Playwright


Dawn Bowery Photography

Dawn Bowery Photography

Keli’s plays, which often focus on intersectionality, and the ways race, class, gender and politics impact our closest relationships, have received staged readings at theaters across the country. Her latest play, The Kitchen, attempts to reclaim the often grotesque caricature of black maids in popular culture, by painting a nuanced portrait of a woman striving to maintain her dignity in domestic service (a profession women in Keli’s family have worked in with pride and integrity.) The Kitchen explores what happens to the burgeoning friendship between Alma, an upper class white woman, and Docie, her black maid, when Docie insists on fighting for justice following a racially charged sexual assault in the Deep South at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The Kitchen was selected for inclusion in The Road Theatre Company’s 2019 Summer Playwrights Festival.

A lifelong theater fan, Keli's career as a playwright began when she submitted her first play Redeemed to the legendary Public Theater of New York. The story of what happens to the relationship of a homophobic pastor and his daughter when she decides to work on the campaign of an openly gay congressional candidate, Redeemed, earned Keli one of the Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group Fellowships. During this two-year residency, she developed her second play, The Color of Trust, (formerly known as “The Black Friend) which explores the impact of a racial discrimination lawsuit on the relationships of lifelong friends of different races who work for the same corporation. After enjoying two sold out staged readings during The Public Theater’s 2015 Spotlight Series, where it starred Tony nominee Condola Rashad, The Color of Trust was selected for Labyrinth Theater's Up Next Series, which culminated in a staged reading in November 2016. That same year it was also designated a semi-finalist for The Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship and a finalist for the AracaWorks reading series.

In 2014 Redeemed was included in the Genesis Festival of New Plays at Crossroads Theater and in 2015 it was selected as a finalist for The Premiere Stages Playwriting Festival, where critically acclaimed actor Frankie Faison starred in the lead role. As of 2019, Keli is currently in development on two new plays.

Keli with actor Frankie Faison during the Premiere Stages reading of "Redeemed"

Keli with actor Frankie Faison during the Premiere Stages reading of "Redeemed"