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Meet CADILLAC CREW Director Dr. Corlis Hayes

"What happens when Black women refuse to be written out of history?" is one of the many important questions being asked in Toni Sampson's powerful new play CADILLAC CREW, which plays in the Firemen’s Kitchen at HCT from February 24th through March 4th.

Making her directorial debut at HCT with this production is Dr. Corlis Hayes.

Born and raised in "The Gateway City" of St. Louis, Dr. Hayes now resides in Charlotte. She holds a PhD from Southern Illinois University, where she also received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Liberal Arts.

Dr. Hayes is currently a faculty member in the Division of Arts and Communication at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte. Previously, she served as Chair of the Theatre Department at Morgan State University (MSU) and Livingstone College, and as head of the Drama Program at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU).

Dr. Hayes is also a faculty member at The Theatre Gap Initiative—a nonprofit group that helps high school students prepare to apply for BFA and conservatory programs. She serves on the Board of Directors of Theatre Charlotte as Chair of The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, and also serves on the Advisory Board for Free Reign Theatre Company.

Among Dr. Hayes' college/university directing credits are THE MIRACLE WORKER, THE PIANO LESSON, FENCES, and MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM at CPCC, A SOLDIER'S PLAY at MSU, and FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE/WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF at JCSU. She has also directed shows for several local theatre companies, including KING LIZ for Three Bones Theatre, TOP DOG/UNDER DOG for Shakespeare Carolina, and TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES for On Q Productions.

Dr. Hayes has received numerous awards for her work. They include two Best Drama Awards from Creative Loafing: 2014's SIZWE BANSI IS DEAD (Carolina Actors Studio Theatre), and 2017's JITNEY (Brand New Sheriff Productions). She received a 2020 Broadway World Award (Best Play and Director) for FENCES, and a 2019 Metrolina Theatre Association Award (Best Play and Director) for TWO TRAINS RUNNING, both with Brand New Sheriff Productions. In 2022, she received another Metrolina Theatre Association Award (Best Director) for MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM.

Other honors for Dr. Hayes include being one of several guest speakers invited by The Charlotte Postmaster to speak at the virtual dedication of the "August Wilson Black Heritage Stamp" in 2021. In addition, she is member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women-Queen City Chapter.

Dr. Hayes thanks HCT Artistic Director Eric Seale for the "incredible opportunity to work with this talented cast and amazing designers and crew." She also thanks dialect coach Marilyn Carter and dramaturg Tia Robbins for their important contributions. Finally, Dr. Hayes wishes to dedicate this production to Dr. Dorothy Height and Dr. Mary Bethune for their roles as women leaders in the Civil Rights Movement.

Performances of CADILLAC CREW are Fridays and Saturdays, February 24th through March 4th at 7:30 PM; Sunday, February 26th at 2:30 PM; and, Thursday, March 2nd at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $16 for adults, $10 for youth and students.

Tickets are available online at, or by phone at 828-328-2283. The theatre box office is open from 12-5 PM Wednesday through Friday, or one half-hour before a performance.

CADILLAC CREW is rated PG-13 for subject matter.

CADILLAC CREW is produced in association with Corning Optical Communications. The Hickory Community Theatre’s 74th season is sponsored by Paramount Automotive, SunBelt Xpress and Frye Regional Medical Center. HCT is a funded affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County.

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

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