A Dozen Dreams.
A Dozen playwrights.
A Dozen rooms.
In the midst of the global pandemic and Black Lives Matter revolution, En Garde Arts will present a visually stunning, socially distant, 360° immersive installation. Take your own intimate tour into each room to delve into the thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams these writers are having now.
A stellar group of imaginative writers who represent a multiplicity of voices and perspectives, from Pulitzer prize winners to emerging voices share their dreams: Sam Chanse, Erika Dickerson-Dispenza, Martyna Majok, Emily Mann with singer Kecia Lewis, Ellen McLaughlin, Rehana Mirza, Mona Mansour, Liza Jessie Peterson, Ren Dara Santiago, Caridad Svich, Andrea Thome, and Lucy Thurber.
Come out for a COVID-safe live event. Opening in September (if the universe allows.) Tickets on sale in August! Timed entry between noon and 9 pm six days per week.
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Conceived by Anne Hamburger and John Clinton Eisner
Support for the piece comes from
Steven Aresty Foundation
Distracted Globe Foundation
Individual Donors ($1,000+)
Kathleen & Henry Chalfant
Pamela & Thomas Jackson
Creative Team Bios
Sam Chanse (Playwright) is the author of Trigger, Monument, or Four Sisters (A Sloth Play), The Opportunities of Extinction, Fruiting Bodies, The Other Instinct, What You Are Now, Lydia’s Funeral Video, about that whole dying thing, and Asian American Jesus. Her work has been developed and/or produced with the Lark, Ma-Yi Theater, Cherry Lane, Leviathan Lab, Ars Nova, Broken Nose, Ensemble Studio Theater/Sloan Project, 24 Hour Plays, and the Ojai Playwrights’ Conference, and is published by Kaya Press (Lydia’s Funeral Video) and TCG (The Kilroys List). She is a resident playwright of New Dramatists, a Lark Venturous Fellow, and a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab.A past fellow at MacDowell, Cherry Lane, Sundance Theatre Institute, and Playwrights Realm , she has also received residencies and commissions from Djerassi, SPACE at Ryder Farm, EST/Sloan, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, University of Rochester’s International Theatre Program, Ma-Yi/the Flea, and the SF Arts Commission. She is an alum of Ars Nova’s Play Group, the Civilians R&D Group, and the Lark’s New York Stage & Film Vassar Retreat. As an educator, she has taught writing and playwriting at Columbia University, New York University, the University of Rochester, and elsewhere. A native New Yorker, she was based in San Francisco for several years, when she served as Artistic Director of Kearny Street Workshop and Co-Director of Locus Arts, and developed work as a writer and performer at Bindlestiff, AATC, Playground, standup spots, and other artistic homes. She received her MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University, and in Musical Theater Writing from NYU/Tisch. She is currently based in Brooklyn.
Erika Dickerson-Despenza (Playwright) is a Blk, queer feminist poet-playwright and cultural/memory worker from Chicago, Illinois. She is a 2020 Grist 50 Fixer and was a National Arts & Culture Delegate for the U.S. Water Alliance’s One Water Summit 2019.Awards:Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award (2020), Thom Thomas Award (2020), L. Arnold Weissberger Award finalist (2020), Princess Grace Playwriting Award (2019). Residencies & Fellowships: Tow Playwright-in-Residence at The Public Theater (2019-2020), New York Stage and Film Fellow-in-Residence (2019), New Harmony Project Writer-in Residence (2019), Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow (2018-2019), The Lark Van Lier New Voices Fellow (2018). Communities: BYP100 (Squad Member), Ars Nova Play Group (2019-2021), Youngblood Collective (EST). Commissions: ThePublic Theater; Studio Theatre.Productions: cullud wattah (2019 Kilroys List) originally slated at The Public Theater, 2020; Victory Gardens Theater, 2021. Currently, Erika is developing a 10-play Katrina Cycle, including shadow/land and [hieroglyph] (2019 Kilroys List), focused on the effects of Hurricane Katrina and its state-sanctioned, man-made disaster rippling in & beyond New Orleans.
