Charlayne Woodard

Plays written by Charlayne Woodard


The Night Watcher – (1W) Simultaneously a best friend, advisor, confidant and sage to the many young people who call her “Auntie,” Charlayne Woodard is childless only by biological standards. Told with penetrating grace and candor, Woodard beautifully weaves together stories of the ordinary and extraordinary ways she has mentored the children in her life.

Pretty Fire – (1W) The stage is bare except for a wooden loveseat and a young African-American woman. Then the lyrical, lifting words of Charlayne Woodard begin weaving stories of two young sisters in the small world of Albany, New York; of Ku Klux Klan riders burning a cross—the ironic “pretty fire” of the title—in the hilltop black town of Rosignol Hill, Georgia; of three generations of family love, struggle and triumph. And suddenly that empty stage becomes crowded with the authentic, mesmerizing experience of contemporary African-American life. Pretty Fire is an enthralling celebration of life. Filled with earthy humor, it takes readers on a universal journey through a world in which the family bond is as strong as steel.


Ms. Woodard’s first solo play, Pretty Fire, was produced at Manhattan Theatre Club (“MTC”). Pretty Fire received LA Drama Critics and NAACP awards for best play and best playwright. Her second solo play, Neat, was developed at Seattle Repertory Theatre. At MTC, Neat received the Irving and Blanche Laurie Theatre Vision Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination. Her third solo play, In Real Life, was commissioned by Center Theatre Group (“CTG”) and Seattle Repertory Theatre, and was developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab. At MTC, Ms. Woodard was nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for best solo performance. The play received an Audelco award, Backstage West Garland award, and NAACP awards for best playwright and actor. Flight, a play for 6 actors, was commissioned by P.L.A.Y. at CTG. Flight was produced by CTG at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles and by ACT in Seattle. Ms. Woodard’s recent solo play, The Night Watcher, has been produced by the La Jolla Playhouse and The Seattle Repertory Theatre. Ms. Woodard was recently awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters from De Paul University. She also completed a TCG/PEW Charitable Trust National Theatre Artist Residency Program Fellowship at CTG. She is a guest artist at California Institute for the Arts where she teaches solo performance to 3rd year Masters’ students. Ms. Woodard’s recent theatre credits include In The Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks, for which she received an Obie Award, Fabulation by Lynn Nottage and Purgatorio by Ariel Dorfman. On Broadway, she was nominated for Tony and Drama Desk awards for her role in the original company of Ain’t Misbehavin’. Ms. Woodard’s recent film credits include: John Sayle’s Sunshine State; M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable; Wim Wender’s Million Dollar Hotel; Nicholas Hytner’s The Crucible; and John Schlesinger’s Eye For An Eye. Currently, Ms. Woodard recurs on Law and Order, SVU and ER and was most recently seen in Zealot with the South Coast Repertory. Ms. Woodard was trained at Goodman School of Drama in Chicago and is a member of The Actor’s Studio.

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