Helen Hayes Award-winning actress Iyona Blake ’00 (Bachelor of Music in Performance) wrote and directed “Diagnosed,” a new play that seeks to break the stigma around Black mental health. The work will be presented at the Creative Cauldron in Falls Church, Virginia, from Thursday, Feb. 9, through Sunday, March 5.
“Diagnosed” is a play that follows Lydia, an African American woman who inherits a family-owned boutique. While searching for her own inner peace, she creates a safe space for women to share their stories of hurt, trauma and healing. Guided by the spirit of her ancestors, Lydia and the women are able to come face to face with their childhood and present-day traumas. They will soon see that a boutique filled with women’s fashion, standout accessories and envy-inducing handbags isn’t the only common ground the women share.
Shenandoah University students, faculty and staff are invited to attend a special College Night at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24. Tickets are available for purchase at www.creativecauldron.org/diagnosed.html.
Blake is a Washington, D.C.-based actor, singer and recitalist, educator, a sought-after private vocal coach and playwright. She is the 2017 Helen Hayes Award Winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for her role as Caroline Thibodeaux in “Caroline, or Change.” She has recently been seen in “Beauty and the Beast” (Mrs. Potts), “Crowns” (Velma), “The Sound of Music” (The Mother Abbess), “Spunk” (Blues Speak Woman), “Ain’t Misbehavin’” (Armelia McQueen), “Scottsboro Boys” (The Lady, understudy/performed), “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” (Lady Day), “Titanic” (Caroline Neville), “Jelly’s Last Jam” (Gran Mimi). “The Wizard of Oz” (Glinda), “Blues in the Night” (The Lady), “Once on This Island” (Asaka), “Thunder Knocking on the Door” (Good Sister), to name a few.
Blake has written plays for children and adults, including “Girls of Madison Street,” a story about a journey to love, sisterhood and reconciliation. She aims to bring mental health awareness and hope with her latest play, “Diagnosed.”
While at Shenandoah University, she was the director of the Harambee Gospel Choir. Blake later toured China and Korea, Asia performing solo and ensemble music. She performed internationally by joining an impressive ensemble of nine professional singers on a cultural envoy to Cairo, Egypt, amongst 12 other countries, representing the United States in an international festival of sacred music and chanting.