We recently have been exposed to many new playwrights and we can’t really call them new but they’re new to us. However, sometimes there are those who have a way with words that strike you internally. We’ve discussed two of our new found favorites Dominique Morriseau (Detroit ’67) and Harrison David Rivers (Look Upon Our Lowliness) but we feel, we must add someone else to this list. His name is Dennis A. Allen II and he’s a skilled craftsmen with his pen. His work consistently stands out among the rest. Not taking away from any of the other many talented writers, It’s just when you hear well put together words that hold so much power it paints a picture so clear that you dream it and you feel it and smell the environment, you can NOT forget it. This is Dennis A. Allen II.
We first saw a piece he did at the Fire This Time Festival:
Within Untainted Wombs
By Dennis A. Allen II
Directed by Christopher Burris
An expecting mother participates in a clinical trial that gives her the ability to communicate with her unborn child, but she soon finds that some thoughts are better left unshared.
We then were able to see a piece he wrote for a unique work entitled “American Slavery Project: Unheard Voices”
Both of those pieces were fairly short, 5-10 minutes at most, and we knew he had something. However, it wasn’t until we heard a reading of his most recent work, “When We Wake Up Dead”, that we completely understood that Mr. Allen was more than a playwright.
Twin brothers from New York take a trip to Mississippi to visit their terminally sick uncle and discover a suicidal cousin and their aunt boxed in on all sides by death. When We Wake Up Dead is an exploration into a black family’s attempt to stay cohesive while going through life altering grief.
His vision of people and his ability to convey the lives he sees them living is extraordinarily rare. He doesn’t create characters, he creates people. Having only been writing for 3 years, his work screams veteran. He always loved to write but originally entered the theatre realm through acting. His love of words brought him to this point. Never really considering himself a writer until he entered his work into the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival contest, won, and then he became a published writer. This is a testament to his God-given ability.
When We Wake Up Dead was apart of a Spring Festival for The Theater Arts called “HEAR IT OUT!”. We are so glad that we were able to attend the reading that showcased Allen’s work and we look forward to seeing and hearing more from this amazing artist.
Dennis A. Allen II: New York native, his play “THE MUD IS THICKER IN MISSISSIPPI” directed by Christopher Burris, won the 2010 Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. His plays have been produced and/or developed by, Variations Theatre Group, Barrow Group Theatre, The Bowery Poetry Club (Sticky), JACK, The Lion Theatre, and ActNow Foundation. Recipient of the 2012 and 2013 Himan Brown Creative Writing Award. Collaborative Writer for The American Slavery Project’s 2012 “Unheard Voices”. Member of Liberation Theatre Company’s 2011 and 2012 Black Playwright’s Group. Featured playwright for 2013 The Fire This Time Festival. He is currently an MFA Playwriting candidate at Brooklyn College