won a spot in Theater for the New City’s Dream Up Festival. Monique has an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a proud member of AEA and SAG.  

Why Jamira Gotta Do All Da Werk? 
Written by Nia Akilah Robinson
Jamira and Kiana, two party friends, discover what keeps them stuck from their friendship progressing beyond the club and face uncomfortable revelations which slowly begin to unravel under the guise of self-hatred. 
Nia Akilah Robinson (she/her) is a playwright and actor who reps Harlem with all her might. She is a graduating second year playwright at The Juilliard School. Nia has been awarded the 2023 Miranda Family Fund Commission, and has had work presented at 48th OOB Festival. She was a New York Stage & Film Artist-In-Residence, and participated in the National Black Theatre Soul Series. She had a residency at The Pocantico Center through YoungArts, a NYSCA Grant Awardee (CCCADI), and Film & TV Mentorship by Mitzi Miller (VP of Warner Bros. Entertainment). Nia is shortlisted for the 2023 Theatre503’s International Playwriting Award. Her work has been seen and developed with The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep, GPTC, SPACE on Ryder Farm, EST, Waterwell, Classical Theater of Harlem, Urbanite, and New Georges. She has been a MacDowell & Travis Bogard Eugene O’Neill Foundation Fellow. She was a finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Blue Ink Playwriting Award, and NYTW 2050 Artistic Fellowship. She is a member or alumna of EST’s Youngblood, I-73 at Page 73, The Orchard Project, The Wish Collective, and TheBlackHERthePen.

Ethel & Ethel 
Written by Joël René Scoville
It’s their two year anniversary and all Ethel Williams wants to do is have a romantic night with her secret love, Ethel Waters. But when they keep getting interrupted by a gentleman caller, the two women must decide if they still have something to celebrate.
Joël René Scoville is a Black Mormon (yes, really), actress, writer, librettist and lyricist. Her musical “2&1: A Harlem Musical with Loose Morals” with composer Jenna Byrd, about queer women during the Harlem Renaissance, is a 2023 Eugene O’Neill Finalist, a 2022 Relentless Musical Award Honorable Mention and received a reading at UNTITLED Musical Project. Her musical Flophouse with co-writer Justin Anthony Long and composer Joanna Burns is a 2023 Rhinebeck Finalist. She wrote and starred in the web series, “Crazy with a K!” and is a co-writer on an upcoming project for AfterShock Comics. She is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, The Dramatists Guild of America, Actors’ Equity Association and a founding member of the UNTITLED Musical Writers Group. She loves Agatha Christie, “Batman” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”; much to the chagrin of her three sons and her husband…who she married three times. (Yes, really.)

Cezar Williams (Director) is an award-winning actor, director, and producer. Acting credits include “Surely Goodness” and Mercy by Chisa Hutchinson (Keen Co.) “James and Annie” by Warren Leight (Actor’s Studio, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, and Williamstown Theatre Festival) “Section 310…” by Warren Leight (Summer Shorts NYC Festival) “Thunder” by Cynthia Grace Robinson (Fringe NYC) “Ascension” by Cynthia Grace Robinson (National Black Theatre Festival). Television appearances include “Bull,” “Shades of Blue,” “Law and Order,” “Search Party,” “NYC 22,” “Blue Bloods” and “What Would You Do?” He can also be seen on demand in the movies “Bad Hurt” and “Hudson Tribes.” Directing credits include the Off-Broadway premiere of “Dancing on Eggshells” by Cynthia Grace Robinson (Billie Holiday Theatre), “Till: A Musical” by Leo Schwartz and DC Cathro (American Theater Group), “Serving Elizabeth” by Marcia Johnson (US Premiere- Peterborough Players), “Mitchelville” (Lean Ensemble Theatre), “SWEAT” by Lynn Nottage (SUNY Purchase), “The October Storm” by Joshua Allen (Hudson Stage), “Crowndation” by Angelica Cheri (National Black Theatre, Center Theatre Group), “The Hunting Season” by Magaly Colimon (Planet Connections Award for Best Direction), “You Wouldn’t Expect” by Marilynn Anselmi (American Bard Theater), “Fucking A” by Suzan-Lori Parks (SUNY Purchase).  He is proud to be a New York University Graduate and an adjunct theater professor at SUNY Purchase.

The Fire This Time Festival was founded in 2009 by Kelley Girod to provide a platform for playwrights of African and African-American descent to write and produce evocative material for diverse audiences. Since the debut of the first 10-minute play program in 2010, presented in collaboration with FRIGID New York, The Fire This Time Festival has has produced and developed the work of more than 100 playwrights including Katori Hall, Dominique Morisseau, Radha Blank, Antoinette Nwandu, Jocelyn Bioh, korde arrington tuttle, Stacey Rose, Aziza Barnes, C.A. Johnson, Kevin R. Free, Charly Evon Simpson, Angelica Cheri, James Anthony Tyler, Jordan E. Cooper, Eliana Pipes, Cynthia Grace Robinson, York Walker, Cyrus Aaron and Nathan Yungerberg. 

The Fire This Time’s first anthology, “25 Plays from The Fire This Time Festival: A Decade of Recognition, Resistance, Rebirth, and Black Theater” edited by Kelley Girod was published by Bloomsbury in 2022. The anthology includes plays by Dominique Morisseau, Charly Evon Simpson, Angelica Cheri, Derek Lee McPhatter, Deneen Reynolds-Knott, Tracey Conyer Lee and others. 

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