Dominique Morisseau

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Dominique Morisseau
Born (1978-03-13) March 13, 1978 (age 44)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
OccupationPlaywright, Actor
EducationUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor (BFA)
Notable awardsChambers Playwriting Award
NAACP Image Award
Primus Prize for an Emerging Woman Playwright
The Steinberg Playwright Award
Stavis Playwriting Award
Obie Award, 2016
MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the 'Genius Grant'), 2018

Dominique Morisseau (born March 13, 1978) is an American playwright and actress from Detroit, Michigan. She has authored over nine plays,[1] three of which are part of a cycle titled The Detroit Project.[2] She was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the 'Genius Grant') for 2018.

Early life[edit]

Morisseau grew up in Detroit, Michigan, with her mother and father. Her mother's family is from Mississippi and her father's family is from Haiti.[3] Later, she attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where she received her BFA in Acting in 2000.[2] There she met her husband, J. Keys, who is also from Michigan. Keys was born in Detroit but grew up in Southfield on the outskirts of the city. He is a music industry promoter, emcee and hip hop musician.[4] The couple married in 2013.[5][6]



Morisseau's performance career began as a live poetry speaker, primarily in her hometown community of Harmonie Park in Detroit.[2] After graduating from college, she continued acting and worked with several organizations. At the Lark Play Development Center she worked as an actor in a developmental production of The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, workshopping the role of Camae. In 2013, in a production at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, she reprised the role of Camae.[3] She continues acting now, but has stated that she would not act in any of her plays' premieres.[3]


Morisseau began writing plays in college. She has stated that the lack of roles for her at the University of Michigan is what drove her to start writing plays. She wrote The Blackness Blues: Time to Change the Tune, A Sister's Story at this time.[3] After college, in 2012 and 2013, she received a Playwrights of New York (PoNY) fellowship at the Lark Play Development Center.[3][7] She has also worked as a Teaching Artist with City University of New York's Creative Arts Team. Morisseau has said that music plays a huge part in her work and often informs the work that she is writing. "It's a resource and clue to my work, and music plays a unifier among cultural barriers."[8]

Morisseau was on the list of Top 20 Most Produced Playwrights in America in 2015–16, with 10 productions of her plays nationwide.[3][9]

Morisseau is a story editor for the television series Shameless on Showtime and is also credited as a co-producer.[10][11]

She wrote the book for the jukebox musical Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations, which is directed by Des McAnuff. The musical opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre in March 2019. It played pre-Broadway engagements at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre (2017), the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles (August to September 2018),[12] and the Kennedy Center (July 2018). This marked Morisseau's Broadway debut,[13] and she received a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical nomination, the third Black woman to do so.


The Detroit Project[edit]

Morisseau has written a three-play cycle, titled The Detroit Project. The three plays (in order) are:[1]

Detroit '67[edit]

This play "explores an explosive and decisive moment in a great American city.[3] The play's compelling characters struggle with racial tension and economic instability."[14] It began its development at The Public Theater in New York where it was workshopped. Detroit '67 eventually went on to be featured at the Classical Theatre of Harlem with the National Black Theatre. It was nominated for eight AUDELCO Theatre Awards and received the 2014 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History.[2]

Paradise Blue[edit]

Former musician Blue decides to sell his beloved jazz club in order to live out his dreams. He is left with the moral dilemma of leaving his partner, Pumpkin, and his loyal jazz band behind. Morisseau developed this play first at Williamstown Theatre Festival, where it would eventually go on to have its world premiere in July 2015.[14] Paradise Blue continued its development at the McCarter Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, The Public Theater, and the Signature Theatre Company.[15] For this play, Morisseau received the L. Arnold Weissberger Award[14] in 2012.

Skeleton Crew[edit]

The final play in the cycle revolves around a group of auto-plant workers grappling with the likely possibility of foreclosure and impending unemployment. Skeleton Crew received a developmental production at the Lark Play Development Center.[1] Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, this play had its world premiere at the Off-Broadway Linda Gross Theater with the Atlantic Theater Company in May 2016. Skeleton Crew also won Morisseau the 2016 Obie Award Special Citation for Collaboration along with director Santiago-Hudson and the Atlantic Theater Company.[16] The play won the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award in 2015.[17] Skeleton Crew opened on Broadway in January 2022.[18] She received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Play.


