Katori Hall (born May 10, 1981) is an American activist, playwright, journalist, and actress from Memphis, Tennessee. Hall's best known work include Hurt Village, Our Lady of Kibeho, Children of Killers, and The Mountaintop.
Hall graduated from Columbia University in 2003 with a major in African-American Studies and Creative Writing. She was awarded top departmental honors from the university's Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS). In 2005, she graduated from the American Repertory Theater's Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University with a Master of Fine Arts in Acting, and graduated from the Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace playwriting program in 2009.
Her play The Mountaintop, about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last night before his assassination, premiered in London in 2009 to great critical acclaim. After a sell-out run at Theatre503, the play transferred to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End. The production was directed by James Dacre and featured British actors David Harewood and Lorraine Burroughs. Harewood was nominated for Best Actor in the Evening Standard and WhatsOnStage Awards and Burroughs for Best Actress in the Olivier Awards. The production was also nominated for Best New Play in the Olivier and WhatsOnStage Awards and Most Promising Playwright in the Evening Standard Awards. The play won the Olivier award for Best New Play in March 2010, making Hall the first black woman to achieve this accolade. The Independent reviewer called The Mountaintop "breathtaking". Theater critic Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph gave the production five stars and hailed it a "triumph". In September 2011, The Mountaintop opened on Broadway starring Samuel L. Jackson as Martin Luther King and Angela Bassett as a mysterious maid. It attracted both praise and controversy. In January 2011 during the extension of the show, lead producers Jean Doumanian and Sonia Friedman announced that The Mountaintop had recouped its entire capitalization of $3.1 million. Through her play,
Other plays by Hall include Hoodoo Love, which was produced Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City, Remembrance, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, WHADDABLOODCLOT!!!!, and Pussy Valley.
In October 2011, Hall, along with Annie Baker, Will Eno, Kenneth Lonergan and Regina Taylor, was among the playwrights chosen for the Pershing Square Signature Theatre new Residency Five initiative in New York. Residency Five makes the writers resident playwrights with the company and guarantees each of them three full world-premiere productions over a five-year residency.
Hall's play Hurt Village, the gritty drama about life and change in a Memphis housing project, made its world-premiere at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company as part of the theatre's inaugural season. The play, which won the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Award, was presented with support from the 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award from TCG. The play starred Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins, as well as Marsha Stephanie Blake, Ron Cephas Jones, Saycon Sengbloh, Lloyd Watts, Charlie Hudson III, Nicholas Christopher, Corey Hawkins, Ron Cephas Jones and Joaquina Kalukango.
Hall will make her feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of her own play, Hurt Village.
In November 2014, Our Lady of Kibeho, the second play of Hall's residency at the Pershing Square Signature Theatre, had its world premiere in The Irene Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center, directed by Michael Greif. In Our Lady of Kibeho, Hall tells the story of a real-life incident of 1981, when a group of Rwandan schoolgirls claimed to see a vision of the Virgin Mary.
Hall has very strong political views. As both an activist and spokesperson, race and ethnicity are often present in her work. Through her writing, she is trying to represent the African America community and strives to bring social changes.
Her awards include a Laurence Olivier Award Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Lark Play Development Center Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellowship, Kate Neal Kinley Fellowship, two Lecompte du Nouy Prizes from Lincoln Center, Fellowship of Southern Writers Bryan Family Award in Drama, Fellowship, and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award. Hall was shortlisted for the London Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award and received the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award from the William Inge Theatre Festival. She is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. In 1999, Hall graduated from Craigmont High School (Memphis, TN) as the first African-American valedictorian.
Hall has been a book reviewer, journalist, and essayist for publications such as The Boston Globe, Essence, Newsweek and The New York Times. She has been a Kennedy Center Playwriting Fellow at the O’Neill.