Martyna Majok (Playwright) was born in Bytom, Poland and aged in Jersey and Chicago. She was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Cost of Living (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club). Other plays include Sanctuary City (New York Theatre Workshop, Berkeley Rep), Queens (LCT3/Lincoln Center, La Jolla Playhouse), and Ironbound (Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Round House, WP Theatre/Rattlestick, Geffen Playhouse, National Theatre of Warsaw, amongst other theatres in America and abroad). Awards include The Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Play, ATCA Francesca Primus Prize, The Dramatists Guild’s Lanford Wilson Award, The Lilly Awards’ Stacey Mindich Prize, The Greenfield Prize (first female recipient in drama), Champions of Change Award from the NYC Mayor’s Office, Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Original New Play or Musical at The Helen Hayes Awards, The Ashland New Plays Festival Women’s Invitational Prize, The Kennedy Center’s Jean Kennedy Smith Award, Marin Theatre’s David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize, New York Theatre Workshop’s 2050 Fellowship, Aurora Theatre’s Global Age Project Prize, National New Play Network’s Smith Prize for Political Playwriting, two Jane Chambers Feminist Playwriting Prizes, and The Merage Foundation Fellowship for the American Dream. Commissions from The Public Theater, Lincoln Center, The Bush Theatre in London, The Almeida Theatre in London, The Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Rep, and Manhattan Theatre Club. Publications by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, TCG, and Smith & Kraus. Residencies at Sundance Theatre Lab in Morocco, The Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, The Vineyard Arts Project with The Public Theatre, Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Fuller Road, Marble House Project, and Ragdale. BA: University of Chicago; MFA: Yale School of Drama, The Juilliard School. She has taught playwriting at Williams College, Wesleyan University, SUNY Purchase, Primary Stages ESPA, NJRep, and as an assistant to Paula Vogel at Yale. Alumna of EST’s Youngblood, Women’s Project Lab, and the Core Writer program at Playwrights’ Center. Member of The Dramatists Guild, The Writers Guild of America East, and New York Theatre Workshop’s Usual Suspects. Martyna was a 2012-2013 NNPN playwright-in-residence, the 2015-2016 PoNY Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center, and a 2018-2019 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. She is currently writing two musical librettos and a feature film, and developing an original series for HBO based on her play, Queens.
Emily Mann (Playwright) a multi-award-winning Director and Playwright, Emily Mann is in her 22nd season as Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre. Under Ms. Mann’s leadership, McCarter was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. McCarter directing credits include Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics with Jimmy Smits (also on Broadway); the world premiere of Christopher Durang’s Miss Witherspoon with Kristine Nielsen (also off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons); Uncle Vanya with Amanda Plummer (also adapted); All Over with Rosemary Harris and Michael Learned (also off-Broadway at The Roundabout; 2003 Obie Award for Directing); The Cherry Orchard with Jane Alexander, John Glover, and Avery Brooks (also adapted); Three Sisters with Frances McDormand, Linda Hunt, and Mary Stuart Masterson; A Doll House with Cynthia Nixon; The Glass Menagerie with Shirley Knight; A Seagull in the Hamptons (an adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull) with Brian Murray and Maria Tucci; and Mrs. Warren’s Profession with Suzanne Bertish. Her plays include Execution of Justice (supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship; winner of Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson awards; nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Circle awards); Still Life (six Obie Awards); Greensboro (A Requiem); and Annulla, An Autobiography. Ms. Mann wrote and directed Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (nominated for Tonys in writing and direction, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards; winner of NAACP and Joseph Jefferson awards). For the Having Our Say screenplay, Ms. Mann won Peabody and Christopher Awards. A winner of the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and the Edward Albee Last Frontier Directing Award, she is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on its council. A collection of her plays, Testimonies: Four Plays, has been published by Theatre Communications Group, Inc. Her latest play, Mrs. Packard, was the recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award and was published by TCG in spring 2009. Most recently, Ms. Mann directed the world premieres of The Convert by Danai Gurira, Phaedra Backwards by Marina Carr, Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I (at McCarter and Playwrights Horizons), and Sarah Treem’s The How and the Why. This spring, Emily is scheduled to direct The Convert at Goodman Theatre in Chicago and CTG in Los Angeles. Emily’s adaptation of The House of Bernard Alba, which premiered at McCarter, was produced at The Almeida Theater in London this past winter. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Princeton University and was recently named the 2011 Person of the Year from the National Theatre Conference.
Kecia Lewis (Composer) is celebrating 36 years in the entertainment industry. She made her Broadway debut at 18 years old in the original company of Dreamgirls, directed by Michael Bennett. Her other Broadway credits include The Gospel at Colonus (with Morgan Freeman), Big River, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (standby for Nell Carter), Once on This Island (OBC), The Drowsy Chaperone (OBC), Chicago, Leap of Faith (OBC), Cinderella (as Marie/Fairy Godmother)and most recently Children of a Lesser God (directed by Kenny Leon). Off Broadway she has starred in the title role of Mother Courage, The Skin of Our Teeth (Obie Award), Dessa Rose at Lincoln Center (Drama Desk award nomination), and Marie and Rosetta (Lortel & Drama League nominations/ Obie Award winner ). Her television credits include Guest Star and recurring roles on Law & Order, Law & Order SVU (recurring), Madam Secretary, Royal Pains, Limitless, Conviction, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Blue Bloods, SMILF, The Blacklist (recurring), The Passage (recurring), Mad About You (recurring) and the Hulu series, Wu-Tang: An American Saga (recurring). As a vocalist Kecia has performed in Canada, Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Russia.
