Nonprofit organization Black Broadway Men, Inc. has announced playwright Cris Eli Blak as the winner of its 2023 BBM Playwriting Initiative.
As the winner, Blak will receive a full rehearsal process of his play The Final Verses of the Prophet and Wiz, as well as a final 29-hour reading. In preparation for the reading, Blak will develop his work with a Black male-identifying writer. Blak is an emerging playwright originally from Houston, Texas.
Blak was selected by the Black Broadway Men Playwriting Initiative Committee, which was comprised of two of BBM's founders Ahmad Simmons (West Side Story) and Broadway alum Anthony Wayne in addition to Jesse Kearney. They were assisted by Jamal Williams, Derek McPhatter, Benjamin Smith, and Livingston Steele.
Black Broadway Men, who will sponsor the reading, will also provide a director, production stage manager, dramaturg, and equity actors. The presentation is set to be held in New York City in May at an invite-only event. The initiative accepted applicants who are Black male-identifying playwrights between the ages of 18 and 35.
Black Broadway Men, Inc. was founded in 2020 by Wayne, Simmons, James T. Lane (Kiss Me, Kate), Terence Archie (Company), Sir Brock Warren (Summer: The Donna Summer Musical), and Isaiah Josiah. The racial equality group is open to all self-identifying Black men who work on stage or behind the scenes in theatre and aims to provide a safe space for Black male theatre professionals.