Meet the Shortlist- Dave Harris

By Dave Harris


‘The better question is: why did he write us into a minstrel show?

He could’ve written anything he wanted, and he chose to write this.

You couldn’t give us no quarters in your show? You had to make us struggle n shit?’


Tambo and Bones are two characters in a minstrel show. They soon come to realize that they are, in fact, just two characters in a minstrel show. This realization brings them great distress. They decide that there is only one solution: they must find and kill the source of all their troubles. TAMBO & BONES is a daring theatrical exploration of the intersection of race, capitalism, and performance.

Dave Harris is a poet and playwright from West Philly. He is the Tow Playwright-in-Residence at Roundabout Theatre Company. His play EXCEPTION TO THE RULE will have its world premiere at Roundabout Underground in spring 2020. His plays have been produced or developed by Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, Roundabout Underground, Manhattan Theater Club, Victory Gardens, The Kennedy Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, SPACE on Ryder Farm, The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, and Ojai Playwrights Conference amongst others. Honors include: the 2019 Ollie Award, The Lorraine Hansberry Award and Mark Twain Award from The Kennedy Center, the 2018 Venturous Fellowship from The Lark, Cave Canem poetry fellowship, and a semi-finalist for The Relentless Award amongst others. His first full-length collection of poetry, Patricide, was published in May 2019 from Button Poetry. Dave received his B.A. from Yale University and is a third year MFA playwright at UC San Diego. UPCOMING: INCENDIARY (Goodman Theatre New Stages Festival, Chicago, fall 2019), EXCEPTION TO THE RULE (Roundabout Underground, NYC, spring 2020).


Dave is eligible for the new Bruntwood Prize International Award. For more information on this award- and the nomination process please go to


What inspired you to write this play?

I was thinking about race and capitalism, and how that ties into performance. The ways that trauma becomes performance for an audience becomes profit.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a playwright?

I’ve been writing my whole life, in varying forms. I wrote my first play in 7th grade and have been at it ever since, though I never learned that it could be a career until a few years ago. I’m so energized by the imaginations of others and by the work of this field. To be here brings me so much joy.

It’s an incredible honor to be shortlisted with these other international playwrights who I love and admire, and with so many new playwrights that I cannot wait to get to know.

What do you think about anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize?

It’s been fairly common in my experience, but it was fun to come up with a pseudonym for this submission. I’ve never had to do that before lol.


Dave is a student at on the MFA playwright’s course at UC San Diego- we hosted a livestream in partnership with the brilliant Naomi Iizuka early in the year. You can see Dave as a participant in the workshop here

Published on:
21 Oct 2019 Watch video


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