About Lorene Cary

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Just signed: a Portland (OR) Opera commission with composer Damien Geter. Connecting the heroic story of the original Fisk University Jubilee Singers with their current, Grammy-winning descendants, this libretto investigates Black legacy, love, death, trauma,  and joy.

 

In revision: Ladysitting, a theatrical commission with Arden Theatre, Philadelphia, based on my memoir.

 

My General Tubman, premiered January 2020 at Arden Theatre in Philadelphia and featured as a virtual reading in the NJ Theatre Alliance 2021 Stages Festival. Tubman shows up in a Philadelphia prison to find men to fight with her in the Civil War. One of them decides to go back in time to marry her. Playing to sold-out houses, including high-school matinees, the play was twice extended, finally shut down in March by COVID.

 

Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century, published by W.W. Norton Books, in 2019,  is also available as an audiobook recording. Five generations of family love and rupture aim my grandmother and our family toward caretaking her final year. Paperback: July 2020.

 

For the American Lyric Theater’s Composer & Librettist Development Program, I wrote a one-act opera libretto that takes off from Ladysitting. Composer Liliya Ugay set a lyrical score titled The Gospel According to Nana.  

 

Non-fiction includes my best-selling memoir Black Ice, Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century, a collection of stories for young readers, Free! Great Escapes from Slavery on the Underground Railroad,  magazine articles and blogs.  Novels include The Price of a Child, chosen as the first  One Book One Philadelphia and the upcoming One Book One Norristown;  Pride; and If Sons, Then Heirs.  

 

My scripts for videos at The President's House exhibit on Independence Mall in Philadelphia show the lives of nine enslaved Africans who worked in the House next to where the Liberty Bell is now displayed.

 

For 25 years I have taught fiction and non-fiction at UPenn. In 2018, I created #VotethatJawn to let my students write blogs, social media, and articles to bring Philly youth to the polls. Their 2020 contributions were phenomenal.  

 

More civic engagement:  Art Sanctuary, founded  in 1998 to enrich urban Philadelphia with the excellence of Black art; Union Benevolent Association, member and president; and, from 2011-2013, and as a member of Philadelphia's School Reform Commission, and chair of the Safety Committee, eliminating zero-tolerance punishments for kids. 

 

Honors include: UPenn’s Provost's Award for Distinguished Teaching, The Philadelphia Award, and honorary doctorates from Swarthmore, Muhlenberg, Colby, and Keene State Colleges, and Arcadia and Gwynedd Mercy Universities.

News, Reviews, and Interviews

  • Reality Check Podcasts with Charles Ellison: Listen Here

  • June 4, 2020, Honored by St. James School, Philadelphia. The video tribute is so precious to me!

Videos