Suzan-Lori Parks

Suzan-Lori Parks

Past Event: Wednesday, February 7, 2007

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Literary Arts

Sponsored by Hoffman Construction Company of Washington.

Suzan-Lori Parks is playing the role predicted by her mentor James Baldwin: “an utterly astounding and beautiful creature who may become one of the most valuable artists of our time.”

After two early plays won Obie awards, Parks became the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in drama for Topdog/Underdog (2001), portraying two hustling brothers pointedly named Lincoln and Booth. Broadway led to Hollywood: among other credits, Parks wrote the screenplay for Spike Lee’s Girl 6 and an adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s classic Their Eyes Were Watching God. According to the New York Times, Parks’ first novel, Getting Mother’s Body (2003), “suggests her future as a novelist may be as bright as her career in the theater.” Astonishingly prolific, Parks met the challenge she set herself in 2002 to write a play a day for the entire year. She recently completed The War Anthologies, a collaboration with Tony Kushner and other artists. While critics note Parks’ focus on race and class prejudice, she declares: “Every play I write is about love and distance. And time. And from that we can get things like history.”

Parks has also received Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award. She taught drama at Yale University and heads the dramatic writing program at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.

Excerpt from Topdog/Underdog
Why you think they left us, man?

Mom and Pops? I dont think about it too much.

I dont think they liked us.

Naw, that aint it.

I think there was something out there that they liked more than they liked us and for years they was struggling against moving towards that more liked something. Each of them had a special something that they was struggling against. Moms had hers. Pops had his. And they was struggling. We moved out of that nasty apartment into a house. A whole house. It wernt perfect but it was a house and theyd bought it and they brought us there and everything we owned, figuring we could be a family in that house and them things, them two separate things each of them was struggling against, would just leave them be. Them things would see thuh house and be impressed and just leave them be. Would see thuh job Pops had and how he shined his shoes every night before he went to bed, shining them shoes whether they needed it or not, and thuh thing he was struggling against would see all that and just let him be, and thuh thing Moms was struggling against, it would see the food on the table every night and listen to her voice when she’d read to us sometimes, the clean clothes, the buttons sewed on all right and it would just let her be. Just let us all be, just regular people living in a house. That wernt too much to ask.

Least we was grown when they split.

16 and 11 aint grown.

16’s grown. Almost. And I was ok cause you was there.

Selected WorkDrama365 Days / 365 Plays (2002)In the Blood (2001)Topdog/Underdog (1999)Venus (1996)Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1990)FictionGetting Mother’s Body (2003)LinksThe 365 Days/Plays Project

PBS NewsHour Interview

Seattle Post Intelligencer Article

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

By Car

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5 via Westbound I-90
    Take the 2C exit for I-5 North. Follow signs for Madison Street/Convention Place and merge right onto Seventh Avenue. Turn left onto Madison Street. Proceed three blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue four blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Public Transit (Bus & Light Rail)
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. This option is present at every event at Benaroya Hall in our 2019/20 Season.

Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). Benaroya Hall has an infrared hearing system, which transmits sound by light beams. Headsets are available in The Boeing Company Gallery coat check and the Head Usher stations in both lobbies.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation.

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at our venues, and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. Guide and service dogs are also welcome. Among other features, Benaroya Hall has designated parking spaces adjacent to elevators in their parking garage. Elevators with Braille signage go to all levels within the Hall. A unisex restroom is also available. For more details on their accessibility features, click here.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive.  Our Patron Services Manager is available at, or Monday-Thursday from 10:00am – 5:00pm, and Fridays from 10:00am – 1:00pm, at 206.621.2230×10.