It appears that 2016 can be classified as a very good year for playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. Building on a thirteen-year career trajectory that has included critical acclaim for his early plays, followed by commissions to write such works as CHOIR BOY and HEAD OF PASSES, and then winning the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship Grant in 2013 , you would think all of that would be hard to top.
This year he appears to have done just that. McCraney’s unproduced play, IN MOONLIGHT BLACK BOYS LOOK BLUE, has been adapted into the critically acclaimed film MOONLIGHT by filmmaker Barry Jenkins. There’s a a great deal of speculation that it might be in contention for several Oscars.
But the year isn’t over. Now McCraney has been picked to chair the Playwriting Department at the Yale School of Drama. His three-year appointment begins July 1, 2017.
McCraney should be very familiar with the responsibilities of the job since he brings the unique perspective of being a 2007 graduate of the program.
In addition to serving as chairman, McCraney will be the playwright-in-residence at the Yale Repertory Theater. He succeeds Paula Vogel who is headed to Broadway with a new play.
Since graduating from Yale, McCraney has written such highly praised works as THE BROTHER /SISTER PLAYS, IN THE RED AND BROWN WATER, WIG OUT!, AMERICAN TRADE and MARCUS, OR THE SECRET OF SWEET. He was the International Writer in Residence for the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2008 to 2010 and a resident playwright at New Dramatists. His works have been performed at such venues as the Public Theater/NYSF, Steppenwolf Theatre, London’s Young Vic, and the McCarter Theatre.
In a recent interview Mr. McCraney said that he felt this new role came with an “extreme responsibility.” “We’ve seen the rise of more voices in theater and especially more voices that didn’t have access before,… But those voices aren’t centered. Those voices are still somehow marginalized.” He concluded by posing a few questions: “Are we really reflecting the community? Are their voices represented?” As if to answer himself McCraney said. “Those are questions for my work. I can help advocate for the voices around me.”