Kia Corthron is a playwright and novelist. She is the author of The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter which was released by Seven Stories Press in 2016 and awarded The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her plays have been produced in New York, across the U.S. and internationally.
She was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland, a valley in the Appalachians on the banks of the Potomac facing West Virginia. Her mother, Shirley Beckwith Corthron, also born in Cumberland, was a homemaker and school volunteer, at times in her younger years working as a nurse’s aid and house cleaner. Her father, James Corthron, born and raised on a Virginia farm, worked at the local paper mill planning shipments.
Corthron attended state schools for her undergraduate degree (Frostburg State College and the University of Maryland in College Park), did a bit of editing in the D.C. area for a while, then relocated to New York City to earn her masters in Theatre Arts at Columbia University.
As a playwright, Corthron has received numerous awards, including several for her body of work: the Windham Campbell Prize for Drama, the United States Artists Jane Addams Fellowship, the Otto Award for Political Theatre, the Simon Great Plains Playwright Award, and the Lee Reynolds Award. In addition, she has written a bit of television. (Edgar and Writers Guild Outstanding Series awards for The Wire.) In 2017 she was the resident playwright of Chicago's Eclipse Theatre, which produced three of her plays.
Among other theatres that have premiered her plays are Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Atlantic Theater Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club (New York City); Yale Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Stage, Hartford Stage, Children’s Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival (regionally); Royal Court Theatre, Donmar Warehouse (London). She has taught playwriting in prisons for youth and for adults, and at universities and conservatories for undergraduate and graduate students. She has frequently contributed short plays to theatrical evenings curated to address specific current issues, such as the suffering of Iraqis under U.S. sanctions, the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, and as a benefit to aid Haitian earthquake victims. She traveled to the West Bank and Gaza as part of a six-playwright contingent led by Naomi Wallace to meet with Palestinian theatres, and she spent two weeks in Liberia as the country was beginning to transition out of its civil war and wrote a play inspired by the experience. In early 2016 she was part of a six-member delegation to South Africa - a reading tour sponsored by the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, meeting with South African writers and students.
Since coming to Manhattan as a student in 1988 she has lived in New York City, mostly (since 1995) in Harlem.