University of Pittsburgh
October 31, 2000


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 1 -- Mark Southers, who has been associated with Kuntu Repertory Theatre at the University of Pittsburgh since 1980 as a photographer and actor, will have his play, "When the Water Turns Clear," produced in Chicago next spring.

The play, which will be performed May 3 through June 17 at the Performing Arts Institution, is about a hardworking widower who tries to raise his young son and balance his future with love and the promise of one day owning a store. Its producer is Abena Joan Brown, president and co-founder of ETA Creative Arts Foundation.

Southers, who works for USX, US Steel Corporation, began with Kuntu as a photographer in 1980, then moved into acting in the company's "Among the Best: The Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Homestead Grays," playwright Rob Penny's tribute to the area's Negro League teams. Southers wrote "When the Water Turns Clear" in 1999, one of five plays he has written in the past two years.

"Playwrighting to me is a release," he said. "It's a kind of outlet to discuss issues that I have in my life, or of others that I know, or simply problems that often affect our community."

A graduate of Schenley High School, he briefly attended Tuskegeee Institute in Alabama, as well as the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Filmmakers. He has a six-year-old daughter, Ashley.

Southers, who was raised in the Schenley Heights neighborhood where he still lives, was chief photographer for the New Pittsburgh Courier from 1980 to 1988, before moving to the US Virgin Islands to work for the St. Thomas Daily News. He again was employed by the Courier from 1989 to 1991.

"I think Mark is one of the most sensitive artists I have known," said Vernell Lillie, Kuntu's founder and artistic director. "He combines his knowledge of photography with his love for language and history to give readers images that radiate with inner beauty in environments that allow relationships to grow, or to struggle for what could be.

"He has lived a full life as an actor, a model, a photographer, a carpenter, a softball coach, a father, and a mentor for young people. It seems that, because of his rich life, he is able to reflect over what community, relationships, fears, and dreams mean in a world that moves beyond realism into a world of imagination."

"Receiving notice that my play was accepted and was going to be produced on the main stage was indeed a breath of fresh air," said Southers. "It reassured me to believe in myself and to continue to hone my craft, because eventually doors will open, and that it is up to you to prepare and do the things necessary to put yourself in position to be standing there when they unlock them."

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