Playwright Jessica Wu

The Tank (Meghan Finn and Rosalind Grush, Artistic Directors) will present their third annual Lady Fest, featuring new work by some of the most exciting lady-identified artists out there, in celebration of womxnhood and the female voice, in all its glory. Lady Fest 2019 will run August 6-28 in both the 56-seat and 98-seat theaters at The Tank (312 West 36th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues). Tickets ($0-$25) may be purchased in advance at



Written by Katelynn Kenney 

August 8, 9 & 11 @ 7pm, August 10 @ 3pm $20

Tornkid just wants to belong: at school, at home, in their own skin. So what does Tornkid do? Tear themselves in two. Tricky thing is, Tornkid’s other half runs away with their voice, into a mythical land both achingly familiar and unfamiliar. This play by Katelynn Kenney draws on the power of Southeast Asian and Pacific Indigenous mythology to take the audience on an elemental journey to literally find oneself. Under the direction of Cara Hinh and Donna Ibale, with puppetry created by Jess Rassp, and masks created by Tara Cariaso, Tornkid promises to be a feast for the senses and an exploration into a world rarely seen on the American stage.


Created & Hosted by Marcela Onyango, Directed by Michelle Francesca

Friday, August 9 @ 7pm $12

Dystopia is a sketch show that creates dystopian universes where our political, economic or social nightmares have come to reality in order to get the audience wondering could this really happen here? The host Marcela Onyango will interview activists at the end of the show to ask them whether the dystopias depicted in the show are feasible and if there is anything that can be done to stop them.  

One Apple a Day 

Written and performed by Elise B.

Tuesday, August 13 @ 7pm $7

You are invited to a journey, somewhere in the Solar System, in a place with enough water for life, enough life for apples, enough apples for a theatre show. Their names are Adélaïde, Ricarda, Jeanne-Geneviève, and Professor I. They have happened into this place, and they are trying to understand. They are colorful, shaky, structured, hungry, poetic, inefficient, strong, on the edge… present. They need you. To become alive.

Sam Shaber: Life, Death, and Duran Duran

Co-Written and Directed by Lynn Ferguson & Sam Shaber

August 13, 17 & 23 @ 7pm, Saturday, August 24 @ 9:30pm 

Life has three guarantees: you’re born, you die, and if your name is Rio, you dance on the sand. In this hour-long musical storytelling show, indie rocker and Moth Mainstage storyteller Sam Shaber takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster of laughter, tears, and catharsis, from her obsessive, starstruck adolescence to the sobering losses of adulthood, to a triumphant realization about the power of those we love.

Almost Maimed

Written by Rebecca Kane, Directed by Taylor Thomson

Tuesday, August 13 @ 9:30pm $5

In this gory parody, audiences experience modern love presented in ways they’ve never seen before, with body parts they’ve never expected they would see on stage. Between scenes featuring the most literal unhealthy attachments you’ve ever seen, those struggling with love will never feel more related to than they will sitting in the front row of Almost Maimed— and they might also feel a splatter or two. 

The Plague

Written by Rachel Carnes

Wednesday, August 14 @ 7pm & Thursday, August 15 @ 9:30pm $15

A sly send-up of ‘self-actualized’ culture disguises much darker themes in this hilarious play for five women, set in a small-town dance studio. With zombies.

Mindful Fruit

Written by Kalli Siringas

Wednesday, August 14 @ 9:30pm $12

A meditation on the healing powers of subtropical fruit. 

Sylacauga, Alabama

Written by Annie Levy

Friday, August 16 @ 7pm & Saturday, August 17 @ 3pm $10

Sylacauga, AL: On November 30th, 1954, Ann Hodges, a rural woman from an insulated world, is napping on her couch.  Suddenly, something crashes through her roof and hits her just below her stomach: A meteorite. This moment of impact makes Ann the only person to ever be struck by a meteorite and live to tell the tale. The virtually unknown story of what happened to Ann Hodges and her meteorite (the media circus, the legal battles for ownership, the costs of sudden and unwanted fame) are explored in this contemporary take on a local, global and celestial tragedy of improbable cataclysms and their sudden insignificance.   

Party Animal

Written & Performed by Becca Baberaggi, Directed by Michael Newman

Friday, August 16 @ 9:30pm $5

Mental illnesses lie to you and make you believe things that aren’t real but for Becca, it’s just made her REALLY bad at parties. Come join her as she tells some of her favorite stories about how parties are bad, why parties are bad, and how she was probably the reason why. 

