Local Playwright Harold Ellis Clark Named Co-Sherri Marina Grant Awardee

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Local playwright Harold Ellis Clark (pictured left) was recently named a co-awardee of a Sherri Marina Memorial Grant for his play, Back in the Day. The $6,000 award will support a world premiere production of the play, tentatively scheduled to occur at Dillard University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Hall Theatre in June 2023. Other awardees include actress (The Walking Dead), playwright and Loyola University New Orleans adjunct professor Ann Mahoney for her play, God Help Them if We Wake Up, and Goat in the Road Productions’ immersive play, The Family Line, to extend the production’s current run (which began October 21st) at the BK Historic House and Gardens (New Orleans) through January 29th.

Back in the Day, set in present-day Algiers, LA, reunites an ex-offender, recently released from prison, with the woman she rescued from a sexual assault 16 years earlier. Clark was named a finalist for the 2020 Trustus Playwrights’ Festival (Columbia, SC) for the play.

The Carol Sutton/Sherri Marina Memorial Grant, launched in 2021 by Brian Sands, theater reviewer for Ambush Magazine, annually alternates honoring each late veteran actress; both died in December 2020. Sutton appeared in more than 100 films and TV shows, including Queen Sugar, The Help, Ray and True Detective. Marina, who appeared in the hit 2017 film, Girls Trip, and in several stage productions, taught theatre at both Dillard and Loyola University New Orleans.

The grant supports new plays that feature roles for black lead actors, primarily black women. Last year, Sands told Gambit Magazine that he hopes works supported by the grant will ultimately partner with theatre companies based in New York City. Grant committee members include Sands, award-wining singer Wanda Rouzan and veteran actress Gwendolyne Foxworth.

Clark, vice president of communications, external affairs, and fund development with DePaul Community Health Centers, served from August 2002 to January 2020 as host/producer of the public affairs show, WYLD-FM’s Sunday Journal with Hal Clark, five-time winner of the Best Radio Talk Show Award at the annual Press Club of New Orleans’ Excellence in Journalism Awards Competition Gala. He was named one of two finalists for the Stanley Drama Award an unprecedented three times for his plays Tour Detour (2013), Uncle Bobby ’63 (2015), and Madame Thames’ Spirit Bar (2016), during award ceremonies held at The Players Club in Manhattan, NY.

NOLA.com theatre reviewer Bruce Burgin called the 2016 world premiere of Clark’s intensely acted father and son drama, Tour Detour, starring veteran actor Harold Sylvester (An Officer and a Gentleman, Married with Children) a “transfixing show. Clark’s play is closer to the gut-wrenching, ethically provocative conflicts of South African playwright Athol Fugard.” NOLA.com theatre reviewer Theodore P. Mahne, in 2012, said, “Clark’s provocative new drama, Fishers of Men, poses vital questions of seeking redemption, justice in a crime-ridden community.”

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