( 1964- )
Born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, the daughter of an Army man, Parks traveled across the United States, from Texas to Vermont, until the family was transferred to Germany where she attended junior high school and quickly learned to speak German. She remembers her childhood fondly because of the way her parents experienced the places they lived. After graduating from Mt. Holyoke with a BA in English and German literature and thinking that she wanted to become an actress, Parks studied at the Drama Studio, London, where she received a postgraduate degree in 1986.
Her interest in playwriting was piqued earlier through a writing class she took with James Baldwin, who suggested that she try plays because of her fondness for writing dialogue. Parks's emergence into theatre-world visibility was explosive. Productions of parts of Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom at BACA Downtown, Fringe Series, in Brooklyn, New York, beginning in 1986, attracted such attention that the theatre opened its 1989 season with all four parts of Parks's play, the first time the theatre had brought back any work for a second showing. The play was well received, and the Manhattan Theatre Club presented Part 4 in 1990, the year it won an Obie for Best Play. The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World followed with presentations at BACA and a production at Yale Repertory's 1992 Winterfest, where she shared a bill with veteran playwrights Colette Brooks and Maria Irene Fornes. Parks was interviewed, and her works were heralded by serious critics, analyzed in theatre journals, and widely published.
Her work has found a home at several major nonprofit theatres, including the Public Theatre in New York, as well as Yale Rep and the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, and a major interpreter in director Liz Dia