Katori Hall

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Katori Hall
Katori Hall, January 2011.png
Katori Hall in 2011
Born (1981-05-10) May 10, 1981 (age 37)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
OccupationPlaywright, journalist, actress
EducationColumbia University (BA)
Harvard University (MFA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)

Katori Hall (born May 10, 1981) is an American playwright, journalist, and actress from Memphis, Tennessee.


Hall graduated from Columbia University in 2003 with a major in African-American Studies and Creative Writing. She was awarded top departmental honors from the university's Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS). In 2005, she graduated from the American Repertory Theater's Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University with a Master of Fine Arts in Acting, and graduated from the Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace playwriting program in 2009.[1]


Her play The Mountaintop, about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last night before his assassination, premiered in London in 2009 to great critical acclaim. After a sell-out run at Theatre 503, the play transferred to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End. The production was directed by James Dacre and featured British actors David Harewood and Lorraine Burroughs. Harewood was nominated for Best Actor in the Evening Standard and Whatsonstage Awards and Burroughs for Best Actress in the Olivier Awards. The production was also nominated for Best New Play in the Olivier and Whatsonstage Awards and Most Promising Playwright in the Evening Standard Awards. Hall won the best new play award at the Laurence Olivier Awards in March 2010 for The Mountaintop. The win made her the first black woman in history to win the Olivier Award for Best New Play.[2] In September 2011, The Mountaintop opened on Broadway starring Samuel L. Jackson as Dr. Martin Luther King and Angela Bassett as a mysterious maid. It attracted both praise and controversy.[3] In January 2011 during the extension of the show, lead producers Jean Doumanian and Sonia Friedman announced that The Mountaintop had recouped its entire capitalization of $3.1 million.

The Independent called The Mountaintop "breathtaking". Theater critic Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph gave the production five stars and hailed it a "triumph".

Other plays include Hoodoo Love,[4] which was produced Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City, Remembrance, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, WHADDABLOODCLOT!!!!, and Pussy Valley.

In October 2011, Hall, along with Annie Baker, Will Eno, Kenneth Lonergan and Regina Taylor were among the playwrights chosen for The Pershing Square Signature Theatre new Residency Five initiative in New York. Residency Five makes the writers resident playwrights with the company and guarantees each of them three full world-premiere productions over a five-year residency.[5]

Hall's play Hurt Village, the gritty drama about life and change in a Memphis housing project made its world-premiere at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company as part of the theatre's inaugural season. The play, which won the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Award, was presented with support from the 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award from TCG.[6] The play starred Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins, as well as Marsha Stephanie Blake, Ron Cephas Jones, Saycon Sengbloh, Lloyd Watts, Charlie Hudson III, Nicholas Christopher, Corey Hawkins, Ron Cephas Jones and Joaquina Kalukango.[7]

Hall will make her feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of her own play, Hurt Village.[8]

In November 2014, Our Lady of Kibeho, the second play of Hall's residency at The Pershing Square Signature Theatre, had its world premiere in The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center, directed by Michael Greif. In Our Lady of Kibeho, Hall tells the story of a real life case which occurred in 1981, when a group of Rwandan schoolgirls claimed to see a vision of the Virgin Mary.


Her awards include a Laurence Olivier Award Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Lark Play Development Center Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellowship, Kate Neal Kinley Fellowship, two Lecompte du Nouy Prizes from Lincoln Center, Fellowship of Southern Writers Bryan Family Award in Drama, NYFA Fellowship, and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award. Hall was shortlisted for the London Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award and received the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award from the William Inge Theatre Festival. She is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. In 1999, Hall graduated from Craigmont High School (Memphis, TN) as the first African-American valedictorian.

Hall has been published as a book reviewer, journalist, and essayist in publications such as The Boston Globe, Essence, Newsweek and The New York Times. She has been a Kennedy Center Playwriting Fellow at the O’Neill.


  1. ^ "Q&A With Katori Hall". Alumni News. The Juilliard School. September 2011.
  2. ^ "From a play without a venue to a first for the Olivier Awards". The Independent. March 22, 2010. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  3. ^ "Tell It on the Mountain". Columbia Magazine. Columbia University. Winter 2011–2012.
  4. ^ The Paris Review. "Katori Hall, My First Time". The Paris Review. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  5. ^ Jones, Kenneth (September 19, 2011). "Katori Hall, Annie Baker and Will Eno Among Playwrights Picked for Residency at NYC's Signature". Playbill.com.
  6. ^ Schulenburg, August (October 2011). "Second Round of 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Awards". tcgcircle.org.
  7. ^ Blank, Matthew (February 23, 2012). "PHOTO CALL: Tonya Pinkins, Saycon Sengbloh and More in Katori Hall's Hurt Village". Playbill.com.
  8. ^ Obenson, Tambay A. (October 24, 2014). "Exclusive: Award-Winning Playwright Katori Hall to Make Feature Film Directorial Debut w/ 'Hurt Village' Adaptation".

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