Black Girl Joy

Black Girl Joy

Black Girl Joy



As well a member of the 2023 Kilroy’s List/Web

We are so excited and honored that La Femme Theatre Productions will receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to develop BLACK GIRL JOY, a new play written by award-winning Phanésia Pharel. La Femme Theatre Productions is among 1,130 projects across the country that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects funding for fiscal year 2023 that totaled more than 31 million dollars.

BLACK GIRL JOY is about a group of young women and nonbinary friends, grappling with death — as a means of “coming-of-age. The play shifts between memory, choreo-poem, and a juicy plot. It is a ritual play for black girls/women to heal from intimate partner violence, a loss of girlhood, and the death of our friends. Through this work, we at La Femme intend to create a space where audiences can connect with the powerful stories of Black women, fostering understanding and empathy, celebrating diversity, and above all else — spreading some black girl joy! 



Black Girl Joy by the Haitian American playwright Phanésia Pharel explores the threat of domestic abuse, the loss of girlhood, and the death of a friend. The play takes place at the Black Girl Joy Center for Vulnerable Youth in Miami, a fictional center based on the many social programming centers within Dade County. What captivated La Femme about this play is not only the relevance it holds in today’s socio-political climate but also the many forms the play takes. Black Girl Joy shifts between a choreopoem, a memory play, and a high stakes high school dramedy. But, most of all, Black Girl Joy is a work that encapsulates the trauma and triumph of being a young black woman in contemporary America.


Black Girl Joy was inspired by Phanésia Pharel’s experiences of grief and loss as a young Black woman raised in Miami. Phanésia wanted to write a play about grief and sisterhood, exploring what black girl joy really means. Black Girl Joy also pulls from Phanésia’s personal experiences of grief. Her family lost their home to a fire when she was 13, leading to years of harrowing housing insecurity, which she coped with through writing — initially stand-up routines and then, with encouragement from a high school drama teacher, playwriting.


The script has been through multiple development phases, beginning with an original draft at the New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Apprentice Program, followed by another iteration at Barnard College/Columbia University. After graduating from Barnard, Phanésia scheduled readings of her play at Egg and Spoon Theatre Collective/Vibe Theatre in NYC and the Playwright’s Center in Minnesota. But it was La Femme’s workshop in the spring of 2022, directed by the award-winning Regina Taylor, that brought the play to the next level. So, after securing the rights to Black Girl Joy, La Femme is now committed to developing the play for an Off-Broadway production during the 2024-2025 season.

But it was the relationship between Phanésia and La Femme’s Executive Director Jean Lichty that truly propelled the development of the play. They were brought together by Beyond Barnard, a Barnard College program that matches students with alumnae. When Phanésia applied for a La Femme internship in 2020, their connection took root during a Zoom call. Jean never forgot Phanésia’s radiance and indomitable spirit. Later, the two reconnected as members of a Barnard 2021 reunion arts panel – a reconnection that inspired Jean to establish the script development program A Woman’s Storyland. Black Girl Joy inaugurated that program in April of 2022 that culminated in an exceptional presentation after a highly productive two-week workshop.


Jean Lichty (left), Phanésia Pharel (right)
Jean Lichty with playwright Phanésia Pharel

Phanésia Pharel – is a Haitian American playwright from a Dragon Fruit farm in Miami. The proud daughter of an immigrant teacher and farmer, she writes to honor people.

Full lengths; Lucky (New York Stage and Film, Kennedy Center Latinx Playwriting Award, Kennedy Center Rosa Parks Playwriting Award, Kennedy Center Lorraine Hansberry Distinguished Achievement). Black Girl Joy (Frank Moffett Mosier Fellowship for Works in Heightened Finalist Prize, Jane Chambers Finalist, Bay Area Playwrights Festival Finalist). Other honors include City Theatre National Short Playwriting Finalist. 

Phanésia is a member of the Obie award-winning EST/ Youngblood group. Commissions include City Theatre Miami, the Latinx Playwrights Circle & Pregones/PRTT Greater Good Commission and Thrown Stone Theatre. Her work has been developed with the Old Globe, New York Stage and Film, Shattered Globe, Echo Theater Company of Los Angeles, and the Playwrights Center. 

Publishing: Concord Theatricals, Smith and Kraus Best Plays of 2020, Reset Coalition 2020 Anthology and the City Theatre Anthology. 

BA: Urban Studies, Barnard College of Columbia University.
MFA: Playwriting, University of California, San Diego ‘25