Celebrating its 21st anniversary, the Robert S. Duncanson Society is pleased to introduce this year’s Duncanson Artist-in-Residence, playwright and screenwriter Keith Josef Adkins. Born in Cincinnati, Adkins earned his bachelor of arts in communications from Wright State University and his master of fine arts from the University of Iowa’s prestigious Iowa Playwrights Workshop.
Adkins has had plays produced in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cleveland. Recently, the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theater of Atlanta honored him with its first August Wilson Memorial Award, which celebrates Wilson’s commitment to history, language, and the black experience. The commissioned play, The Safe House, is slated for production in its 2008-9 season.
Last year, Adkins’s play Farewell Miss Cotton was produced at the Black Dahlia Theater in Los Angeles and received favorable reviews. The Sloan Science Foundation in conjunction with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival commissioned Adkins to write The Patron Saint of Peanuts, which explores the life of renowned botanist George Washington Carver and his turbulent experience at Tuskegee. Other plays by Adkins include Pitbulls (Bay Area Playwrights Festival—Honorable Mention, Mark Taper Forum New Plays Festival), Salt on Sugar Hill (Mark Taper Forum New Plays Festival), and Cobra Neck (Humana Festival).
As a screenwriter, Adkins was commissioned by Starburst Films to write the original screenplay Walking with Aliens, which tells the story of a man’s return home to search for his missing mother and estranged father. Adkins also wrote and directed two short films, Mother’s Book and Invisible Scream, shot on location in Cincinnati. Both films have been official selections at the Independent Black Film Festival in Atlanta, Reelheart International Film Festival in Toronto, Ohio Independent Film Festival in Cleveland, Great Lakes Film Festival, Arizona Black Film Festival, Black International Cinema in Berlin, and SE Manly Film Festival in Los Angeles. Love Aquarium, a film Adkins co-wrote about three couples challenged by modern love, has screened at the Hamptons Film Festival, Harlem International Film Festival, and Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, among many others.
Adkins has also written for the popular and critically acclaimed television series Girlfriends. His episode “X Does Not Mark the Spot,” which dealt with the drug Ecstasy, garnered a Prism Award nomination for the accurate depiction of drug, alcohol, or tobacco use or addiction in film, television, interactive, music, video, and comic book entertainment. He and Girlfriends were nominated for an NAACP Image Award as well as a BET Comedy Award.
Adkins currently spends his time between Brooklyn and Los Angeles. He will be in residence at the Taft Museum of Art during the first two weeks of November, when he will share his talents with Taft members, the public, and community and school groups.