David C. Driskell Center

“Tell Your Story”

An Interdisciplinary Conference on August Wilson and African American Theatre, Art, and Culture


Spirits Watching, 1986
Handcolored Offset Lithograph., edition of 100
21.50" x 29.75"

David C. Driskell ©

Organized by The David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland , College Park


In the spring of 2007, the David C. Driskell Center sponsored a national interdisciplinary conference celebrating the life and work of award-winning playwright, August Wilson. The “Tell Your Story” conference honored one of the most significant playwrights in American theatre history, and allowed the Driskell Center to share its unique perspective on the intersections between the visual arts and culture of African Americans and the African diaspora.

The three-day event featured acclaimed scholars, playwrights, and performers, including Harry J. Elam and David Krasner (winners of the Errol Hill Award for outstanding publications in African American Theatre), renowned Wilson expert Sandra Shannon, author of the new Cambridge Companion to August Wilson , Christopher Bigsby, Emmy Award-winning artist Scot Reese, Tony-nominated performer Charles Dutton, performer-activist Rhodessa Jones, and Tony-nominated director, Kenny Leon.

Conference-goers also had the opportunity to view staged readings of three new works by African American playwrights, including Caleen Sinnette Jennings, David Emerson Toney, and Karen L.B. Evans. Visual artists Jefferson Pinder and Chandra Dieppa Oritz presented works that demonstrated how Wilson ' language translates from the stage into art.

In creating the conference, the Driskell Center joined forces with a host of national institutions including the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the American Theatre and Drama Society, the Black Theatre Network, the Black Theatre Association, and the Pepsi Foundation, along with the University of Maryland's Department of Theatre, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Howard University, and the University of Virginia.

In the spring of 2008, the Center will collaborate with two scholarly journals, Women and Performance and The New England Theatre Journal to publish collections of essays developed at the Wilson conference.


Co-sponsored by the David C. Driskell Center , The Department of Theatre at the University of Maryland , The College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland ,The Association for Theatre in Higher Education, The American Theatre and Drama Society, The Black Theatre Association, The Pepsi Foundation,Howard University , The University of Virginia, The Black Theatre Network, and the Millennium Arts Salon.