Works by Mark Clayton Southers

The Art of Wise

Part of the 19th Century Collection (1822).

The Igbo Landing

Part of the 19th Century Collection (1803).

The Coffin Maker

Part of the 19th Century Collection (1849).

Upcoming production:

May 2024, Pittsburgh Public Theater

The Bluegrass Mile

Part of the 19th Century Collection (1899).


October 2023, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre



Adapted into an award-winning feature film by Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Summer 2021, played at various film festivals.

Savior Samuel

Part of the 19th Century Collection (1877).


February 2019, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre
August 2022, Main Stage Performance Series of the National Black Theatre Festival, North Carolina

The script for this play is now available in print on Amazon.

The Battle of Homestead


September 2017, The Battle of Homestead Foundation (as The Homestead Strike of 1892)

Miss Julie, Clarissa, and John

Part of the 19th Century Collection (1888).


March 2016, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre
September 2016, The Black Rep
July 2017, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre
August 2017, National Black Theatre Festival
August 2017, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The script for this play is now available in print on Amazon.

More about the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre production.

Audience Comments
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Audience Comments

Comments From Audience Members (2016 Premiere)

"I had the pleasure of seeing this play, excellently written by Mark Clayton Southers and well directed by Monteze Freeland this past weekend. It features stellar performances all around, and is a solid and finely executed production. This is local theater, incredibly well done.... Make time to go see it because there aren't many of its kind." - Jackie Baker

"An absolutely shattering experience.... Using Strindberg as a prompt, but digging so much deeper & prodding so much more painfully, Mark Clayton Southers has crafted an American tragedy about race, class, power, & pain on a Virginia tobacco plantation during Reconstruction. Tami Dixon is brilliant as the cruel & pitiful Julie, a belle just past her prime, clawing for control. Kevin Brown is powerful as John, a man trying to hold onto some shred of dignity. And Chrystal Bates is magnificent as Clarissa, the forsaken--widow, orphan, bastard. The play is sensitively directed by Monteze Freeland. The heavy moments are carefully balanced by some levity, but the play follows a sharp slope toward its inevitable crash. The audience last night was stunned by the conclusion. I am still shaken." - Hazel Leroy

"Great theater is not watching a play. Great theater is about being transported into a story and feeling you are part of the tale. With "Miss Julie, Clarissa and John" I was in a share cropper cabin in the late 1800's. Thank you Mark Clayton Southers for a beautiful, poignant story. Brilliant acting by Tami Dixon, Chrystal Bates and Kevin Brown. Tight direction by Monteze Freeland make this a great performance." - Rich Kenzie

"Run, do not walk, to see miss Julie, Carissa and John at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company!!! Incredible performances by Tami Dixon, Chrystal Bates, and Kevin Brown. Smart, tight and insightful direction by Monteze Freeland of this striking and heartbreaking play by Mark Clayton Southers. Go see this now so you can say you'd seen the world premiere production, because this play is going to be done over and over and over and over again. Bravo to everyone involved!!!!" - Lisa Ann Goldsmith

"So last night, I went to see Pittsburgh Playwrights' Miss Julie, Clarissa, and John written by Mark Clayton Southers and directed by Monteze Freeland. This play was so well written, so beautifully directed, and so well acted that I didn't want it to be over. I was completely engrossed, and I couldn't be more proud of everyone. To all of those involved, thank you for taking me on such an amazing artistic journey. GO SEE IT! YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!" - Dominique Dobson Briggs

"Amazing piece of writing from Mark Clayton Southers.... People, just go see top-notch acting bring this new play to life. I know nothing -yet - about the other work(s) that inspired this, but I am confident that "Miss Julie, Clarissa and John" will stand on its own impressive merits. Great work guiding this, Monteze Freeland; you made the author laugh out loud, and I shivered at several transcendant, powerful moments." - David Malehorn

"I was able to catch an opening weekend performance of this play, and cannot recommend it enough. Ted Hoover sums it all up in the last lines of his review - not one to miss! The acting is brilliant, Monteze Freeland's direction is brilliant, and Mark Clayton Southers has presented Pittsburgh audiences (and audiences in other cities to come, I am sure) with a wonderful theatrical gift. Don't pass up the chance to see one of the remaining shows!" - Michael McBurney

Comments From Audience Members (2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe)

"I cannot say enough good things about the tightly wrought production of “Miss Julie, Clarissa, and John” by the Pittsburgh Playwrights that we saw tonight at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017. This is a high impact performance! An important play about a time we must never forget - and it is viewed through a sharp modern lens.

"The three handed cast brings truly professional craft and focused power to every moment; it is the kind of not to be missed ensemble work rarely found these days. The result, as an audience member, is that it is impossible not to care about each of these characters.

"With no theatrical waste or fluff - the tight direction by Monteze Freeland has clearly helped foster an environment in which these professionals can do what they do best. There is an an organic, flexible rhythm to the interactions that feels fresh and continually pulls you in.

"Perhaps the strongest part of this very strong show is the brilliant writing of Mark Clayton Southers. His incisive prose spirals from the stage — boring into you as it wakes you up to the reality of this time period. Stylistic without being deliberatively “stylish”, the script opens windows that allow us to see the characters more clearly than they see themselves, and then love them or hate them all the more for it.

This show has a surprisingly deep resonance with our moment today. Go! Meet these characters and get to know this fabulous company. You will not be sorry." - Kevin Noe'Rourke

"This is an excellent show. The acting was superb. Marvelous character development; true to the sad history of the American South and the history of oppression everywhere." - Betsy Barefoot

Angry Black Man Poetry


January 2009, Wheeling Jesuit University
February 2009, Teatr Śląski, Katowice, Poland

A chronicle of the Polish production by cast member Carter Redwood.

