Ifa Bayeza

Distinguished Artist in Residence and Senior Visiting Lecturer

Ifa Bayeza is an award-winning playwright, producer and conceptual artist. Bayeza has received numerous honors for her latest work as a playwright, The Ballad of Emmett Till, including the Mystery Writers of America 2009 Edgar Award for best play, selection for the 2005 Juneteenth Festival of New Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, a 2005-2006 artist-in-residence fellowship from Brown University’s Rites & Reasons Theatre and Providence Black Repertory Theatre, a Eugene O’Neill 2007 Playwrights Conference fellowship, and the inaugural artist residency at the SonEdna Literary Foundation. Bayeza’s other works for the stage include Amistad Voices, Club Harlem, and Homer G & the Rhapsodies, for which she received a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays fellowship. Her work has been performed at The Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, New Federal Theatre, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Crossroads Theatre, National Black Arts Festival and BRAVA Women’s Center for the Arts. Bayeza also served as the original dramaturge and set designer for her sister Ntozake Shange’s landmark production of for colored girls who considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf at New Federal Theatre and The Public Theatre.

Bayeza is co-founder of DBA Studios, an independent production company, creating innovative theatre-based work that encourages dialogue among races, cultures and people. Her hip-hop musical, Kid Zero, designed to give children new tools to understand math, launched the company in 2005 and, to date, has been seen by over 10,000 Chicago Public School students. A graduate of Harvard University, Bayeza is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the founding board member of the SonEdna Literary Foundation.

Most recently, Bayeza co-authored, Some Sing, Some Cry, with her sister Ntozake Shange. Some Sing, Some Cry traces the course of one family from enslavement to freedom, from the heady days of emancipation to the dawn of the 21st century.

Bayeza is currently working on a commission awarded by the Black Metropolis Research Consortium in Chicago to begin development of an original musical about the founding years of DuSable High School (1935-1939).

Selected Publications:

  • Some Sing, Some Cry: A Novel, co-authored with Ntozake Shange

Courses Taught

  • New Narratives in African American History: The Art and Craft of Poetic and Creative Non-Fiction