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Directors Saheem Ali and Kwame Kwei-Armah have a fast-paced and joy-filled chat about stoking their creative fires in quarantine, and what kind of art they're looking forward to building on the other side.
Saheem is a proud immigrant from Kenya. Recent productions include Shipwreck (Woolly Mammoth), Fires in The Mirror (Signature Theater), The Rolling Stone (Lincoln Center Theater), The New Englanders (MTC), Passage (Soho Rep), Fireflies (Atlantic Theater Company), Dangerous House (Williamstown Theater Festival), Sugar in Our Wounds (MTC), Tartuffe (Playmakers Rep), Where Storms Are Born (WTF), Twelfth Night (Public Theater Mobile Unit), Kill Move Paradise (National Black Theater), Nollywood Dreams (Cherry Lane) and Dot (Detroit Public Theater). He has workshopped new plays at Playwrights Horizons, Playwrights Realm, MCC, New York Stage & Film, Page 73 and The Lark. He is a Usual Suspect at New York Theater Workshop, Sir John Gielgud SDCF Fellow and a Shubert Fellow.
Kwame Kwei-Armah is a British actor, playwright, director and broadcaster. In 2018 he was made Artistic Director of the Young Vic Theatre, where he has directed Twelfth Night and Tree.
From 2011 to 2018 he was previously the Artistic Director of Baltimore Center Stage where he directed: Jazz, Marley, One Night in Miami, Amadeus, Dance of the Holy Ghosts, The Mountaintop; An Enemy of the People, The Whipping Man and Things of Dry Hours. Other work as a director includes: Twelfth Night, Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, Detroit’67 (Public Theatre, New York), The Liquid Plain (Signature Theatre, New York and Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Porgy and Bess (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra) the Olivier Nominated One night in Miami for Best New Play 2016 (Donmar Warehouse) and One Love (Birmingham Repertory Theatre).
As a playwright his credits include Tree (Manchester International Festival, Young Vic), One Love (Birmingham Repertory Theatre), Beneatha’s Place (Baltimore Center Stage) Elmina’s Kitchen, Fix Up, Statement of Regret (National Theatre) Let There Be Love and Seize the Day (Tricycle Theatre).
Kwame was Artistic Director for the Festival of Black arts and Culture, Senegal, in 2010. He conceived and directed the opening ceremony at Senghor National stadium. He was an Associate Director of the Donmar Warehouse and has served on the boards of the National Theatre, Tricycle Theatre, and Theatre Communications Group. Kwame was the Chancellor of the University of the Arts London from 2010 to 2015, and in 2012 was awarded an OBE for Services to Drama.
In 2012, 2013 and 2014 Kwame was named Best Director in City Paper’s Best of Baltimore Awards and in 2015 was nominated for the prestigious Stage Directors and Choreographers Zelda Fichandler Award for Best Regional Artistic Director. In 2016 he was awarded the Urban Visionary Award alongside House Representative Elijah Cummings by the Center for Urban Families for his work in the Baltimore community. In 2019 he was appointed the Chair of the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting. Kwame is a patron of Ballet Black and a visiting fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University.