Mona Mansour’s (Playwright) play The Vagrant Trilogy was set to make its New York City debut in March 2020 at the Public Theater, directed by Mark Wing-Davey; the production was postponed due to Covid-19, and will resume at a future date. We Swim, We Talk, We Go To War will be presented by Geva Theatre in April 2021 (dir. Pirronne Yousefzadeh). It premiered at SF’s Golden Thread in 2018 (dir. Evren Odcikin). The Vagrant Trilogy was presented at Mosaic Theater in June 2018, (dir. Wing-Davey.) Of the trilogy: The Hour Of Feeling (dir. Wing-Davey) premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and a new Arabic translation was presented at NYU Abu Dhabi, as part of its Arab Voices Festival in 2016. Urge For Going: productions at the Public Theater (dir. Hal Brooks) and Golden Thread (dir. Odcikin). The Vagrant was commissioned by the Public and workshopped at the 2013 Sundance Theater Institute. The Way West: Labyrinth (dir. Mimi O’Donnell); Village Theater (dir. Christina Myatt); Steppenwolf (dir. Amy Morton); and Marin Theatre Company (dir. Hayley Finn). Other credits: Unseen, Gift Theater (dir. Maureen Payne-Hahner), In The Open, for Waterwell, directed by James Dean Palmer, and Across The Water, written for third-year MFAs at NYU (dir. Scott Illingworth). Mona was a member of the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group. With Tala Manassah she has written Falling Down The Stairs, an EST/Sloan commission. Their play Dressing is part Of Facing Our Truths: Short Plays About Trayvon, Race And Privilege, commissioned by the New Black Festival. TV: Queens Supreme, Dead Like Me. Commissions include Playwrights Horizons, Old Globe Theater, La Jolla Playhouse and Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s “American Revolutions.” 2012 Whiting Award. 2014 Middle East America Playwright Award, MacDowell Colony 2018, New Dramatists Class of 2020. Mona has written for an upcoming Apple TV show, and in 2019, formed a theater company, SOCIETY, with Scott Illingworth, Tim Nicolai and Erin Anderson.
Ellen McLaughlin (Playwright) has worked extensively in Regional, International and New York theater, both as an actor and as a playwright. Acting work includes originating the part of the Angel in Angels in America, playing the role in workshops and regional productions through its original Broadway run. Other favorite work includes the Homebody in Bart Sher’s production of Homebody/Kabul (Intiman, Seattle, WA), Pirate Jenny in A Threepenny Opera (Trinity Rep. Elliot Norton Award), Claire in Albee’s A Delicate Balance (Arena Stage, Yale Repertory Theater), Margie in Good People (George St. Theater, Seattle Rep.), and Nancy in Seascape (ACT, SF, CA.) Her plays have been produced Off-Broadway, regionally and internationally. She is the recipient of the Writer’s Award from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund as well as other honors, including the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting, and grants from the NEA. Plays and operas include, Tongue of a Bird, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Trojan Women, Infinity’s House, Helen, Oedipus, The Persians, Penelope, Ajax in Iraq, Pericles, Septimus and Clarissa, Blood Moon, and The Oresteia. Producers include The Public Theater, National Actors’ Theater, Classic Stage Co., New York Theater Workshop, The Guthrie, The Intiman, The Mark Taper Forum, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Actors’ Theater of Louisville, Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre, DC, Prototype, and The Almeida Theater in London. She has taught in several programs, including Yale School of Drama, Princeton and Bread Loaf School of English. She has taught playwriting at Barnard College since 1995.