You, Me, I, We

Book, Music and Lyrics by Jessica Wu

Saturday, August 17 @ 7pm $5 (Pre-sale only)

YOU, ME, I, WE is an exploration of the crazy and chaotic way our minds work – the voices that direct our everyday actions, the ones that knock us down with harsh thoughts and lift us back up with a song. It’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch meets Pixar’s Inside Out with a touch of Twyla Tharp Dance Theatre. Take a journey inside the beautifully turbulent mind of Yu-Mei Wei.

Cooking with Kathryn

Created by Kate Owens, Directed by Deby Xiadani

Saturday, August 17 @ 9:30pm $12

COOKING WITH KATHRYN, an award-winning dark comedy, comes to LADYFEST! Kate Owens plays a down home, liquored-up southern belle as she stumbles her way to her own birthday party with more wine in her veins than Jesus! 

Runaway Princess: A Hopeful Tale of Heroin, Hooking, and Happiness

Written & Performed by Mary Goggin

Sunday, August 18 & Saturday, August 24 @ 4:30 $20

One woman’s dark comic journey to the other side of the overpass. Mary Goggin shares stories of sex, drugs, and Irish Catholicism, laced with characters based on her experiences as a former professional call girl. As a massive reaction to sexual repression, Mary takes us from the Irish famine to ’70s pimps to joy!

The Valkyries

Written by Jessica Owens

August 18, 19 & 20 @ 7:30pm $15

In The Valkyries the tenuous strands of connection between three women in an all-female doomsday cult start to unravel—revealing how women deal with trauma, what lengths they are willing to go to, what traumas they’re willing to inflict on others, and what portion of their own autonomy they are willing to give up, to feel they’ve regained some semblance of power.


Written by Pat Candaras

Monday, August 19 @ 7pm $12

Pat Candaras is a writer, stand-up comic and storyteller. Survivor of children, their mates and grandchildren. Oh!  And, cancer. 

Believe Me

Written by Flynn Osman, Directed by Tessa Welsch

Tuesday, August 20 & Wednesday, August 21 @ 7pm, $10 Students/$15 General

At 2am in a muggy laundromat, the Miller sisters find themselves alone besides the erratic muffles of a baby monitor. As the humidity rises, and the muffles become louder, Betty and Faith’s patience grows thin, spiraling them into ultimate sibling rivalry.   

The Mess

Tuesday, August 20 @ 9:30pm $7

With Jesse Roth, Directed by Kathleen Kennedy

The Mess with Jesse Roth is a solo variety show, the likes of which have never been seen before. It’s like that metaphor, “throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks” but with comedy. 



Wednesday, August 21 & Friday, August 23 @ 7pm $20

Smashworks Dance presents a work-in-progress excerpt from FEMPIRE — a utopian world run by unharnessed and uninhibited women. An evening length performance of episodic dances, FEMPIREintroduces various women characters of strength and uncensored expressions of truth, playfully pushing against gender normative stereotypes through feminist camp. Featuring choreography by Ashley McQueen in collaboration with Smashworks Dance, and introducing newest performer Hope Salas in collaboration with Justin Cimino, FEMPIRE fuses dance performance with prop-driven physical theatre to present a culmination of our current feminist fight — loud, uncensored, and unafraid. 

Bedtime Plays

Thursday, August 22 @ 9:30 $10  

Everything We Need To Talk About Before We Talk About Sex 

Written by Tatiana Kouguell-Hoell 

Sara wants to, she really does, but if only she could say what she’s thinking out loud. Everything We Need To Talk About Before We Talk About Sex asks the question: what do you have to overcome within yourself to be intimate with another person?  

Teeth written by Ciara Ni Chuirc 

Aaron wants Colleen to tell him what she wants – but talking about it is the opposite of what she wants. Teeth is a darkly comedic play about the difficulties we encounter in talking about sex, and women’s anxieties about asking for what they want in the bedroom.

Bury Me in My Leggings

Written by Scarlet Grace McCarthy, Directed by Margaret Baughman

Thursday, August 22 @ 4pm $15

It’s June 2007. Paris Hilton is in jail and the iPhone launches in just a few days. At the mall, employees at an upscale athleisure store find out what happens when your work bestie turns out to be a total murderer. 

Not a Pipeline Problem: 5, 10-minute plays written and directed by badass womxn

Created by Erin Reynolds

Thursday, August 22 @ 4pm $10

Not a Pipeline Problem: 5, 10-minute plays written and directed by badass womxn is a celebration of femme creative power. Join these five playwrights for an afternoon of questioning… “What’s really the problem? Cause girl, it ain’t us”.

