Collaborating with Shontina Vernon on Forging Ahead


Flying Carpet is currently working with Activist-Artist Shontina Vernon to develop her solo play with music entitled Forging Ahead, which is based on Shontina’s unique life story that led her down a path to time in prison.  Shontina investigates America’s epidemic of mass incarceration through the lens of her own experience.

FCT had two script development weeks with Shontina in summer and fall of 2016 and we plan to have a public showcase of the initial draft of the play to present in late Fall of 2017.

Shontina Vernon is a writer/musician/actor and social justice activist most noted for her genre bending storytelling style. She works across forms, using multi-media, poetic narrative, and music. She’s steadily gaining a reputation as a risk taker and a visionary, unconventional storyteller. A native of West Texas, Vernon credits her small town beginnings with giving her a colorful imagination and an ear for the language and lyricism so prevalent in her work. She privileges the lens and stories of people of color and women.  

In 2010, Vernon premiered the earliest version of Forging Ahead entitled  Wanted -at the Hip Hop Theatre Festival in NYC and has also had showings in Dallas, Seattle, and Denmark. Other plays she has written include A Lovely Malfunction (premiered late last year in a collaboration of the Negro Ensemble Company and LaMama in NYC), Etta Phifer’s Testimonial Shoe Kismet and Psychology of Chromosome X, a series of one acts exploring black female sexuality. Her work has been produced by Seattle’s ACT Theatre, as part of the terraNOVA’s soloNOVA Festival, by the Hansberry Project, and developed at the New York Theatre Workshop. Vernon is a National Performance Network touring artist and a nominated playwright on the Kilroy’s List. She is currently developing a new piece under the workshop title, Her Black Body Politic, and a new series for television.

A believer in the transformative power of personal narrative storytelling, Vernon has worked to develop arts as an alternative to incarceration programs for youth, serving as mentor artist with the Seattle based Creative Justice Program (4Culture), Dallas County Juvenile Department and the Door in New York. Her work as a teaching artist has been featured in the award winning documentary film Stages produced by the Meerkat Media Collective.