Nefertiti Burton leading a Storytelling Workshop in 2015 in Sâo Paulo, Brazil.
Nefertiti Burton leading a Storytelling Workshop in 2015 in Sâo Paulo, Brazil.

UofL’s African American Theatre Program and The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage are teaming up to help people in Louisville’s West End stage their own stories.  

The project, called “Telling our Tales: Plays from West Louisville,” will offer playwriting workshops to residents of the West End as a way to explore critical issues, stimulate discussion and expose others to a more nuanced view of the community.

“We want people to experience the strength and beauty of the community as well as the challenges and struggles,” said Nefertiti Burton, chair of the UofL Theatre Arts Department.

The project was one of nine arts-based projects funded this year by the Jennifer Lawrence Arts Fund and has through February to match the $10,000 grant.  

Playwright and poet Frank X Walker will guide as many as 20 community members aged 16 and older through a series of 10 weekly workshop sessions. The sessions are designed to help residents voice their experiences living in a neighborhood that is “struggling to overcome the images of violence, poverty and apathy that have defined it in local and regional media for decades.”

Participants will hone skills in writing, performance and production. Burton said the plan is to create 10-minute plays and stage them at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage and possibly throughout the state.

“We wanted people to have the opportunity to get their stories collected and shared in such a way that they are circulated beyond West Louisville into the broader community,” Burton said.

Burton will act as the artistic director and grad students from Theatre Arts may be tapped to help as well.

Burton said people have already expressed interest in participating.

“People often ask for our help as a department, and we’ve staged workshops before. But this is our first time doing an ongoing effort,” she said.

Click here to make a donation to the Arts Match Fund to support the project.

Niki King
Niki King Jones is positive she has the best job at the University of Louisville, serving the communication needs of the departments of fine arts and theatre, the School of Music, University Libraries and Alumni – all the fun, creative stuff. Before coming to UofL in 2015, Niki held communication positions in both private and nonprofit sectors in Louisville, Ky., including at Heaven Hill Distilleries and the Jewish Community of Louisville. For 10 years prior, she was a reporter at various newspapers across the country, most recently The Courier-Journal. Niki graduated from the University of Memphis with a BA in journalism and has a masters degree in community and leadership development from the University of Kentucky.