Untitled Show about OCD

Created by Olivia Levine

Thursday, August 22 @ 7pm $18

Olivia Levine’s untitled one woman show explores her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the ways in which it has engaged specifically with her sexuality and relationships over the course of her life. Combining elements of standup comedy, movement, character work, audience interaction and more, Olivia asks herself and her audience to come face to face with her obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, regardless of how uncomfortable and personal a task that can sometimes be. 


Produced by Francesca Pazniokas

Thursday, August 22 @ 7pm $15

An evening of short films by female-identifying forces of nature. Showcasing work by emerging NYC-based filmmakers, these short films are written, directed, and staring all women.


Co-Created by Michael Murray and Tanya Chattman

Saturday, August 24 @ 9:30pm $15

Rachael Murray, Tanya Chattman, and Naked Theatre Company present #MomVlogLyfe, a deep dive down the YouTube rabbit hole of mom vloggers. Follow a gaggle of mom vloggers in their quest to organize their households and entertain their adoring fans. The Mom Vlogger is a new kind of Mom: She brings home the bacon, fries it up in a pan, and then gets 100,000 viewers to watch that bacon fry. Between checking off items on her endless to-do list and creating high-quality content, she keeps all the plates spinning in style. It’s hard out here for a mom, so she might as well monetize, right? Grocery hauls, unboxings, collabs, sponsored content, and parenting too: This is #MomVlogLyfe.

No Place

Written & Directed by Andrea Ang, Created by Square One Collective

Sunday, August 25 @ 2pm & 7pm $10

Three people play a game… in 2075. In a world where physical existence seems imminently impossible, a political exile, a former radical and a climate refugee go in search of the promised land; a virtual utopia. Alliances are made and broken as personal visions cross and collide in a social experiment that begins to chip away at individual identities. No Place examines the relationships between citizenship, nationhood and personhood and asks What happens to a person when they undertake an extreme journey of migration?

The Surrogate

Written by Rachel Main

Sunday, August 25 @ 2pm

The Surrogate is an all-female-identified play about a woman, Sophia, who wants a baby but can’t have one and the younger woman, Cece, who is going to carry it for her – for a price. As Sophia slowly becomes a surrogate Mother-figure to Cece herself, the blooming of this unexpected bond comes crashing down when there is a complication in the pregnancy, and Sophia has to make a choice that could cost her not only Cece’s trust, but her marriage to her wife, Kit. The play is a meditation on the commercial value placed on the bodies of low-income and marginalized women in our society. It is also an exploration of biological impulses in the LGBTQ+ community and, at its core, a grieving play about four women who are waiting for a baby that may never arrive.


Featuring Be by Anaïs Maviel and Late Duck by Megan Schubert

Sunday, August 25 @ 4:30pm $20

Anaïs Maviel, Megan Schubert, Gelsey Bell and Yoon Sun Choi perform vocal quartets Be and Late Duck written by Anaïs Maviel and Megan Schubert

I Love Avocado Toast

Written by Catherine Weingarten, Directed by Emily Penick

Sunday, August 25 @ 4:30pm $5

When Cassie joins the all-female exclusive social club, The Hive, she’s ready for her boring female life to become way more glam and important! But in this new ultra-hip feminist co-working space-things soon start to get weird! In this satirical new play by Catherine Weingarten, get ready to dive into the world of avocado toast obsession, feminine bonding and so many women-led startups! The play is inspired by Catherine’s real-life experience of joining an all-female exclusive social club in NYC and being bad at it.

Maudie, the Mortician

A Live Performance of a New TV Pilot by Ashley Jacobson, Directed by Aliza Shane

Monday, August 26 @ 7pm $15

After feeling unappreciated at her job at Elsa’s Beauty Salon, Maudie Stevens resolves to finally find a job worthy of her unique talents and point of view. Encouraged by her loud and loving Irish Catholic family in New Jersey, Maudie sets her sights on the big city. But when it’s made clear that there just isn’t a space for someone like her in the elite world of New York City’s cosmetologists, Maudie decides to take the job offered by her funeral director brother as the assistant to his new (handsome) mortician, styling the dead bodies for their viewings.


Written & Performed by Taji Senior, Directed by Matrex Kilgore

Tuesday, August 27 @ 7pm $15

devour. is a theatrical contemplation of the ways in which desire and desirability are further complicated by blackness. What does it mean to long for love while inhabiting a body you’ve taught to fear and hate? At its core, devour. is a synthesis of lived experiences, literature, academic research and activist movements that spans centuries and continents, from the study of the iconography of black bodies in nineteenth-century European art, such as Edwin Long’s The Babylonian Marriage Market and Édouard Manet’s Olympia to the contemplative examination of black womanhood in the poetry of June Jordan, Lucille Clifton and Pat Parker.  devour., deeply excavates facets of the Black American female experience and returns to the surface through movement, poetry, myth and theatrical magic.

