Dael Orlandersmith, a 2020 Doris Duke Artist in the theater category, is a celebrated playwright and actress whose solo and multi-character plays have received great acclaim. Her most recent work, “Lady in Denmark” (2018), is a passionate meditation on life, love and marriage that tells the story of a Danish-American woman who finds solace and connection through the music of Billie Holiday.
Pulling from extensive interviews with Missouri residents, Orlandersmith wrote “Until the Flood,” a play chronicling the social uprising following the shooting of teenager Michael Brown, and performed it solo to rave reviews at the St. Louis Repertory Theatre in 2016. She was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist and nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play and Outstanding Actress in a Play in 2002 for “Yellowman,” a richly imagined drama centering on the divergent roads taken by two African-American friends, whose experiences of the world are shaped by insidious notions white supremacy has seeded within their families about their differing skin shades. Her play “The Gimmick,” which explores the friendship of two outsiders who bond over their mutual love of art, won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 1999. She has also toured extensively with Nuyorican Poets Café (Real Live Poetry) throughout the U.S., Europe and Australia.
In addition to her Pulitzer Prize nomination, Orlandersmith has been recognized with many awards and prizes, including the Flora Roberts Award, a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, a nomination for an Off Broadway Alliance Award – Best Solo Performance 2015, a nomination for Joseph Jefferson Equity Awards – Solo Performance 2013, the 2005 PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award, the Lucille Lortel Foundation Playwrights Fellowship and an Obie Award for “Beauty’s Daughter.”