P- Valley Creator, Katori Hall Directs The Hot Wing King In Atlanta
The Hot Wing King is a comedy that chronicles a gay black couple in Memphis juggling family conflict, relationship drama, and friendship the evening before a hot wing competition. Making her directorial debut since it was published in 2019, the playwright’s story is loosely based on Katori's
older brother’s journey towards self-acceptance and finding love in the Dirty South. The show additionally explores themes like fatherhood, police brutality, and masculinity. The Hot Wing King can be seen at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta through March 5, 2023
“I have been a witness to his struggles, his coming out, and his falling in love with his partner, so I wanted to give that gift to other people to show that it can happen,” says Katori
The Hot Wing King’s original director, Steve H. Broadnax III, convinced Hall to write the play. Also a same-gender-loving Black man, Steve helped Katori workshop the story while completing her playwriting residency with Signature Theatre and developing the pilot season of P-Valley. The two-time Tony Award nominee still considers herself Broadnax’s understudy while seated in the director’s chair at Alliance Theatre.
“I have to figure out ways to make intimacy epic, in which gestures of love and tenderness have to be amplified,” the Olivier Award recipient said. “I’m very blessed and lucky that I got the opportunity to see another director put it up in another space.”
Actor Nicco Annan, who originated the part of P-Valley’s witty, gender-bending strip club owner Uncle Clifford for both stage and screen, is also reclaiming his role in The Hot Wing King as Big Charles, a barber who’s more interested in watching sports than preparing chicken wings. Having the Detroit-born thespian on-hand for her projects who’s coming into his own as a notable actor reassures that she has a creative soulmate who understands her vision.
“I’m so blessed that I have a muse and a metronome,” Hall said, calling Annon “her brother, best friend, and part of her creative tribe.” “It’s so rare that writers can find actors who can completely trust them and dream together. We’re constantly talking to each other about the stories we’re telling together. I trust him with my life.”
“He is an icon now,” she continued. “He is going down in the history books. I’m over the moon that I was able to create that space for him so that people could see how amazing of an actor he is.”
Setting her sights on crafting more period pieces, Hall appreciates being able to juggle numerous projects as a Black woman creative. Earning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2021, or what she calls “a crown,” while the theater was closed, only motivated Hall to remain faithful to her voice and original creative goals.
“I’ve always dreamed that I would be equally as powerful, prolific, and potent in theater as I was in TV and film,” Hall said. “In the theater space, to have both a musical on a national tour and a play running at the same time just does not happen.”
“I am telling stories about my people with love, nuance, and understanding that creates empathy,” Hall added. “I’m going to pour every story that I have inside of my brain out in some way. It’s my responsibility to continue to bring up other Black female writers. I truly bust my ass to make sure all of us are represented on the American stage. That mission is my fuel and keeps my passion stoked.”