Artist StatementAward-winning playwright/director and Founder of Zionward Productions. Stage plays for all ages, specializing in full productions centering around dramatic theatre performances with uplifting and inspirational messages.
A native of Baltimore, Derrell is quickly becoming a recognizable talent in theatre. Derrell was selected as the Black male of the Month for the June 2001 publication of agoodblackman.com for his efforts to improve, maintain and promote positive images in the African American community through his writing. In February 2000, his original play, The Family Mantle, won 1st place in the Eighteenth Annual Drama Competition sponsored by ABC2 and the Arena Players, Inc. The play was produced for television and aired on ABC in honor of Black History Month. Derrell received congratulatory e-mails from his mentors Charles Fuller (A Soldier’s Play) and David Talbert (First Sunday), who encouraged him to continue writing for the theatre and to continue to follow his dreams.
In May 2001, the revised full-length version of The Family Mantle won Derrell an Individual Artist Award in Playwriting from the Maryland State Arts Council and two Governor’s Citations. The Family Mantle was selected by The Frank Silvera Writers Workshop in New York to be read during the Readers Theatre Series of new plays at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina. In July 2002, Derrell was honored with the Legacy of Excellence: Future Gateway Award from A Good Black Man, Incorporated for his continued work to promote positive images of Black men. In July 2003, Derrell’s original play, “Sessions in Autumn,” was selected once again by The Frank Silvera Writers Workshop in New York to be read during the Readers Theatre Series of new plays at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina. In July 2012, Derrell’s original one Act play, “A Love Like This” was selected to be performed at Baltimore’s ArtScape, America's largest free arts festival, attracting over 350,000 attendees over three days.
Derrell’s stage plays continue to break new ground with unique elements and thought provoking story lines. His increasing popularity has audiences comparing him to theatre greats August Wilson and Tyler Perry. Derrell continues to place his faith in God and dreams big. In 2005, Derrell founded Zionward Productions, a theatre production company committed to producing professional stage plays with strong moral and spiritual content. Through Zionward Productions, Derrell plans to begin touring his plays and already has his sights set on New York, Chicago, Charlotte, Columbus and L.A. In the near future, Zionward Productions plans to host the Zion Christian Theatre Awards, the first ever formal Christian awards to honor the achievements of Christians in theatre arts.