One Powerful Voice: Cori Thomas on Playwrighting, Serving Others, & Outing Sexual Misconduct
Cori Thomas began her creative journey wanting to act but alas the timing was wrong for multiracial actors, who “didn’t look like any particular race,” and she soon got very frustrated. In a serendipitous encounter someone suggested she “write roles she could play” and soon after a voice popped in her head talking - and then another - and then they were having a conversation and she was writing it all down and she discovered she was becoming a playwright.
Her immigrant experience of living in many different countries (her father was a Liberian diplomat) has given her a keen ear for the voice of “the other” and one of her underlying missions in writing is “trying to get the audience to see that the other is not so other.” Her advice to beginning playwrights is “write from an organic place, ask yourself, what do you want to express, and then do it! Fall down and get up and keep working!”
She also discusses her (now public) sexual harassment encounter with Dustin Hoffman when she was 16 - inviting us to understand how, over the arch of time, that experience has moved and shaped itself in her, culminating in her decision to become public, a brave choice that grew out of wanting to help the other women who had similar encounters.
Meet This Episode's Guest
Cori Thomas is a playwright whose plays have been developed and produced at Sundance Theater Lab, Goodman Theatre, City Theatre Company (Pittsburgh), Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Women’s Project Theater, Page 73 Productions,, Playwrights Horizons, Lark Play Development Center, The Working Theater, Going To The River, Pillsbury House Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Passage Theatre, The Playwrights Realm, New Federal Theatre, New Georges, The Black Rep (St. Louis), The New Black Fest, and Queens Theatre in the Park.
She is also a co-founder of Pa's Hat Foundation, a charity dedicated to enabling former male child soldiers and other underserved males of Liberia success in life by providing access to education and job opportunities.