Rehana Lew Mirza’s (Playwright) plays include: Hatefuck (Colt Coeur/WP; upcoming at Round House Theatre); A People’s Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now (Primary Stages Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation’s Women Playwrights Commission; AADA workshop production); Soldier X (Ma-Yi; Brooklyn College; NYSCA/Lark commission); Tomorrow, Inshallah (Living Room Theater, Kansas City; Storyworks/HuffPost commission); Neighborhood Watch (NNPN/InterAct commission) and Barriers (Desipina, Asian American Theater Company). With her husband Mike Lew, she was awarded the 2020 Kleban for most promising librettist. They also share a Mellon Foundation National Playwright residency administered in partnership with Howlround at Ma-Yi Theater, as well as a commission at La Jolla Playhouse for The Colonialism Project after previously being their 2018 artists-in-residence. They’ve co-written the book, in partnership with Sam Willmott, to the musical Bhangin’ It (2019 Richard Rodgers Award; upcoming productions at La Jolla Playhouse and McCarter Theater; previously developed at The Orchard Project, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and their 3R program, Goodspeed, and Project Springboard.) She founded the award-winning South Asian theater and film company, Desipina & Co, alongside her sister Rohi Mirza Pandya in 2001, where together they produced the popular Seven.11 series (seven, 11-minute plays all set in a convenience store.) Her short film Modern Day Arranged Marriage won the NBC ShortCuts audience award, and screened at “Just for Laughs” in Montreal before being acquired by LOGO/MTV. Her feature film, Hiding Divya, had a limited North American release and toured to colleges through a grant from the Asian Women’s Giving Circle. Additional honors: NYFA Fellow, Colt Coeur Company member, HBO Access Fellow, Lilly Award (Stacey Mindich “Go Write A Play”), Tofte Lake Emerging Writers Residency, E.S.T. Sloan commission, a John Golden Award, Leopold Schepp fellowship, Ma-Yi Writers Lab Member and Co-Director (2006-2016), Primary Stages Dorothy Strelsin Writers Group Member (2014-2017) and a TCG/New Georges Fellowship. MFA: Columbia University; BFA: NYU Tisch.
Liza Jessie Peterson (Playwright) Is an Artivist: an actress, playwright, poet, author and youth advocate who has been steadfast in her commitment to incarcerated populations both professionally and artistically for over two decades. Her one woman show, The Peculiar Patriot, premiered at The National Black Theater in Harlem for two separate runs and garnered rave reviews from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and a five star review in Time Out Ny. The Peculiar Patriot now tours nationally after being awarded a generous grant from Agnes Gund’s Prestigious Art For Justice Fund. During the early years of the play’s uncanny trajectory and true to her artivist nature, Liza performed The Peculiar Patriot in over 35 penitentiaries across the country in a self funded prison tour spanning the course of four years. Liza is author of All Day: A Year Of Love And Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids At Rikers Island (Hachette). She was featured in Ava Duvernay’s Emmy Award Winning Documentary The 13th (Netflix) and was a consultant on Bill Moyer’s documentary Rikers (Pbs). Also known for her exceptional poetic skills, Liza began her poetry career at The Nuyorican Poets Café and was a vital member of The Enclave Of Notable Poets who were part of the “Underground Slam Poetry” Movement. It was this electric group of artists that inspired Russell Simmons to bring “spoken word” to Hbo where Liza appeared on two episodes of Def Poetry. In addition to The Peculiar Patriot Liza has written several plays which received development support from The Lark, Syracuse Stage, The Mccarter Theater, Manhattan Theater Club and The Flynn Theater. Down The Rabbit Hole is currently in residency at The Flynn Theater in Vermont followed by Sistahgurls And The Squirrel in development at both The Lark and Manhattan Theater Club in Ny. As an actress Liza appeared in several feature films: Love The Hard Way (Costarring with Pam Grier and Adrien Brody), Spike Lee’s, Bamboozled, K. Shalini’s, A Drop Of Life, and Jamie Catto’s, What About Me. She can be seen in an upcoming web series, A Luv Tale produced by Sidra Smith and Directed by Kay Oyegun (This Is Us, Blackish).
Ren Dara Santiago (Playwright) is a Fila-Rican playwright from Harlem. She is the TOW Foundation 2020 playwright-in-residence at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, who will World Premiere The Siblings Play. The Gods Play will be part of the Bushwick Starr Reading Series in March 2020. Something in the Balete Tree, a 2019 Finalist in the National Playwrights Conference, was written with the support of The Lark’s Playwrights Week 2020, Gingold Theatrical Group, Clubbed Thumb, and SPACE on Ryder Farm. The Siblings Play has had development at The Cherry Lane Theatre (Mentor Project), Labyrinth Theater, MCC Theater, and Ojai Playwrights Conference. She is a teaching artist with The National Theater Institute, The Young Women’s Leadership School, and the Playwriting Lab at MCC Youth Company. She is a member of Rising Phoenix Rep; founding member & former Artistic Producer of Middle Voice at Rattlestick; & an eternal member of The Baldwin Project by Lucy Thurber. Ren is the inaugural recipient of Rising Phoenix Rep’s Cornelia Street American Playwriting Award.
