Lorene Cary


Lorene Cary’s new play about Harriet Tubman, My General Tubman, premiered January 2020 at Arden Theatre in Philadelphia. Tubman shows up in a Philadelphia prison to find men to fight with her in the Civil War when one decides that he can figure out how to go back in time himself and become her second husband. Playing to sold-out houses, the play and has twice been extended, to 15 March.Cary’s 2019 care-taking memoir, Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of Her Century, published by W.W. Norton Books, is also available as an audiobook recording. The narrative travels through five generations to find the roots of family love and rupture. Ladysitting has been released in paperback, July 2020.As a resident in American Lyric Theater’s Composer & Librettist Development Program, Cary wrote a libretto that takes off from Ladysitting. Composer Liliya Ugay set a lyrical score and produced her own recording. The one-act opera is titled The Gospel According to Nana. She and composer Ugay have begun work on an opera called Robeson in Concert.Cary’s non-fiction includes her best-selling memoir Black Ice, a collection of stories for young readers titled Free! Great Escapes from Slavery on the Underground Railroad, and magazine articles and blogs. Novels include The Price of a Child, chosen as the first One Book One Philadelphia offering; Pride; and If Sons, Then Heirs. Cary has written scripts for videos at The President’s House exhibit on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. For 25 years Cary has taught fiction and non-fiction at UPenn; she received the Provost’s Award for Distinguished Teaching twice, most recently in 2017. Now she invites her students to publish on #VotethatJawn, supporting youth registration, voting, and engagement, a project that helped double youth registration in Philadelphia in 2018. In 1998 Cary founded Art Sanctuary to enrich urban Philadelphia with the excellence of black arts. To create an intentional transition, she stepped down as director in 2012. She served as president of the Union Benevolent Association; and, from 2011-2013, and as a member of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission, where, as chair of the Safety Committee, she worked to eliminate zero-tolerance punishments for children.Honors include: UPenn’s Provost’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, The Philadelphia Award, and honorary doctorates from Swarthmore, Muhlenberg, Colby, and Keene State Colleges, and Arcadia and Gwynedd Mercy Universities.

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