I Nipoti


March 2009, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Playwright's Notes
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Playwright's Notes

Halfway through writing this play the reality that there was a real possibility that a man of African decent could become our next president became more and more apparent. With that in mind I wondered how would the world's opinion of people of color change and how would this new world view affect not only this Culture Clash series and myself, but playwrights of African decent. Would our plays have to be labeled as period pieces? Pre Obama, post Obama?

I set the script aside for three months while thousands of thoughts roamed in and out of my conscious.

I finally returned to it fully dedicated to what the mission of the Culture Clash series is, which is to bring cultures together, here under one roof, to sit and laugh and cry, to rejoice and most importantly to learn about and from one another.

I dedicated this play to, well this is what it says in the script. "For the many wonderful and talented actors from my home town of Pittsburgh, whose mere appearance and nuanced approach to their craft, assist me in envisioning all of the theatrical possibilities that exist within our collaboration."

I hope you enjoy the evening and leave this place with some hope and belief that this country does have the possibility of a bright future. I certainly do. Oh, and just for the hell of it, go up and introduce yourself to a stranger at intermission. Shake hands and expand your repertoire.


Mark Clayton Southers

James McBride


September 2007, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

The Exile of King Harold


October 2006, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre



May 2006, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Legal Alien


December 2005, Bricolage Production Company's B.U.S., a 24 Hour Play Festival

Nine Days in the Sun

Won 2012 AAPEX Angel Effective Playwright Award and 2012 AAPEX Angel Masterpiece Award from African American Playwrights Exchange


May 2005, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre
October 17 2011, African American Playwrights Exchange, Metro Parks Theatre Department, William Jenkins & Mary Coleman Theater Project, Nashville, Tennessee (staged reading). See video excerpts of two scenes. More press.
March 2023, Theatre By The Grove in association with Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania Performing Arts Center in Indiana, PA.

The script for this play is now available in print on Amazon.

The Cure


October 2004, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

The Girls From Kankakee


October 2003, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Ashes to Africa


2001, Dayton Playhouse Future Fest
March 2003, Kuntu Repertory Theatre
May 2008, Ensemble Theatre, Houston
September 2011, Moja Festival, Art Forms and Theatre Concepts, Charleston, South Carolina

When the Water Turns Clear


May 2001, ETA Creative Arts Foundation, Chicago
September 2003, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre

Ma Noah

Published in Best Black Plays: The Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting, edited by Chuck Smith, Northwestern University Press

Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting
First-Place Winner 2003-2004

An Appraisal by Literary Artist Tameka Cage Conley, PhD
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A Class All Its Own: How Mark Southers' Ma Noah Is Challenging Black Theater

One might best describe Mark Southers’ award-winning play, Ma Noah, as a story that merges the best components of 1970s African-American sitcoms, the legendary work of August Wilson, with the accessibility of Tyler Perry’s stage and theater productions. The play is at once wildly entertaining in its offering of side-splitting humor, yet Southers drops critical, conscious, modern thought into the script, as the characters explore race, class, and social issues that affect them individually and as a family. To have penned a script that challenges the socio-cultural environment that forces main character and mother “Rebecca Pratt,” to use extreme measures to keep her family intact in a way that demonstrates the seriousness of the family’s plight without being depressing is a worthy feat. With Ma Noah, Southers challenges the idea that Black theater exists on an “either/or” plane: either the brand of “high art” in the tradition of Wilson, Hansberry, and Baraka, or “low art,” in the tradition of the “after-church” plays of Perry and others.

In Ma Noah, there is something for all, rooted in Southers’ ability to create a unique, engaging plot that celebrates the Black mother, from her ingenuity and craftiness, to her heart-wide-open generosity and forgiveness, to her steeliness and unflinching sense of justice. Yet, this is a play about the human experience as much as it is about a struggling family headed by a determined matriarch, namely because of the focus on hope in the face of hopelessness, the triumph of the human spirit and, above all, the sacred bonds of family. The characters seem to be in a constant push-and-pull, caught between their past, present, and future and the trappings of their economically depraved environment, with “Rebecca,” masterfully played by Christal Bates, at the helm, guiding the family to success and teaching them, even in their adulthood, the difference between right and wrong and their glorious potential to be great in the world, despite their struggles.

In its own way, Ma Noah suggests that just as the Black mother keeps her family intact, so has the Black woman been the backbone of American society in a historical context. Take a look at the White House, then take a look at what’s happening at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater. Many Americans love our President. Yet so many have fallen in love with Michelle Obama, who handles being a mother to her daughters and the role of First Lady—which, in essence, is like being “First Mother” to the United States—with unparalleled grace, beauty, elegance, class, and confidence. With every step of her purposeful kitten heel pump, we want Mrs. Obama to succeed. We applaud and cheer for her, just as we applaud “Rebecca Pratt,” who at the end of the play, stands wrapped in light, regal in red, cloaked in justice.

Go see this play and take someone you love. You won’t regret a moment, as you laugh, snap your fingers, and wonder how you, too, can make the world a bit more livable, a bit less gray with our blues and woes.

Tameka Cage Conley, PhD
Literary Artist


February 2004, Columbia College Chicago Theater Department
October 2004, New Horizon Theater, Pittsburgh
February 2012, Stockton Performing Arts Center, Pomona, New Jersey
April 2013, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre