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Welcome to the Official Site of
Award-Winning Playwright

CELESTE BEDFORD WALKER

Black Spectrum Theatre's recent interview with Celeste:

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How Houston playwright Celeste Bedford Walker uses the Bayou City as a stage for historical drama

Award-winning Houston playwright wrote 'Camp Logan' more than three decades ago. Her work often deals with difficult history.

By Andrew Dansby

Dec 8, 2023

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Playwright Celeste Bedford Walker poses for a portrait in Memorial Park on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, in Houston. Last year, Walker was awarded the Texas Institute of Letters Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement.

For nearly a century, flora has grown over the site of what once was Camp Logan

The military training camp was shut down in 1919, two years after a protest march by Black soldiers collided violently with a white mob, resulting in 17 deaths. A court-martial brought about more than 100 mutiny convictions for the soldiers and another 19 deaths, these by execution. Memorial Park was developed over the site in 1924.

“I feel like there should be something more, something bigger to denote what happened here,” she says. “That little old marker, I’ve been here and seen it before. And today, I still drove right past it.” 

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Camp Logan, the Army, and America's conscience (Opinion)

 

After more than 100 years, justice was done

By Celeste Bedford Walker

Dec 1, 2023

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On Nov. 13, at a Buffalo Soldiers Museum event recognizing the legacy of Camp Logan's Black soldiers, a man dressed as a Buffalo Soldier salutes during the national anthem. 

On Nov. 13, the Army overturned the 1917 convictions of Black soldiers convicted of mutiny in Houston. I was overjoyed: After more than 100 years, this miscarriage of justice had finally been corrected.

After the U.S. entered World War I, the all-Black 24th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the well-known Buffalo Soldiers, was dispatched to Houston, a city where Jim Crow laws were in effect. The 156 soldiers were ordered to guard the construction of Camp Logan, a training base located in what’s now Memorial Park. Houston’s white citizens — including police — were hostile.

On Aug. 23, 1917, a little more than a month after the 24th arrived, during a police raid on a craps game in downtown Houston, one soldier stood up for a Black woman he believed police were abusing. He was arrested. After a respected corporal went to talk with police about the matter, he was pistol-whipped, arrested and beaten.

Current and Upcoming
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Introducing "Sassy Mamas and Other Plays"
A collection of 5 of Celeste's top plays!

"Sassy Mamas and Other Plays"

By Celeste Bedford Walker

Foreword by EILEEN J. MORRIS

Introduction by Sandra M. Mayo

Celeste Bedford Walker, one of the most accomplished contemporary playwrights in Texas, crafts dramas from history and everyday life that illuminate the African American experience in all its variety, tragedy, pathos, and hilarity. The topics treated by Walker are timelier than ever. Collected here are five of her most acclaimed plays: Sassy Mamas, Greenwood: An American Dream Destroyed, Reunion in Bartersville, Distant Voices, and Camp Logan. Wittliff Collections Literary Series.

Awards

AWARDS

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Celeste Bedford Walker

Fellow: Awarded 2023

Field of Study: Drama and Performance Art

A prolific and oft-awarded playwright, Celeste Bedford Walker has recently enjoyed particular renown for her great work. In 2022 she became the first African American writer to win the highest literary honor in Texas, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. 

Guggenheim Fellow 2023 Award

for

"Drama and Performance Art"

From Guggenheim site:

On April 5, 2023, the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved the awarding of Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of 171 exceptional individuals. Chosen from a rigorous application and peer review process out of almost 2,500 applicants, these successful applicants were appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

“The new class of Fellows has followed their calling to enhance all of our lives, to provide greater human knowledge and deeper understanding. We’re lucky to look to them to bring us into the future.” 

— Edward Hirsch, President of the Guggenheim Foundation

Right before the award and "Sassy Mamas and Other Plays," Celeste had an interview with "Black Masks."

Click below to read it all!

Celeste Bedford Walker: Feminist and Historical Dramatist  
by Sandra M. Mayo 

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2022

Lon Tinkle Award

for Lifetime Achievement

 

Winner:

Celeste Bedford Walker!

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2019 AUDELCO AWARD

Best Revival of a Play 

Reunion in Bartersville

(Hilarious Murder Mystery)

performed by Black Spectrum Theatre Co.

TIL Lifetime Achievement Award

Author Celeste Bedford Walker has been named the winner of the Texas Institute of Letters’ prestigious Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. This is the highest honor given by the TIL, which was established in 1936 to recognize distinctive literary achievement. 

 

“Celeste Bedford Walker has been at the forefront of literary Texas for years, and her expertly crafted plays combine surprising drama, sharp and incisive dialogue, and the revelation of opening a new world for fans of the theatre.”

