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Lorraine Hansberry Documentary and Playwriting Workshop:  Writing Your Truth

  • August Wilson Center 980 Liberty Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (map)

 Writing Your Truth: Playwriting Workshop --
with Caleen Sinnette Jennings
Women and Diversity in the Theater

March 26, 27, 2018
August Wilson Center, Pittsburgh

Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is the first-ever feature documentary about Lorraine Hansberry, the visionary playwright who authored the groundbreaking A Raisin in the Sun. The film reveals Hansberry’s prescient works tackling race, human rights,women’s equality and sexuality that anticipated social and political movements on the horizon.

Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart features Tony Award®-winning actress Anika Noni Rose as the voice of Hansberry, interviews with Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte and Louis Gossett, Jr. and narration by LaTanya Richardson Jackson. Filmmaker and Peabody Award-winner Tracy Heather Strain (Unnatural Causes, I’ll Make Me a World) crafts the story of one woman who believed, like many of her generation, that words could change society. 

After the film, join us for a moderated panel featuring the creative team behind the film and a reception celebrating the film and the empowerment of women. Both the panel and reception are included with paid admission to the documentary. The reception includes complimentary hors d'oeuvres and live music by a female jazz trio.



Tracy Heather Strain’s teaching focuses on documentary storytelling, production management and history. She is an award-winning filmmaker and film/video director, producer, writer and consultant with over 28 years of experience. Her latest broadcast documentary, “The Mine Wars” AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, for which she served as coordinating producer, tells the story of West Virginia coal miners’ uprisings in the early 20th century, and will air on PBS early 2016. Emerging technologies in the service of storytelling, production management and education—interactive documentary storytelling, online media and interdisciplinary humanities course development are particular interests.

Professor Strain is currently producing Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, a feature documentary about the late playwright Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun), a key component of her multiplatform initiative focused on fostering artistic expression, empowering activists, supporting healthy identity development and promoting academic achievement through media stories about the life, art and times of Hansberry. She is President and CEO of Fort Point Channel-based media company, The Film Posse, which she runs with husband/partner Randall MacLowry. Professor Strain received her EdM in Technology, Innovation and Education from Harvard University.


CALEEN SINNETTE JENNINGS is an actor, director, playwright, and a founding member of The Welders, a D.C. Playwrights’ Collective, which won the 2016 John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. Dramatic Publishing Company has published eight of Jennings’  plays, and her work has appeared in seven play anthologies. In 2014, her play, Not Enuf Lifetimes, ran at the Atlas Center for the Performing Arts. In 2015, her play, Queens Girl in the World, did an extended run at Theatre J. In the same year, she was commissioned by the Kennedy Center to write a stage adaptation of Walter Dean Myers’ novel, Darius & Twig, which was produced at the Kennedy Center Family Theatre and will tour in 2018. Jennings has received playwriting awards from the Kennedy Center and The Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, as well as four nominations for outstanding new play from the Helen Hayes Awards.  She is Professor of Theatre in the Department of Performing Arts at American University, where she joined the faculty in 1989. In 2003, she received A.U.’s Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award.  She has been a faculty member of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute since 1994 and she was Project Manager on a 2016 NEH grant to the Folger entitled Crosstalk: D.C. Reflects on Identity and Difference.  Jennings received a B.A. in Drama from Bennington College and an M.F.A. in Acting from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.



Queens Girl in the World:  It’s summer 1962 in Queens, New York. The sounds of doo-wop music fill the night, the Civil Rights movement is stirring and 12-year-old Jacqueline Marie Butler is on the verge of adulthood. When Jacqueline’s parents abruptly transfer her to a progressive school in Greenwich Village where she is one of only four black students, she is thrust out of her comfort zone. As her circle expands to include friends from every walk of life, Jacqueline discovers a new city and a whole new world.

Queens Girl in Africa: Caleen Sinnette Jennings’ “sweet-spirited solo show” which the New York Times described as one of the breakout hits of DC's first Women's Voices Theatre Festival in 2015. Now part of the 2018 Women’s Voices Theater Festival, Queens Girl in Africa picks back up with Jacqueline Marie Butler as she and her family sail to Nigeria following the assassination of her father’s close friend, Malcolm X., this is a touching coming-of-age story of a woman finding her place in Civil War-torn Nigeria. Part of Mosaic’s new Locally Grown initiative.