Mckennzie boyd 


    A young mother, her son and her daughter share their experience of living on the southside of Chicago, where guns don't discriminate based on how young or old you are but it's the color of your skin that can change which way the gun faces.

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    "Till the courtroom becomes their center stage
    Where their crocodile tears will keep them from the cage"


    McKennzie Boyd 

    Southside Summer

    Playwright's Bio

    McKennzie Boyd (she/her) was a generally shy kid from Chicago before she discovered writing poetry as a way for her to speak up about what she was experiencing. From there McKennzie has realized how vital the arts are to expressing serious topics and reaching many groups of people. Since the 6th grade, McKennzie has been a part of the Viola Project, a program that teaches non-men an alternate way to feminize Shakespearean text in order to bend or break ancient gender roles. She has also acted at various theatres in the Chicagoland area including with the City Lit Acting Company where she did THE VOICE OF GOOD HOPE, a play about Barbra Jordan, the first Black woman elected to the House of Representatives who paved ways for Black people to represent themselves and their communities, while challenging segregation and the political climate. McKennzie has managed different plays at her school and organized the assemblies and classes related to Black history month. She’s begun to adapt some of her poems into plays. Currently McKennzie is a part of Steppenwolf’s Young Adult Council and fights to challenge the silence that confines Black and LGBTQ+ voices.


    When did you start writing? What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?

    I was a generally shy kid and I came to find that the way for me to speak up about what I was experiencing was by writing poetry. From there I realized how vital the arts are to expressing serious topics and reaching many groups of people. Now, at the age of 16, I write plays as adaptations of my poems and the main goal is to use my art to bring awareness to real-world issues and challenge the silence that confines this generation. I would see people like Tyler Perry, Viola Davis, and so many others defying the standards and achieving awards or recognition. Also, my counsler from middle school, Dr. Dickinson, told me I could always talk to him if I needed. He would listen to the things I experienced and could empathize because he's gone through the same. He has never pushed me away and often times would offer the chance to write down how I felt. I shared my first poem with him and even though I look back and cringe at it now, I remember tears welling in his eys and he said, "You have a gift that cannot be found or wasted."

    How did you come to write your #ENOUGH play? Given that there are many dimensions to the issue of gun violence, what aspect did you focus on and why?

    I live on the southside of Chicago which is notorious for gun and gang violence. I would see the kids around me and they'd normalized things such as gunshots or police sirens when they were asleep. Often times, they don’t ever get a chance to talk abut what they experience and even more difficult to find someone who is willing to help them tell their story. I wrote my play to give the mic to those who didn't get a chance to say how angry or sad or scared they were. I wrote a poem about gun violence that was changed into the play I presented to highlight specifically how guns don't discriminate, no matter how young or old you are, but the color of your skin can change which way the gun faces.

    If you could write a play or story that represented the future you want to be a part of, what would it look like?

    It would be one where people wouldn't have to be scared to speak up when something isn't right. I've had to explain gun violence and racism to kids half my age or younger and they don’t deserve that. I want them to be able to grow up and be kids and play, not teach them how the world views them and hoping it won't affect how they see themselves. They deserve the childhood I couldn't have.

    What are some of your favorite plays?

    Some of my favorite plays are Hamilton, Beetlejuice, Bug, King Hedley II, among others.

    What will your next play be about?

    A prelude to Southside Summer. More on the relationship between Joy and Terrell, along with the childhood of Eva and Emmanuel.

    What do you want to see done about gun violence right now?

    Don’t act like it doesnt exist or doesnt affect all of us. As a Black person, I want to explain that my melanin is not a weapon and to remove the stigma in the Black community.

    Get to Know McKennzie

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    The writing in this play is so strong and, at moments, extraordinary. This is a writer with a singular and compelling voice. The play has a formal scope and ambition.

    naomi iizuka
    Playwright & #ENOUGH panelist

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