— TIL President Sergio Troncoso

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Celeste Walker accepting Lifetime Achievement Award at the Texas Institute of Letters

April 23, 2022

El Paso, Texas

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Plays and Reviews

PRODUCTIONS / EVENTS

"A Star Without a Star: The untold story of Juanita Moore"

Written by: Celeste B. Walker, Kirk E. Kelleykahn, and J.W. Nutting

Directed by:  Kirk E. Kelleykahn

Winner! Best Documentary Feature 
18th Montreal International Black Film Festival (MIBFF)

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REVIEWS

"Great actors, great story-line, and great execution."

- Vickie Evans, Broadway World

Full Review

(Reunion in Bartersville)

"The quintessential National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) experience was Celeste Bedford Walker’s “Reunion in Bartersville.”

 

A jam-packed house was whooping with laughter, me included."

- Christopher Rawson, 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Full Review

(Reunion in Bartersville)

Roy Berko, BWW Review

From the first laugh, which hit about two lines into the show, until the screaming standing ovation ending, the ladies and the cast were part of a love/laugh in.

(Sassy Mamas)

Mark Horning, TALKIN' BROADWAY

Sassy Mamas manages to turn the older-pursuing-younger concept right on its head in hilarious fashion (and quite fashionably). The acting is tight and on cue and the comedy is on point. It sparkles!

(Sassy Mamas)

Christine Howey, CleveScene

A tight and enjoyable ride, augmented by a classy scenic design and drop-dead gorgeous costumes... keeping the dialogue crisp and the laughs plentiful.

(Sassy Mamas)

Sassy Mamas

Sassy Mamas

It's steamy. It's sexy. It's Sassy Mamas!" — BBMedia TV

Camp Logan

Camp Logan

Although “Camp Logan” is written by a woman, I have never seen a truer evocation of the trials and tribulations that mark the struggle to live as a dignified black man in America." — Playthell Benjamin, N.Y. Daily

Sassy Mamas

Sassy Mamas

"Lovable...broad appeal." — Houston Chronicle

Sassy Mamas

Sassy Mamas

"Delivers passion and glee . . . a cross between 'Sex & The City' and 'How Stella Got Her Groove Back!' " — Broadway World

Camp Logan

Camp Logan

"Captivating, riveting, joyful, comical, and devastatingly real!" — Kaylene Peoples, Agenda Magazine

Black Wall Street

Black Wall Street

"She skillfully chronicles the final days and hours of these Greenwood citizens, weaving narratives on familial relationships, financial freedom, civic loyalty, blossoming romance, and the looming jealousy and unleashed terrorism by White Tulsa citizens. — Lynette Braxton, Downstage Pass

Sassy Mamas

Sassy Mamas

"Brings audiences to their feet and rolling in the aisles!" — Houstonia

Sassy Mamas Interview

Sassy Mamas Interview

Interview with Celeste Walker CLICK FOR FULL INTERVIEW

Sassy Mamas WINS!!

Sassy Mamas WINS!!

Best PLAY and Best DIRECTOR! — BroadwayWorld Regional Awards

Once in a Wifetime

Once in a Wifetime

“Once in a Wife Time” is unquestionably good theater. The audience found the show hilarious." — Michael Frym, Variety Magazine

BOOK a STAGE PLAY

Send an email to celestebwalker@aol.com to book one of the plays below. Please include the name of the play you want to book in the subject line of your email.

Bookings

GREENWOOD: An American Dream Destroyed

Greenwood: An American Dream Destroyed tells the powerful story of the tragedy that took place on May 31, 1921 in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, OK from the perspective of three generations of the Boley family, a representative composite of an African-American family that may have lived during that tragic and tumultuous time.

Email Celeste at celestebwalker@AOL.com to book GREENWOOD, or click the button below.

Sassy Mamas

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Three sophisticated and successful women find themselves living single and ready to mingle…but this time with much (much) younger men. 

 

This fun, feisty romantic comedy explores the dynamics between the sexes, and highlights when a woman knows what she wants…she knows how to get it.

Email Celeste at celestebwalker@AOL.com to book SASSY MAMAS, or click the button below.

Popular Plays by Celeste

Continue scrolling to see more plays available for booking.

Camp Logan

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An entertaining and compelling story of six black U.S. soldiers and the incidents leading up to the tragic 1917 racially-charged riot at their Camp Logan base in Houston Texas during World War l.

 

Walker’s nuanced, suspenseful dramatization details the buildup to the riot that left dozens dead, including 17 African American soldiers hanged for mutiny. 

Sassy Mamas

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Three sophisticated and successful women find themselves living single and ready to mingle…but this time with much (much) younger men. 

