top of page

Authors Theatre

Donnetta Lavinia Grays

7:30 p.m. Monday, April 4
Staged reading
Arena Theatre, UAlbany Performing Arts Center
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222


Playwright-actor-director Donnetta Lavinia Grays presents her play-in-progress, "Kudzu Calling," a celebration of Black Southern love that is at once familial, spiritual, and queer. Commissioned by Alabama Shakespeare Festival, "Kudzu Calling" seeks to “expand and complicate the Southern narrative for the American stage.”

The reading of this new work will feature UAlbany students, working alongside professional actors, and include a conversation with the artists following the staged reading.

Grays, a native of South Carolina, describes it as “my love letter to the place that made me.” She has received the Whiting Award for Drama and the Helen Merrill Playwright Award, and her plays have been produced at the Denver Center Theatre Company and Baltimore Center Stage. The off-Broadway debut of her solo show "Where We Stand" received Lortel Award and Drama League Award nominations.

Donnetta Lavinia Grays acting career spans over two decades. She is currently in rehearsal for the upcoming Broadway/Lincoln Center production of "The Skin of Our Teeth." Her credits include "In The Next Room Or The Vibrator Play" and "Well."

Donnetta Lavinia Grays

She has originated numerous roles including the Off-Broadway debut of her solo show "Where We Stand" (WP Theater/Baltimore Centerstage), "Men on Boats" (Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb), "O Earth" (The Foundry Theatre), "Of Government," "Tin Cat Shoes" and "16 Words or Less" (all with Clubbed Thumb), "Be the Death of Me" and "In the Footprint" (The Civilians- as an Associate Artist), and "Shipwrecked! An Entertainment" (Primary Stages).


Regionally, she has enjoyed runs at American Conservatory Theater, Barrington Stage, Westport Country Playhouse, Arena Stage, Hartford Theaterworks, Portland Stage Company, Baltimore Centerstage, Huntington Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and LA Women's Shakespeare Co. She is a 2-time Connecticut Critic's Circle Award Winner and a Helen Hayes Award Nominee.


Her film and TV credits include "The Book of Henry", "Wild Canaries", "The English Teacher", and "The Wrestler." She has enjoyed recurring roles on "New Amsterdam," "Happy," "Rubicon," "Mercy," and "Law and Order SUV," and guest starring roles on "High Maintenance," "The Night Of," "Blue Bloods," "The Blacklist," "A Gifted Man," "Law and Order: CI," and "The Sopranos." Donnetta is a lecturer at The New School of Drama. She holds a bachelor's from the College of Charleston and a MFA from the University of California, Irvine. 


Abigail Jean-Baptiste (director) is a theater maker, director and writer born in New York City with roots in Haiti and the American South.  Her work intersects with critical race theory and reimagines understandings of the past. Currently a Soho Rep Project Number One Artist and New Georges Affiliated Artist, she is also part of the Roundabout Director’s Group, Bushwick Starr Reading Series, Classic Stage Company Associate Board and The New Georges Jam. In 2020, she was named one of the “Powerhouse Women Directors Theatre Fans and Industry Pros Alike Need to Know” by Playbill. Most recently, she directed "The House That Will Not Stand" (Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans). Other directing projects include: "Escapegoat" by May Treuhaft-Ali (Theater Accident & Climate Change Theater Action); "The Story of a Circle" by David Ryan Smith (Soho Rep.); "A Case for Black Girls Setting Central Park on Fire" by Kori Alston (Clubbed Thumb, Reading Series); and "the salt women" by Audley Puglisi (Playwrights Realm, Reading Series). A Proud Lilly Award Winner. B.A. Princeton University.

Jean-Remy Monnay

Jean-Remy Monnay (performer) was born in Haiti, and moved to New York in at the age of 18 to continue his education and acting career. Remy is an Associate Artist with Capital Repertory Theatre, and Producing Artistic Director of the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York, founded in 2009 with the mission to promote performances and theatrical pieces by and about artists of color, to foster a greater understanding, appreciation, and participation in the performing arts within communities of color. As an actor he has appeared in over 200 plays, films, commercials, and documentary voice overs. As a director and producer, his credits include "The Light," "Barbecue," "Dead and Breathing," "Ain’t Misbehavin’," "A Lesson Before Dying," "The Niceties," "Mountaintop," Camp Logan, Fences, Eclipsed, Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist, and many more. He became a SAG/AFTRA member in 2019, and recently retired after 30 years of service with New York State.

Mfoniso Udofia

Mfoniso Udofia (performer) is a New York-based, first generation Nigerian-American storyteller, actor, and educator whose work centers on African immigration in the United States. As an actor she recently appeared Off-Broadway in Ngozi Anyanwu's "The Homecoming Queen."

She’s also appeared in the feature film, "Fred Won't Move Out." As a playwright, she is the recipient of the 2017 Helen Merrill Playwright Award and a McKnight National Residency, and is the author of the  nine-play cycle entitled "The Ufot Cycle," which follows a Nigerian immigrant family across generations navigating their lives and identities in America. Six of the nine plays have been produced in theaters across America, three untitled plays are still being developed and written. Family and generational differences appear throughout much of her work, in "Her Portmanteau" we see a mother, Abasiama, and her two daughters attempting to reconcile with their different navigations of legacy. In "runboyrun," which recently premiered Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop, the story follows of how acts of survival are passed down through generations of a family lineage.  

Presented by the UAlbany Theatre Program and the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment in collaboration with the NYS Writers Institute

bottom of page