With Your Little Claws

Written by Iliria Osum, Performed by Sarah Means

Tuesday, August 27 & Wednesday, August 28 @ 7pm $25

A reimagining of Nabokov’s Lolita as a dark comedienne in charge of her own surreal narrative as an adult. Calling herself Dolly, she “resurrects” herself on stage, examines her life with skepticism and gallows humor, and works to puncture her documented legacy. 

Tell Me What I Want

Written by Gina Stevensen

Wednesday, August 28 @ 7pm $15

When a middle school health teacher gets fired after talking about masturbation with her students, she creates a sex ed class for the repressed women of her town. Part play, part interactive experience, TELL ME WHAT I WANT creates a space to address the shame surrounding women’s bodies.


Already Late Enough 

Written by Kristin Renn Parker

Sunday, August 18 @ 1pm FREE

Join us for a reading of Already Late Enough-a brand new play by Kristin Renn Parker- Already Late Enough is a magical realism play about, a woman searching for the last thing she’s left in her childhood home, a Great Grandmother Clock, unused organic tampons, aggressive Thank You Notes, and literal monsters at Christmas. It rawly explores the questions: can you actually sever yourself completely from your family? What’s the cost of leaving your family behind? What’s the cost of staying? And what makes a family anyway? 


Written by Larissa Krusei

Friday, August 23 @ 4pm $5

Beth and Eva haven’t been in the professional world long but they already know that corporate life isn’t for them. When their crowdfunding campaign successfully reaches their financing goal, their dream of starting their own company becomes a reality. Gathering some of their other lady friends, they jump into the more unconventional life of running a startup, but they quickly discover that there is a steep learning curve to running your own business. 

Cameron of Bergen Street

Created by Jordan Coats

Saturday, August 24 @ 2pm $5

There’s only one thing Cameron wants more than to break into the New York comedy scene, and that’s to win the heart of her newly-resurfaced, childhood friend Roxanne. But when Roxanne recruits Cameron’s help to catch the eye of Midwestern, comedy newby (and boy!) Christian, Cam suddenly finds herself the orchestrator of their romance. Set in the 1990s, this rom/com retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac explores gender & sexuality, artistic integrity, and what it really means to fall in love. Jordan Coats is honored to join LadyFest with this reading-style production of her new play.

Dance Moms

Written by Ying Ying Li

Saturday, August 24 @ 2:30pm FREE

Dance Moms is about a group of suburban moms who are in the same dance class. They love to dance and take it very seriously… maybe too seriously.


Written by Jan Rosenberg, Directed by Jessica O’Hara-Baker

Sunday, August 25 @ 7pm FREE

A storm of biblical proportions, and a woman who won’t stop bleeding. GUSHER! is an unapologetic play about what happens when women are allowed to be messy.

How we love / f*ck

Written by Lillian Isabella

Monday, August 26 @ 7pm FREE

How We Love/F*ck, a new play from powerhouse actor/writer Lillian Isabella, is a sex-positive theatre piece in response to the #MeToo movement where she looks to celebrate female sexuality, and how fun sex can be. The play is inspired by documentary-style interviews with a tribe of 28 diverse female-identifying individuals, ranging from 25 to 89 years old. Through candid monologues created from the interviews, Lillian begins to discover her own sexual agency, the healing power of ecstatic experience, and the importance of sharing this new understanding with the world.

The Tank is a non-profit arts presenter and producer. Our mission is to remove economic barriers from the creation of new work for artists launching their careers and experimenting within their art form, and to do so in an environment that is inclusive and accessible. We serve over 2,000 artists every year in over 800 performances, and work across all disciplines, including theater, comedy, dance, film, music, puppetry, and storytelling. The heart of our services is providing free performance space in our two-stage theater complex Manhattan, and we also offer a suite of other services such as free rehearsal space, promotional support, artist fees, and much more. We support work at all phases of development, from readings and residencies to fully-produced world premieres. We keep ticket prices affordable and view our work as democratic, opening up both the creation and attendance of the arts to all.

Recent Tank-produced work includes Drama Desk-nominated productions Ada/Ava (2016), youarenowhere (2016), The Paper Hat Game (2017), the ephemera trilogy (2017), and The Hunger Artist (2018), as well as New York Times Critics’ Picks The Offending Gesture by Mac Wellman, directed by Meghan Finn (2016) and Red Emma & The Mad Monk by Alexis Roblan, directed by Katie Lindsay (2018).  

Amina Henry & Rent Party

Name: Amina Henry

Tell us about you. 