 

This fun, feisty romantic comedy explores the dynamics between the sexes, and highlights when a woman knows what she wants…she knows how to get it.

Reunion in Bartersville

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Bartersville High is having its 50th reunion at Janie Mae’s house. All of the guests have arrived, ready for an evening of gaiety.

 

But…they’re in for a heart-stopping surprise when an unexpected guest arrives and turns their party into an evening of hilarious suspense.

A thrilling comedy mystery.

Repertoire of Work

Stage Plays

Black Spurs

Greenwood, An American Dream Destroyed

Shared Secrets (Adaptation)

The Eddie Thomas Story

Memoirs of a Would Be Black Militant

I, Barbara Jordon

Sassy Mamas

Sassafras Girls

Harlem After Hours

The Red Blood of War

Piccolo Sergeant

Distant Voices

Praise the Lord, and Raise the Roof

Noble Lofton, Buffalo Soldier

Brothers, Sisters, Husbands and Wives

Over Forty

Camp Logan

Reunion in Bartersville

Adam and Eve, Revisited

The Wreckin’ Ball

Once in a Wife Time

Screen Plays

Barbara Jordan Documentary (Writer, Project Mgr.)

Juanita Moore Documentary (Writer)

The Butterfly Girls (Writer, interactive web game)

Sam Cooke Story (Story Editor)

Reunion in Bartersville Pilot (Treatment)

Men of Bronze (Dialogue Polish)

Camp Logan(Screenplay)

The Boule (Writer, Video)

Medipaid Girls (Writer, Feature film)

Community Kitchen (Writer, Video)

Publications /Articles 

Texas Playwrights Anthology (University TX Press)

Texas Women Writers (TX A&M Press)

Black Texas Women: 150 Years of Trials & Triumphs

New York Times Theater Review

Theater Yearbook: The Complete Broadway and Off-Broadway Sourcebook

Theater World

Women in Theatre (Wrote article)

Works

About Celeste

Celeste Bedford Walker’s award-winning canon includes over forty plays, videos, documentaries, and films that have been performed and viewed in major venues across the country. She has received numerous commissions to write dramas, comedies, and musicals for theaters, schools, museums, and organizations. 

 

Recognized by the U.S. Congress for her historical contribution as producer and author of works that bring to light lost stories of African American history, Walker has received several honors and awards in theatre.

Awards include the 2023 Guggenheim Fellows; finalist in the international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for outstanding work by a female playwright; the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Theatre Awards for Best Playwright and Best Play for positive portrayal of Blacks in the media; the National Black Theatre's August Wilson Playwriting Award for significant contributions to Black and American Theatre; finalist in 38th Annual Samuel French OOB Short Play Festival; the Houston Ensemble Theatre's Salute to Texas Playwrights; New York's AUDELCO nominations and awards; the Memphis Tennessee's Gyneka Award, and others.

 

Celeste was commissioned to write a play as part of the BOLD Theater Women's Leadership Circle grant under the leadership of Ensemble Theatre's artistic director Eileen Morris. Her historical drama, "The Red Blood of War," was selected to participate in the 39th Annual Wm. Inge Theatre Festival New Play Lab in Independence, Kansas. But due to COVID-19, it was postponed to spring 2021.

 

Walker's work is also featured in the anthology "Acting Up and Getting Down," published by the University of Texas Press, and "Sassy Mamas and Other Plays," published by Texas A&M University Press. 

A proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Mrs. Walker is also a council member of the Texas Institute of Letters, a distinguished honor society founded in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature and recognize distinctive literary achievements. Plus, Celeste is a member of Honor Roll!, an advocacy and action group of playwrights over forty and their allies whose goal is their inclusion in the theater. 

Her plays, universal in theme, come out of the Black experience, embracing the sacred and the mundane, the serious and the comic, with an awesome delight in the wisdom and the witlessness of the human condition.   

Mountaintop Productions

Celeste’s production company, Mountaintop Productions, has produced and co-produced several of her plays, including “Camp Logan” (The Kennedy Center, Wash. D.C.), “The Red Blood of War” (The Samuel French OOB Festival, NY), “Praise the Lord and Raise the Roof,” (The 1996 Olympic Arts Festival, Atlanta, GA), “Brothers, Sisters, Husbands and Wives,” (Houston Music Hall), “Once in a Wife Time” (Tower Theater, Houston, TX), and “Reunion in Bartersville,” (Lafayette, LA).

Mountaintop Productions

Celeste Walker, Founder/CEO

Sage Edwards, Managing Producer

Bio

CONTACT CELESTE

Email: celestebwalker@aol.com

Phone: 713-649-2574  

Image by Solen Feyissa

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