Gordon Parks Fine Arts Ensemble
The Haraka Writers is a collective body of students and community writers across the globe that first formed in 1973. Together, they create bold and informed literary work that establishes a strong voice for the modern black experience. The term “haraka” is Swahili for “expression,” and the ensemble exemplifies just that.
The group gathers to hold collaborative workshops that foster creativity and bring diverse influences together. The ensemble is well respected in the literary world, and many of its members have been published in scholarly writings. Through essays, prose, poetry and short stories, the Haraka Writers strive to reinforce the essential bonds that give hope and strength to people.
Assistant Director, Bill Caise
A native of Kentucky, Bill Caise earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky and his master's degree from the University of Iowa.
Caise has performed as an actor and director in numerous stage productions. While attending Iowa, Caise appeared in the world premiere production of Karin Coonrod's "Everything That Rises Must Converge," an adaptation of Flannery O'Connor short stories, Robert Alexander's "The Last Orbit of Billy Mars" as well as the Hansberry award-winning production of Levy "Lee" Simon's "The Bow Wow Club." Some of Caise's favorite roles have been as Cutler in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," Boy Willie in "The Piano Lesson," Nick Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Chasuble in "The Importance of Being Earnest."
He has directed shows ranging from Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost," to Luigi Pirandello's "The Man With the Flower in His Mouth" and August Wilson's "Two Trains Running." A few of his favorites productions have been his adaptation of James Weldon Johnson's "God's Trombones," in which he took Johnson's poems and set them in a historical context; George C. Wolfe's "The Colored Museum," which he staged using African ceremonies and rituals; and "The Dictator's Nose," where he worked with celebrated clown and solo performer Bob Berky.
Caise has taught at the University of Kentucky, the University of Iowa and the Governor's School for the Arts. He has held adjunct positions at Purdue in the theatre department and the African American Studies and Research Center. He also was a founding member and artistic director of MESSAGE Theatre, a theatre company that focused on the works of African-American theatre.