I’m a writer and an educator and a fledgling runner. Like, I joined a running group. At the moment, I’m addicted to the tv shows House Hunters and Intervention.

Tell us about your current project? 

Rent Party is a children’s show, or show for families, that I wrote with puppet theater company Drama of Works. Rent parties were what they sound like – parties thrown where people would pay a little fee for musical entertainment and refreshments to help renters pay their rent. They were popular in Harlem for a time in the early 1900s. The play follows a group of children in Harlem as they help prepare for the party their mothers are throwing that night. The play addresses real issues of poverty and racism, but does so in an accessible way. The puppet work is magic as are the performers.

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production? 

Rent Party is being performed at The Tank, July 12-21, Fri-Sun. I think The Tank’s a good fit for the show because The Tank embraces diversity and experimentation. It’s also close to several subway lines making it very accessible!

What’s next for you? 

In October, my play The Johnsons goes up at JACK. It’s my real estate play, following a family as it deals with a foreclosure.

What is the name of the last show you saw? 


Any advice for your peers?

Keep doing your work, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

Show Info:

When: July 12-21

Venue: The Tank

Tickets: $18/Adults $12 18 and under


Raquel Cion & Friends: A Very Special Birthday Concert @RaquelCion

Photo by Karl Giant

Name: Raquel Cion

Tell us about you. 

Raquel Cion’s recent projects include Me & Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie, nominated for a 2015 Broadway World Cabaret Award “Best Alt Cabaret.” Productions: Philly Love’s Bowie Week, 2019, Provincetown’s Afterglow Festival; in NYC, Pangea; The Slipper Room; The PIT Loft; Judson Memorial Church. Alas, The Nymphs BAM Next Wave; Gilding the Lonely, Joe’s Pub; Cou-Cou Bijoux Pour Vous Galapagos Art Space, Dixon Place; Rationality: A Virtual Performance and Memoir LMCC Swing Space; Directorial credits include STRAYS winner of the 2016 New York Innovative Theatre Award for “Outstanding Original Short Script” and published in THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT PLAYS, 2015-2016 by Applause Books in 2017, The Brick Theater, Ars Nova’s ANT Fest and Showgasm; SONS Ars Nova’s Showgasm; Darkling IRT Theater, CATCH SERIES; HIP IRT Theater; On a Lonely Road…Travelin’ with Joni, The Duplex. She is a founding member of NYC’s Eat a Radish Productions and performs with the Obie Award winning The Secret City.

Tell us about your current project? 

I’m just shy of a week away from my 50th birthday. It’s a daunting number, though I’m glad that I’m gonna see it! Since I’m basically all Bowie all the time I thought, ‘why not do what he did for fifty?’ Thus Raquel Cion & Friends: A Very Special Birthday Concert where we’ll be recreating and paying homage to David Bowie & Friends: A Very Special Birthday Concert his sold out 1997 50th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden for charity. We have an incredible band, fabulous legendary downtown guest singers and have chosen the night’s proceeds to benefit NARAL Pro-Choice! After the concert we’ll ‘let all the children boogie’ with a custom Party Time Playlist.’ Come ‘get partified’ with us!

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production? 

My show Me & Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie has seen many incarnations since its inception in 2015. We’ve had three very successful runs of the show at Pangea in 2018/2019. Pangea is a gem in every way. As The New York Times wrote it is “a bohemian oasis not unlike the fabled Max’s Kansas City from days gone by.” It feels like the NY I dreamed of and ran to in the mid-eighties. When I told them what I wanted to do for Raquel Cion & Friends: A Very Special Birthday Concert even with a plethora of unanswered logistical and technical questions they were immediately on board. I couldn’t ask for a better place for this concert. It’s home.Oh, and all those questions have been answered. It is live performance though, so, who knows what might happen? Oh, and everyone gets cake!

What’s next for you? 

Me & Mr. Jones is returning to Philadelphia in January for Philly Loves Bowie Week, 2020. We’re working on taking it to other cities as well. Maybe even hopping the pond! I’m very slowly writing a new show with the working title, “Extragen” about dealing with breast cancer. As I said before, I’m glad I’m seeing 50.

What is the name of the last show you saw? 

I saw David Cale’s “We’re Only Alive for a Short Amount of Time” at The Public. An extraordinary piece of theater! David will be joining us for a song on the 19th and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Any advice for your peers?

I’m going to go with Bowie’s words here, “Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been.”

