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Lisa Marie Rollins’s $7,500 Grant Further Develops Groundbreaking Play

Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing Lisa Marie Rollins has been awarded a $7,500 grant from the Zellerbach Family Foundation to support the continued development of her new play, “Love Is Another Country,” which follows three women as they navigate living in a country that claims to love Black women. That country would be the United States of America.

Rollins, a member of Colorado College’s Theatre and Dance Department, is conducting a four-day workshop  designed to further the development of the script and explore the ancestral aspects of the play. The December workshop, held in collaboration with the Colorado College Fine Arts Center, is supported by the Zellerbach grant, as well as by the Crown Faculty Center through its Manuscript Workshop initiative.

“Love Is Another Country” focuses on three members of the Chapman family — two sisters and their great-grandmother. “It features an ensemble of diasporic Black women who bring to life this story about all the forms of violence against these Black women that they must learn how to navigate, and it holds space for the hard work of their collective healing,” says Rollins.

The workshop’s goals are many: “We'll be spending time working on the script itself, to advance the play to the next stage. But more importantly for me and the women joining the process at this moment, having some play and devising time to dig deeper into conversations around Black women and embodied power, intergenerational/ancestral memory, and carving liberatory space around rest, ease, and celebration is the main focus,” Rollins says.

In addition to conducting the workshop, Rollins also is moderating a panel discussion titled “In Process: A Conversation with Playwright, Director and Co-creators of ‘Love is Another Country’” from 2-3:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 3, in the Cornerstone Screening Room in the Cornerstone Arts Center. The panel features the play’s director, Ellen Sebastion Chang; and co-creators /actors Celia Mandala Rivera, Tyree Marshall, DeeDee Stephens, Jasmine Williams, and Sheree V Campbell. They will share from their work in rehearsals, invite questions about the writing and creating process of the play, and share from their lives as Black women theatre-makers in the current climate.

“The play originally began for me and the co-creators as a creative investigation into the question of what happens to Black communities when Black men are systemically removed by murder or imprisonment and police terror, the question of who is left behind, and what does that lived experience look like,” says Rollins. “It also began as an experiment to find a language to conjure safe spaces for self-determination beyond that survival and mourning for Black women.”

Where does the play go from here?

At this moment, the play is a living and breathing piece of work,” says Rollins, of the writing that began in early 2018. “I’m interested in seeing the stories and character story lines inside the play reaching some kind of completion, but as many writers will say, sometimes poems or plays constantly get revised each time they are brought to the stage or spoken out loud. So even if they are ‘done,’ they still might change and evolve.

“I’m so appreciative of the Zellerbach Family Foundation who believe in process-oriented work time for artists, rather than product-oriented funding,” Rollins says.

“Love Is Another Country” originally was directed by Kendall Johnson and created as a devised piece in collaboration between playwright Rollins, Coin & Ghost Theatre in Los Angeles, and the actors/creators Ukamaka Izuchi, Rivera, Stephens, and Marshall.

It received many accolades following its February 2019 premiere in Los Angeles. Among them was praise for playwright Rollins, with Stage Raw, a digital journal focusing on L.A.-based arts and culture, saying, “Rollins pulls no punches with her dialogue…emphatic and poignant.”

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/13/2021