PCC Instructor, Playwright Nominated for NAACP Theatre Award

Black news from Pasadena - Community - Gabrielle Pina nominatedGabrielle Pina, an award-­winning novelist and longtime adjunct instructor of English at Pasadena City College, has been nominated for a 2014 NAACP Theatre Award in the Best Playwright category.

Pina received the accolade for Letters From Zora: In Her Own Words, a play inspired by the works of folklorist and author Zora Neale Hurston.

"It's a wonderful honor and I appreciate it very much," said Pina, who has taught at the college for 15 years. Featuring original music and archival images, Letters From Zora explores Hurston's controversial views on integration, segregation, and social justice. Often called the most prolific African-American woman writer of her time, Hurston was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance era of the 1920s.

"Letters From Zora is an authentic, multi-­sensory experience of an extraordinary woman who defied the social conventions of the day and lived a life of her own creation," Pina said. "The artistic fusion of music, history, and literary prose illuminates the resilience of the human spirit as well as Ms. Hurston's philosophy of life and literature in her own words."

The play was Pina's first she ever wrote. Her second, Dreaming Of Harlem Under A High Southern Sky, tells the story of three women who grew up on a plantation outside of New Orleans and migrated to Harlem at the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance. It premieres on March 28, 2015 at the University of Southern California's Bovard Auditorium.

In addition to her budding career as a playwright, Pina is an author of two novels, Bliss and Chasing Sophea. She is currently penning her third, which has the working title A Season For Hummingbirds.

In 2002, Pina won the Pacificus Foundation Literary Prize for Achievement in Short Fiction.

"Gabrielle is a talented teacher and writer, whose writing career I have followed for many years," said Amy Ulmer, dean of the PCC School of Humanities and Social Sciences. "I am so proud of her latest accomplishment."

Letters From Zora recently completed a run at The Pasadena Playhouse with actress Vanessa Bell Calloway as the sole cast member. Calloway was also nominated for a NAACP Theatre Award in the Best Lead Female category. The play continues its run Oct. 9 through 26 at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, N.J.

Winners of the 24th Annual NAACP Theatre Awards will be announced on November 17 at an evening gala held at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, California.

"Letters From Zora is a terrific play, and it is so exciting that Gabrielle has been honored for her work with a nomination as best playwright from the NAACP," Ulmer said. "I hope she wins and the play heads to Broadway!"

Pasadena City College is a state-supported, fully accredited, two-year community college with more than 28,000 students. It is located in Pasadena, Calif., and serves primarily the West San Gabriel Valley area. PCC offers a high-quality education with an extensive range of general education, transfer, certificate, and associate degree programs. With more than 60 academic and 70 Career Technical Education programs – as well as Continuing Education, Extending Learning fee programs, and the Community Education Center – PCC can meet a variety of educational needs. Visit www.pasadena.edu for more information.



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