Show Info

When: July 19, 2019, Doors 7pm / Show 8pm

Venue: Pangea, 178 2nd Ave, New York City

TICKETS: Cabaret Seating for $35 includes reserved seating and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Bar/Restaurant Seating for $15 where the concert’s “Sound & Vision” will be fed live. Both ticket options offer the restaurant’s full menu and cash bar available for purchase throughout the event. Delicious, stylish and spectacular birthday cake for all! Tickets and additional info available

RAQUEL CION, described by the New York Times as “half witch… half cabaret performer” and by TONY as an “alt cabaret siren” takes the stage on her birthday to honor the artistry of David Bowie and the community of multi-talented friends who fill her heart with love. Jeremy Bass / Guitar & Vocals Genevieve Chapin / Bass Michael Ryan Morales / Drums Karl Saint Lucy / Piano, Keyboards & Vocals DM Salsberg / Vocals Zac Selissen / Guitar Special appearances by Micah Bucey, Rembert Block, David Cale, Amanda Duarte, Joe Hurley, Amy Priya Santos, Dylan Sorenson, Tony Torn, and more! Karl Saint Lucy / Musical Direction Tzipora Reman / Stage Management David Quinn / Couture Miranti / Rogue Pastry Chef

Miranda Haymon & In the Penal Colony

Jamar Brathwaite, David Glover, and Dhari Noel

Name: Miranda Haymon

Tell us about you. 

I am a queer black woman working as a director, writer and deviser of performance. I am a cultural anthropologist working in the theater—using research, lived experiences, palpable, recognizable aspects of the human condition and suffering to create my work. My work is imaginative, intuitively political and bold. I create a combination of sonic, physical and visual languages to drive the work forward, focusing on embodied storytelling from which the audience can extract meaning from. I run my rehearsal room with courage in experimentation, an attention to detail, and a larger awareness of the bigger picture, in how the story is getting told, how the representation is being received, and what the impact of the work can and should be. I involve my actors and collaborators in every step of this aggressive yet guided experimentation. My work is literary, not literal; viewers shouldn’t expect to see literal references. I show recognizable gestures and movements, but defamiliarize them over the course of the performance. The meaning of my work is not fixed as in an essay or a book. My approach allows for my work to hold more than one meaning, to be encyclopedic, poetic, metaphoric. While the movement may look abstract, I am not interested in cold abstraction, emptied of meaning, but instead an electric one, pregnant with allusions. Audiences can and should draw their own conclusions, with the hope that everyone views the work through their personal experience, morals, biases and privileges. I believe my audiences derive meanings more profound that they then have ownership over, instead of me spoon-feeding meaning to them. My work extends the praxis of Boal and Brecht by involving the audience in their own complicity. I am not afraid to leave the audience with more to chew on after the performance is over. I am not interested in making things clean or easily digestible.

Tell us about your current project? 

“In the Penal Colony”, adapted from Franz Kafka’s short story of the same name, investigates the performance of power, patriarchy, and punishment. Three black men convene on an unnamed penal colony and challenge the presumptions of the worth of a human body, asking what it means for black male bodies to exist: in the media, when observed, when consumed, when punished. “In the Penal Colony” attempts to dramatize the physical plight of the black male body using dance, music, and sound to weave together the history of its corporeality. We focus the fulcrum of the narrative on the original story: a condemned prisoner on an unnamed penal colony, without knowledge of his own judgment. Gradually he discovers it through an elaborate torture and execution machine that carves the sentence of the condemned on his skin before letting him die. The adaptation of this short story asks, “What judgments have black men been forced to learn on their own body?” We add to Kafka’s bizarre, bureaucratic original text with physical gestures that are directly related to how we’ve seen black male bodies used, consumed, presented, and punished in our history books and in the media: on chain gangs, as apes, as professional athletes, as slaves. We draw a parallel between Kafka’s unnamed, fictitious penal colony and the history of spectatorship surrounding its machine to our own American history of spectatorship and pleasure in witnessing black men at their most physical extremes, whether it’s on the court, in the prison yard, or in the cotton fields. The adaptation brings blackness, masculinity, punishment, justice, performance, and the patriarchy into dialogue. “In the Penal Colony” is a reclamation for the black artists involved in its creation. We, the black creators and performers, repurpose a story written by a white man in 1914 to tell a portion of our own history, spanning from 1619 when our first ancestor stepped off the boat to now, when a football player takes a knee during the National Anthem. We are inserting ourselves into a story that was not made for us, carving out a space for our narratives to come to the forefront.

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production? 

We are performing our show at Next Door @ NYTW. As an incoming 2050 Directing Fellow at the Workshop, I consider it to be one of my artistic homes. To have the opportunity to showcase a work that is so near and dear to my heart, as well as is exactly the kind of work I want to be making feels like a perfect unison between fate and resources. Additionally, Next Door creates a space for artists that are producing their own work, which is essential to the NYC theatre landscape, so I am proud to be part of that community.

