Elmo Terry-Morgan

Artistic Director of Rites & Reason Theatre, Associate Professor, Department of Africana Studies, and Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies
E-mail: [email protected] 

Elmo Terry-MorganElmo Terry-MorganElmo Terry-Morgan (MFA, University of California-San Diego, 1978) is Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Theatre Arts and Performance Studies; and Artistic Director of Rites and Reason Theatre He is also on the faculty of the new Brown/Trinity Repertory Graduate Program in Theater Arts. Terry-Morgan's areas of specialization are African-American Theatre, Black LGBTQ Theatre, African-American Folk Traditions and Cultural Expressions, and Playwriting. He has served as managing editor for the Black Theatre Network News. Before coming to Brown Professor Terry-Morgan was a long time associate director and playwright at the National Black Theatre of Harlem, NY.  He also served as writer and director of the AUDELCO Awards show, the Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black Theatre, NYC, from 1988–1999.

His plays have been produced in theatre and television venues across the United States and in Japan. His major works include:Miss Morning, the adaptation of The Legacy: Memories of the Gospel SongThe Washingtons: A Freedom UnknownProfiles and Shadows, and Heart-to-Heart: Ain’t Your Life Worth Saving?; and,the musicals Song of Sheba, Ophelia’s Cotillion, and Hot Comb.Most recently, he wrote major adaptations of Ama Ata Aidoo’s play,Anowa in 2007, and the Civil Rights Era novel, Freshwater Road, with author Denise Nicholas in 2008.  He co-directed both productions at Rites and Reason Theatre.  A great deal of his work is also devoted to the dramaturgical development of new plays within Rites and Reason’s Research-to-Performance Method (RPM).

His works have been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, National Alliance for Musical Theatre, LifeSpan Hospitals, National Institutes of Health and Brown University.

His other on-going research focuses on the development of a Black Gay and Lesbian Theatre. His course, Black Lavender, was jointly designed by Brown students in an Odyssey Seminar, sponsored by a grant from the Office of the Dean of the College, and continues to receive significant student research input and support from colleagues in the nation. In April 2009, the Department of Africana Studies’ Rites and Reason Theatre sponsored the Black Lavender ExperienceTheatre and Conversations Sparked by the Work of Queer Playwrights.

Terry-Morgan’s students have also distinguished themselves as nationally recognized scholars, having garnered 23 S. Randolph Edmonds Young Scholars Competition Awards, sponsored by the Black Theatre Network; and 2 National Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History Awards.

Selected Honors and Awards:

  • Mellon Mays Advising and Mentoring Award, 2006
  • Selection Committee: Karen T. Romer Award
  • Inman Page Black Alumni Council Award
  • Karen T. Romer Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring, 2005
  • Recipient: Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Outstanding Mentor Book Research Award, 2004
  • Recipient: Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Outstanding Mentor Book Research Award, 2002
  • Rites and Reason is recipient of the Special Service Award from the American Heart Association/Rhode Island Affiliate, November, 2000
  • Award for Excellence in Teaching by ONYX Society of Black Graduating Seniors, 1999
  • 5 AUDELCO Awards for The Fruits of Miss Morning, including Outstanding Dramatic Production of the Year. Personal Awards: Outstanding Director of a Drama, Outstanding Playwright
  • 8 AUDELCO Awards for Song of Sheba including Outstanding Musical Production of the Year. Personal awards: Outstanding Director of a Musical, Outstanding Musical Creator, 1989.
  • Award for Excellence in Teaching for Recognition of Innovation in Teaching presented by ONYX Society of Black Graduating Seniors, 1998
  • Academic Advising Award presented by The Undergraduate Council of Students, Brown University, 1998: 1997/98
  • Rites and Reason Theatre is recipient of the Jabez Gorham Award for Arts Excellence by the Business Volunteers for the Arts ‑ Rhode Island.
  • National Achievement Audelco Award given to Rites and Reason for Artistic Excellence and Institutional Longevity.  Only two other theatres were singled out for this honor: Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia and The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, 1994
  • American Legion Award (Colonel Charles Young Post, Harlem, NY) for Community Service, 1992
  • Best of Fest Award: First Annual San Diego Actors Festival for The Washingtons: A Freedom Unknown, 1991 

Selected Publications:


  • Perishable Theatre, Providence, RE Critical essay, "Behind the Frangipani Door". an analysis of The Frangipani Doorby Nehassaiu deGannes was published in Perishable Theatre's anthology, Women PlayWrights Festival 2001.
  • "Call and Response: The Making of the African Grove Institute for the Arts", centerpiece article, in Black Theatre's Unprecedented Times (with special introduction by August Wilson), Black Theatre Network News 1999
  • "NOISE/FUNK: Fo' Real Black Theatre on Broadway", an analysis of George C. Wolfe's Broadway musical, Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk. In AfroAmerican Reviewspecial edition on African American Theatre, publication January, 1998.
  • "Backstage at the AUDELCO Awards: Vivian Robinson's Eternal Spirit", and "It's Tithing Time" Black Theatre News,vol. 8, no. 2, Winter, 1998.  

Courses Taught:

  • Introduction to Playwriting
  • Voices Beneath the Veil: African-American Plays from 1858 to the Present
  • African-American Folk Traditions and Cultural Expressions
  • Black Lavender: Plays with Black LGBTQ Content
  • Introduction to Africana Studies
  • Research-to-Performance Method Playwriting

Elmo Terry-Morgan's Brown University Research Profile