Professor Denise J. Hart has served the academic community at Howard University for 20+ years. In the Department of Theatre Arts she serves as the area coordinator of Playwriting advising Playwriting/TV&Film students. Named the 2018 Outstanding Associate Professor in the Division of Fine Arts, in addition to teaching at Howard University, Hart was honored to be named the 2019 Visiting Professor at St. Mary's College in the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies and has also taught at American University and Duke Ellington School of the Arts. As well, she was honored to be named the 2020 featured playwright for the Penn State African American Read in.
Hart's research/creative expertise as a playwright is grounded in the African American experience and explores the intersection of race, class and identity and its impact on memory, personal integrity and family. She strives to create relatable, flawed and complex characters within multi-layered stories. She also focuses on researching and directing the work of black playwrights such as the plays of August Wilson and Lydia Diamond, among others. Additional focus is on the history of archival collections that focus on the evolution of black theatre at Howard University with a focus on the Howard Players and the College Dramatic Club. Her scholarship is driven by a commitment to document and preserve under researched narratives in the history of black theatre, particularly black playwrights.
Hart is a commissioned playwright with Plowshares Theatre Company and the recipient of several national playwriting honors and awards. Her award winning plays include: Nothing to Lose (finalist 2018 Bay Area Playwrights, former finalist in the Black and Latino Playwrights Conference) Sistah Girl, Masquerade Parade, Ring the Bell, My Soul is a Witness (winner of ECTC playwriting competition), The Last Day, In the Realm of Shadows, Chasing Forever, Peace Declared, A Real Black Comedy and This Joy, (a former finalist in both The Lark and the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights competition). Hart is also a screenwriter and is a former recipient of the AJJAP award for screenwriting.
She is a sought after production and play development dramaturge consultant. Her production dramaturge credits include: Jitney (recipient of the 2019 Memphis Ostrander Award for Best Production), Milk Like Sugar, Sweet Charity, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Day of Absence (ACTFestival Outstanding Acting Ensemble Award), Zooman and the Sign, Malcom. Martin & Medgar, Breath Boom and both Quick Stop at the Florist and Secret Mist of the Blue for the DC Queer Festival. She has provided expertise as a guest expert on Fox 5 News, served as play development dramatruge for playwrights Nikkole Salter, A. Peter Bailey, Barbara Asare-Bediako and Kofi Kwahule. Others that have benefited from her expertise include: Studio Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre, Hatiloo Theatre, Arena Stage, Mosaic Theatre, Ira Aldridge Theatre/Howard University and Blackademics TV.
For the past six years, exclusively for Lone Star Emmy nominated Blackademics TV, nationally televised via PBS and reaching over 3 million households, Hart has served as a scholarly writing and media coach. Each year, during pre-production for the live taping, she provides dramaturgy/scholarly writing support and media coaching for nationally and internationally recognized scholars, artists and activists.
Hart is a founding charter member of the nationally recognized August Wilson Society. She recently served as the 2019 co-chair of the August Wilson Ground lecture series which featured Mr. Wilson's wife, Constanz Romero along with Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson speaking on—Cornbread, Biscuits, and Coca-Cola: Foods and Food Practices in August Wilson’s American Century Cycle Plays. In addition, Hart is the former Managing Editor of the internationally recognized peer reviewed journal, Continuum: The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance and editorial board member of the journal, Evoke: A Historical, Theoretical, and Cultural Analysis of Africana Dance and Theatre. Hart is also a member of the Dramatist Guild, Literary Managers and Dramaturges of the Americas (LMDA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Black Theatre Network (BTN) and the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).
Lastly, one of Hart's academic and professional highlights has been serving as committee chair for the 2020 Amazon Studios/Howard Entertainment partnership initiative. During spring 2020, she joined a faculty and student cohort to live and work in Los Angeles during which she taught Script Development/TV Production.