What’s next for you? 

This fall I am spending time writing as a 2019 SPACE on Ryder Farm Creative Resident and I will be directing WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT… by Jackie Sibblies-Drury at Sarah Lawrence College. In 2020, I will be directing the world premiere of Dave Harris’s EXCEPTION TO THE RULE at the Roundabout Underground.

What is the name of the last show you saw? 

A Strange Loop.

Any advice for your peers?

“Treat your career like a garden—some seeds won’t grow until much later in the season and others you water and they sprout right away! Tend to your garden in such a way that you always have one thing ready to harvest, one thing you just watered and are waiting to see how it turns out, and some seeds that require a lot of care but might not bloom for a long, long time. Grow where you are planted.”

Show Info:

When: July 11-28

Where: Next Door at New York Theatre Worshop at 79 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003,

Tickets: General Admission starting at $35


Meet Richarda Abrams and First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune @dramasmith

Name: Richarda Abrams

Tell us about you. 

Richarda is a two-time AUDELCO Viv Award Winner for Excellence in Black Theatre and she received the Al Jolson Award for Academic Excellence at her alma mater New York University, Tisch School of the Arts.  She won the United Solo Theatre Festival’s: Best Educational Show Award for First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune. Credits include: GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (Ivoryton Playhouse),   FIRST BY FAITH: THE LIFE OF MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE by Richarda Abrams (United Solo Theatre Festival) director Dina Vovsi, 365 DAYS/365 PLAYS FINALE (Public Theatre),  CONTRIBUTION (2nd Stage), LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT director Estelle Parsons (LaMaMa), ASCENSION (NY Fringe Festival) (Cherry Lane),  FEAR ITSELF (Crossroads Theatre Co.), VAGINA MONOLOGUES (HERE), Yara Arts Group’s BLIND SIGHT (UKRAINE), INSURRECTION/BOOTY CANDY director Robert O’Hara, THE COST director Barbara Montgomery (LaMaMa), Erik Ehn’s CLOVER  (LaMaMa), HOMELESS AND HOW WE GOT THAT WAY by Dan McCormick.  SHERRI (LIFETIME), OREO’s WITH ATTITUDE (SHOWTIME), COSBY (CBS), NOISES IN THE DARK (SESAME ST.) & THE RIVERSIDE BENCH.  CD SONG FOR ALL written with her father the late pianist, composer, visionary, Muhal Richard Abrams,  co-founder of the Association For The Advancement of Creative Musicians.   Muhal Richard Abrams’ Ensemble at Roulette NYC.  Amina Claudine Myers’ Voice Ensemble USA & SONS D’HIVER (FRANCE).  Memberships include:  AEA, SAG-AFTRA, The Actors Studio, Association For The Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), League of Professional Theatre Women and New York Women In Film and Television.   ​ Richarda received a B.F.A. with Honors in acting from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and received an M.A. in Educational Theatre from New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development traveling in the abroad program studying Drama and Theatre in Education from the University of Leeds, Bretton Hall College (ENGLAND).

Tell us about your current project? 

First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune is written and performed by Richarda Abrams. I developed and workshopped First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune over a six-year period at New Federal Theatre’s Playwright’s Workshop, League of Professional Theatre Women’s Julia’s Reading Room, and at New York City’s Actors Studio. Debuting at the 2018 United Solo Theatre Festival winning the Best Educational Show Award and rave reviews. This show explores Mary McLeod Bethune’s personal journey from an uneducated child to a world-renowned educator, humanitarian, civil rights activist, stateswoman and philanthropist. By using storytelling, song, and humor I transcend time and gender, as Mary returns to earth to share one last lesson.

Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production? 

The West End Theatre at The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew 263 West 86th St., 2nd Floor NYC. This is where I did the workshop presentation last year and it is like returning home for this run. The staff at The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew are all so very positive and encouraging.

What’s next for you? 

I was invited to perform my show again at the 30th Anniversary of the National Black Theatre Festival, Winston Salem, NC, August 1-3, 2019 where two of my shows are already SOLD OUT. Then I was invited to return to the 10th Anniversary of the United Solo Theatre Festival at Theatre Row in NYC, September 26, 2019 in their best of the best of solo theatre category where I won the Best Educational Show Award in 2018. Then I have curated a Women’s History Solo Series in 2020 at the 14th Street Y in NYC, where I am performing my show again.

What is the name of the last show you saw? 

Ain’t Too Proud by Dominique Morisseau

Any advice for your peers?