Play Year Premiered Length Notes
Follow Me To Nellie's 2011 Follow me to Nellie's premiered at Premiere Stages, Kean University Zella Fry Theatre in North New Jersey in July 2011 under the direction of John Wooten.[19][20]
Detroit '67 2013 120 Minutes Detroit '67 was first presented Off Broadway at the Public Theater in association with Classical Theatre of Harlem and the National Black Theatre in New York City on March 11, 2013. It was directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah.[21]
Sunset Baby 2013 90 Minutes Sunset Baby premiered at the LAByrinth Theatre Company on November 6, 2013 under the direction of Kamilah Forbes.[22]
Night Vision 2013 10 Minutes Night Vision was originally commissioned for Facing Our Truth: Ten Minute Plays On Trayvon, Race And Privilege and produced by The New Black Fest, Keith Josef Adkins, Artistic Director. The original reading took place at the Martin Segal Theater at CUNY Graduate Center, NYC December 5, 2013.[23] An audio version of the play was released by Playing on Air in Spring 2020, featuring April Matthis and Eden Marryshow, directed by Stori Ayers.
Blood At The Root 2014 105 Minutes Blood at the Root premiered at the Penn State School of Theater in March 2014 under the direction of Steve Broadnax III.[1][24]
Paradise Blue 2015 120 Minutes Paradise Blue premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, MA in July 2015 under the direction of Ruben Santiago-Hudson.[14][25]
Skeleton Crew 2016 120 Minutes Skeleton Crew premiered at the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City in January 2016 under the direction of Ruben Santiago-Hudson.[26]
Pipeline 2017 90 Minutes Pipeline premiered at the Lincoln Center Theatre in New York City in June 2017 under the direction of Lileana Blain-Cruz.[27] Won the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award in 2016.
Mud Row 2019 People's Light & Theatre will present the premiere of Mud Row in June 2019 under the direction of Steve H. Broadnax III.[28]
Confederates Commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Penumbra Theater, and was to premiere in New York at the Signature Theatre Company
Jazelle the Gazelle unknown 10 Minutes Jezelle the Gazelle was recorded live for Playing on Air Live Benefit in November 2019 with Mirirai Sithole in the title role under the direction of Goldie E. Patrick.
Third Grade unknown 10 Minutes


Morisseau is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the 'Genius Grant') for 2018, which includes a stipend of $625,000. She is one of 25 fellows in the 2018 Class.[29]

Morisseau was named an Honoree for the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, which recognizes plays and performance texts created by women that present a feminist perspective and contain significant opportunities for female performers.[30]

She is a two time award winner of the NAACP Image Award, which celebrates the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.[31]


  1. ^ a b c d "Dominique Morisseau". Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  2. ^ a b c d "Dominique Morisseau talks Detroit '67, Black theater and more". MSR News Online. 2015-04-08. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Evans, Suzy (2016-01-04). "Dominique Morisseau Is Telling the Story of Her People". American Theatre. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  4. ^ "J Keys Bio". Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  5. ^ "Must See: Newlyweds' Super Cute Wedding First Dance Medley". 2013-06-13. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
  6. ^ "Playwright Dominique Morisseau Can't Forget the Motor City". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
  7. ^ "Awards & Prizes." American Theatre. July 2012 (vol. 29.6), pp. 18-20. Retrieved via ProQuest database, 2017-07-12.
  8. ^ Serviss, Naomi. "BWW Interviews: Playwright Dominique Morisseau of DETROIT '67". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  9. ^ Tran, Diep (2015-09-15). "The Top 20 Most-Produced Playwrights of the 2015–16 Season". American Theatre. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  10. ^ a b "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Dominique Morisseau Win 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards". American Theatre. 2015-09-22. Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  11. ^ "Dominique Morisseau | Samuel French". Retrieved 2019-12-13.
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew. " 'Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations' Starts Los Angeles Run" Playbill, August 21, 2018
  13. ^ McPhee, Ryan. " 'Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of the Temptations' Sets Dates for Spring Broadway Bow" Playbill, October 2, 2018
  14. ^ a b c d "Paradise Blue | Williamstown Theatre Festival". Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  15. ^ "Signature Theatre". Signature Theatre Company. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  16. ^ Village Voice Staff, "The Complete List of 2016 Obie Award Honorees" The Village Voice, May 24, 2016
  17. ^ Group, TCG: Theatre Communications. "TCG: Theatre Communications Group > Edgerton Foundation > New Play Awards > 2015 Awards". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  18. ^ "Skeleton Crew". Manhattan Theatre Club. Retrieved 2021-11-09.
  19. ^ "Follow Me to Nellie's | North Jersey | reviews, cast and tickets | TheaterMania". TheaterMania. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  20. ^ Sommers, Michael (2011-07-22). "Love and Segregation in 'Follow Me to Nellie's' - Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  21. ^ "Detroit '67 | Samuel French". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  22. ^ "Sunset Baby | Samuel French". Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  23. ^ "Night Vision". Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  24. ^ "Blood at the Root | Samuel French". Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  25. ^ "Paradise Blue | Samuel French". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  26. ^ "Skeleton Crew | Samuel French". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  27. ^ "Pipeline | Samuel French". Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  28. ^ "People's Light to Premiere New Dominique Morisseau Play". American Theatre. 2018-04-10. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  29. ^ McPhee, Ryan. "Playwright Dominique Morisseau Named MacArthur Foundation 'Genius Grant' Recipient" Playbill, October 4, 2018
  30. ^ "Jane Chambers Playwriting Award - Association for Theatre in Higher Education". Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  31. ^ "NAACP Image Awards : 48th NAACP Image Awards – LIVE, Saturday Feb 11, 2017". NAACP Image Awards. Archived from the original on July 15, 2007. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  32. ^ "American Theatre Critics Association - Primus Prize". Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  33. ^ a b "Detroit '67 | A play by Dominique Morisseau". Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  34. ^ "University of Michigan Emerging Leader Award | University of Michigan Detroit Center". University of Michigan Detroit Center. Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  35. ^ a b "Columbia University Awards the Kennedy Prize for Drama to Dominque Morisseau." Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (Online). 2014-02-28. Retrieved via ProQuest database, 2017-07-12.
  36. ^ "2016 Obie Award Winners Announced | Obie Awards". Obie Awards. 2016-05-23. Retrieved 2018-05-10.

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