Mark Clayton Southers is an award-winning playwright, photographer, scenic designer, theatrical producer and stage director.
Mark and his family reside in Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District. He is the founder and producing artistic director of the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company where he has produced over 140 full-length and one-act plays, including August Wilson’s complete ten-play Pittsburgh Century Cycle. Mr. Southers is a published poet and playwright as well. His play Ma Noah was the recipient of the 2004 Theodore Ward prize at Columbia College, Chicago. His poem play Angry Black Man Poetry had a successful run at Teatr Śląski in Katowice, Poland in 2009.
Some of his favorite directing credits include Paul Robeson for the Griot Ensemble Theatre Company; Pill Hill and Freeman for New Horizon Theatre; Almost Maine for South Park Theatre; the August in February Series for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust; Dutchman for Bricolage Production Company; Angry Black Man Poetry for Teatr Śląski; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, and Radio Golf for American Stage Theatre in St. Petersburg, Florida; Gem of the Ocean for Human Race Theatre in Dayton, Ohio (named best director by the Dayton Metro News); Passing Strange for North Short Stage in Columbus, Ohio; Papa Doc and Paul Robeson for Trilogy: An Opera Company in Newark, New Jersey; The Sty of the Blind Pig for The Banyan Theatre Company in Sarasota, Florida; and Dorothy Six, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running (one of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s top ten plays of the decade), Seven Guitars, VALU-MART, Jitney (voted one of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s top ten best plays of 2010, it broke all house attendance records at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre), and Gem of the Ocean for the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company. He is a four-time recipient of the AACTA Onyx award for Best Director.
After Mark attended a master class in playwriting conducted by August Wilson at the Grahamstown Arts Festival in South Africa, he attended the Edward Albee Theatre Festival later that summer in Valdez, Alaska where he did seated readings with Mr. Wilson of all of Wilson’s plays. These encounters encouraged Mark to take up playwriting and devote more time to theatre arts. In 2003, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company was born, producing Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson, which received critical acclaim and high praise from the playwright himself. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company has continued to grow and thrive, moving to the Cultural District in 2005.
From 2010 to 2013, Mr. Southers served as the Artistic Director of Theatre Initiatives for the 486-seat August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. During his tenure, he began a monthly August Wilson Reading Round Table, which featured plays from Pulitzer Prize-winning Pittsburgh native August Wilson, along with works by new up-and-coming playwrights. Readers included local actors and celebrities and occasionally, nationally renowned actors.