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. – Goethe Begin it now. – Richarda Abrams

Show Information

Dates: June 28, 2019—July 21, 2019

Venue: The West End Theatre at The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew 263 West 86th St., 2nd Floor NYC

Tickets: General Admission: $25.00 Seniors/Students: $14.00


In the Penal Colony Opens 7/18 at Fourth Street Theatre

The Hodgepodge Group and producer Lucy Powis will present Miranda Haymon’s In the Penal Colony at NYTW’s Fourth Street Theatre (79 East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003), July 11-28. Performances will be on Thursday, July 11 at 7:30pm, Friday, July 12 at 7:30pm, Saturday, July 13 at 2pm, Saturday, July 13 at 7:30pm, Sunday, July 14 at 2pm, Sunday, July 14 at 7:30pm, Tuesday, July 16 at 7:30pm, Wednesday, July 17 at 7:30pm, Thursday, July 18 at 7:30pm, Friday, July 19 at 7:30pm, Saturday, July 20 at 2pm, Saturday, July 20 at 7:30pm, Sunday, July 21 at 2pm, Sunday, July 21 at 7:30pm, Tuesday, July 23 at 7:30pm, Wednesday, July 24 at 7:30pm, Thursday, July 25 at 7:30pm, Friday, July 26 at 7:30pm, Saturday, July 27 at 2pm, Saturday, July 27 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, July 28 at 2pm. Tickets ($35 General; $45 Premium) are available for advance purchase at or by calling 212-460-5475. The performance will run approximately 70 minutes, with no intermission. 
Adapted from Franz Kafka’s short story of the same name, In the Penal Colony investigates the performance of power, patriarchy and punishment. Three black men convene in an unnamed penal colony, asking what it means for them to exist in the media, when observed, when consumed, when punished.
The cast will feature Jamar Brathwaite (Much Ado About Nothing at The Public Theater; The Three Musketeers with Classical Theater of Harlem), David Glover (The Fever at La MaMa; Vandals at The Tank), and Dhari Noel (Telegraph Bois at Ars Nova; Floater, Ride with Cherry Picking) with Set Design by Emmie Finckel (Athena at JACK;Riot Antigone at La MaMa), Lighting Design by Cha See (Cute Activist at Bushwick Starr; The Triumphant with Target Margin Theatre), and Sound Design by Valentine Monfeuga (Let’s Get Ready Together at The Tank; Assistant on The Rape of the Sabine Women, By Grace B. Matthias with The Playwrights Realm). 
In the Penal Colony is part of Next Door at NYTW which provides a home for companies and artists who are producing their own work. This initiative provides each project with subsidized resources and space for development and performance in the Fourth Street Theatre. As part of an ongoing effort to expand support for artists at every stage of their careers, this series served over 300 artists in the first two years alone.
Miranda Haymon (Playwright/Director)  is a Princess Grace Award/Honoraria-winning writer, director and deviser of performance originally from Boston. Her recent projects include Mondo Tragic at The National Black Theatre, Erotophobia at Fordham University, and Eclipsed at Dartmouth College where she co-taught Contemporary Theater. She is an Artist-in-Residence at Roundabout Theatre Company; previously as the 2017/18 Directing Fellow, currently the Artistic Development Associate. Miranda is Resident Director at The Tank, a New Georges Affiliate Artist and 2019 Audrey Resident, a Space on Ryder Farm 2019 Creative Resident, member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab, the Wingspace Mentorship Program, a 2019/20 New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Directing Fellow, a Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellow, and a former Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage. Miranda is a graduate of Wesleyan University where she double majored in German Studies and Theater and was awarded the Rachel Henderson Theater Prize in Directing. Upcoming: We Are Proud To Present… (Sarah Lawrence College), Exception to the Rule(Roundabout Underground). 
Lucy Powis (Producer) is a dramaturg, producer, and arts administrator who hails from Toronto. She is a Literary Assistant at Abrams Artists Agency, and previously held seasonal positions in the Artistic departments of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Roundabout Theatre Company. She has developed work with Fresh Ground Pepper and NYTW’s 2050 Fellowship. Recent credits include producing [wave emoji] (Ars Nova’s ANT Fest), associate producing Between the Threads: Jewish Women Project (HERE), producing PROSPERITY!, and dramaturging How to Mourn an American (LPAC’s Rough Draft Festival). She is a recent graduate of Columbia’s MFA Dramaturgy program and a proud member of LMDA. 
The Hodgepodge Group (Producer) is a producing entity and community of artists, organizers, and scholars led by Miranda Haymon and Rose Beth Johnson-Brown that has created live performance and moving images alongside direct political action initiatives since 2017. By requiring all associated productions to integrate direct action into their work, they support art that makes change artistically and practically. Their work has been seen at Capital Fringe, Panorama Philly and The Tank.