Caridad Svich (Playwright) received the 2012 OBIE for Lifetime Achievement, 2011 American Theatre Critics Association Primus Prize for The House of the Spirits, based on Isabel Allende’s novel, and NNPN rolling world premieres for RED BIKE and Guapa. Her works in English and Spanish have been produced internationally. In addition to the plays mentioned, other key plays in her repertoire include 12 Ophelias, Iphigenia Crash Land Falls, and The Way of Water. A significant body of her work focuses on human and environmental rights and the ‘fragile shores’ upon which many of us live. She also sustains a parallel career as a theatrical translator, chiefly known for her translations of the plays of Federico Garcia Lorca; she has also adapted for the stage works by Julia Alvarez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Gabriel Garcia Marquez; she is founder of NoPassport theatre alliance and press, and is associate editor of Contemporary Theatre Review for Routledge UK. She is published by TCG, Methuen Drama, and Intellect UK, among others. Upcoming premieres: Town Hall at Red Tape Theatre in Chicago, Ushuaia Blue at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, and Eva Luna at Repertorio Espanol. Her most recent book is on Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Routledge 4th Wall Series). Her first opera (as librettist) Bernarda Alba will premiere with Cleveland Opera Theatre, and her first independent feature film Fugitive Dreams, based on her play, is scheduled for a late 2021 release. The film stars April Matthis, Scott Shepard, Robbie Tann, O-Lan Jones and David Patrick Kelly, and is directed by Jason Neulander. She is an alumna playwright of New Dramatists, member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, and an affiliated artist with The Lark, New Georges and Woodshed Collective.
Andrea Thome (Playwright) is a Chilean/Costa Rican-American playwright. Her most recent play Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes) received its world premiere by En Garde Arts in February 2020. Her play Pinkolandia received the Lark Play Development Center’s Launching New Plays fellowship and a rolling world premiere at INTAR, Austin’s Salvage Vanguard Theater, Two River Theater (NJ), and 16th Street Theater (Chicago). For the Public Theater’s Public Works, Thome created Troy with the ACTivate Ensemble. Her plays include Undone (Queens College, Victory Gardens, Lark), Worm Girl (Cherry Red Productions) and her play translations have been produced by the Public, CTG, La Jolla Playhouse and others. Thome co-directs FULANA, an all-Latina satire collective, has directed the Lark’s Mexico-U.S. Playwright Exchange Program since 2006, and teaches theater at SUNY Purchase. Residencies include Blue Mountain Center, MacDowell, SPACE on Ryder Farm and Keen Company. She was a New Dramatists resident from 2009-2016.
Lucy Thurber (Playwright) is the author of twelve plays: Where We’re Born, Ashville, Scarcity, Killers and Other Family, Stay, Bottom of The World, Monstrosity, Dillingham City, The Locus, Perry Street, The Insurgents and Transfers. Transfers was part of The New York Stage and Film 2016 Powerhouse Season. Lucy is part of COMMUNITY WORKS at Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she wrote Orpheus in the Berkshires and Once Upon a Time in The Berkshires and Taiga in The Berkshires. The Insurgents was produced at Labyrinth Theater Company and Contemporary American Theater Festival. Her five play cycle The Hill Town Plays was produced Off Broadway by Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater in-conjunction with The Cherry Lane Theater, The Axis Theater and The New Ohio Theatre. Lucy’s theatrical homes are Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater, The Atlantic Theater, Labyrinth Theater, New Dramatists and The Lark where they have produced and supported her. Lucy wrote the text for QUIXOTE, conceived and directed by Lear deBessonet, a site-specific performance with the Psalters made for and with The Broad Street Community, also with Lear deBessonet and produced by 13P, Monstrosity. Lucy is published by Dramatists Play Service. She is an alumni of New Dramatists, A member of 13P, Labyrinth Theater Company, Rising Phoenix Rep and New Neighborhood. She got to spend time with Sundance Theatre at UCROSS in Wyoming. Lucy has been commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, The Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Houses on The Moon, Yale Rep. Williamstown Theatre Festival and A.C.T. and Steppenwolf Theatre. She is the recipient of Manhattan Theatre Club Playwriting Fellowship, the first Gary Bonasorte Memorial Prize for Playwriting, a proud recipient of a LILLY AWARD, an OBIE Award for The Hill Town Plays and The Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwriting Award. She also writes for TV and Film.