2021 Playwright Participants
Madeleine Adriance (Brown University) is a queer playwright in conversation with the more-than-human world. She grew up in Guatemala City and Portland, Oregon, and currently resides in Providence, Rhode Island, where she is a sophomore pursuing her BA in Theater Arts and English at Brown University. In addition to theater work at Brown, she has also worked professionally as an actor, dramaturg, and assistant director with the Young Professionals Company in Portland, and as an assistant playwriting and acting teacher with Oregon Children’s Theater. Her favorite pastime is performing one-woman versions of Jesus Christ Superstar in her kitchen, and she dreams of one day writing a play to be performed for birds only.
Maria Isabel Arreola (Macalaster College) she/her) is a Chicana playwright from Blue Island, Illinois. She recently graduated from Macalester College with a major in Sociology and Political Science and a minor in Spanish and Theater. Maria is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Region 5 John Cauble Short Play Award for Floating Girls Go To The Moon, a former Ascending Playwright at Yonder Window Theatre, and her short play La Vida Corta was selected for Theatre Three’s Off-Stage Online Project. Her writing ritual includes going on long walks and writing at parks (and the occasional interview).
Chayton Pabich Danyla (Yale University) (he/him) is an actor, dancer, poet, and playwright devoted to bringing the traditionally underrepresented stories to the stage. His award-winning solo-work has focused on Love, Loss, Queer Magic, Identity, and the challenges of navigating politically fraught worlds. Chayton just graduated from Yale University this past May with a BA in Theater and Performance Studies. He is local to Atlanta, where he has been a student and practitioner of the performing arts all his life. Chayton is a proud alumnus of the 2016 Georgia Governor’s Honors Program for Theater Performance and in another life, Chayton was an evolutionary biologist who specialized in genetics and researched some Lophotrochozoa. As much as he tries, he cannot escape his background in STEM. IG: @falconchay | https://www.chaytonpabich.com/
Jacob Cramer (Yale University) is a rising senior at Yale University studying psychology and Spanish. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he can be found directing original plays and acting workshops as artistic director of Yale Children’s Theater or scare-acting year-round at Connecticut’s largest indoor haunt. Last summer, he devised and assistant directed a musical at the Tony Award-winning Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis. He loves helping kids unleash their creativity and build confidence, and aspires to create children’s theater and TV programming professionally. Outside of theater and writing, he enjoys video production (including making TikToks galore) and talking about Taylor Swift. Follow him on Instagram @jacobcraa
Matias Dupree (Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham) (He/Him) is a playwright from Mobile Alabama. He is currently a rising senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He writes for both stage and screen. He is also an actor. He recently acted in and wrote for the digital collaborative piece Disconnect that received the Special Achievement in Ensemble Collaboration and the Citizen Honors Awards at the KCACTF National Awards. His goal is to create works that are relatable to young, modern audiences.
Malaika Fernandes (Wesleyan University) is a rising junior majoring in Theater and Economics. She’s from Mumbai, though she was born in Toronto, raised in Phoenix, and is currently based in New Jersey—her work explores her own ever-broadening, ever-fluctuating definition of home. When she isn’t writing, she’s trying to facilitate the creation of more kind, casual, original theater at her school, because she believes theater shouldn’t be exclusive. When she isn’t doing theater, she’s reading, binge-watching Netflix shows or trying to watch all of the Oscar-nominated movies of the season.
Noah Oliver Gentry (Emory University) is a rising junior from Birmingham, Alabama and is pursuing a double major in playwriting and business administration. He began writing in middle school and early high school, although one might argue that writing a rap song is much different than writing a play. His work became more narrative-based during his junior year of high school after his submission to the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards won the National Silver Key for Humor. At Emory University, he is the social chair for Rathskeller Improv as well as an advising fellow with the school’s Matriculate chapter. A few of Noah’s passions include running, competitive gaming, and classic hip-hop. He is eagerly awaiting the release of the miniseries, Star Boys, a science fiction sitcom which he wrote, produced, and acted in alongside two childhood friends.
Gabriel Hansley (Morehouse College) is an all-around artist and entertainer. The Brooklyn native actor, singer, songwriter, playwright, and poet is currently a rising senior at the prestigious Morehouse College where he studies theatre performance. Some of his hobbies include playing basketball, listening to all types of music, and traveling. He pursues a relentless mission to showcase and build upon his many crafts of entertainment on the big stage and screen while paying it forward and providing opportunities for those who share similar roots and backgrounds. With his many talents, humble beginnings, and authentic voice he hopes to leave a mark and spark the minds of those who wish to dream big and change the world.
Cassandra Hsaio (Yale University) studies Theater Studies and Ethnicity, Race & Migration at Yale University. Her plays have been selected as finalists for national playwriting competitions and were produced by The Blank Theatre, Writopia Labs, Princeton University, Durango Arts Center, California Playwrights Project, YouthPLAYS, and Yale University. She has also won a Gracie Award for her entertainment journalism and was recognized as a Voices Fellow for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). Her poetry has been recognized by a variety of national and international lit magazines and organizations. She has interned for development/current film/TV departments at film distributors, studios, and production companies in Hollywood. Her dreams for the near future consist of infiltrating a writer’s room, going to an ABBA concert, and unlocking her superpowers of flight.
Elliot Lewis (Yale University) is an aspiring playwright, screenwriter, and journalist. Originally from Highland Park, Illinois, he is currently a rising junior at Yale University studying English with a concentration in playwriting. He started writing plays as a sophomore in high school, where he was able to produce his one-acts through his school’s short play festival. He has continued to grow as a writer throughout college while studying under playwrights Marc Lapadula and Deb Margolin. At Yale, Elliot serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Yale Herald and Associate Editor of The Yale Daily News Magazine. In his first year of college, he received the J. Edward Meeker Prize in Fiction from Yale for his play Mobile. His short film The Suicide of Howard Klein was produced by Yale in Prague and is available on YouTube.
Roan Lucas (DeKalb School of the Arts) is a writer and actor from Atlanta, Georgia. Recently, he graduated from DeKalb School of the Arts as a creative writing major and drama minor. He has written a variety of one-act plays, some of which have been performed and some of which have been buried away in his writing folder never to see the light of day again. He was the winner of the 2018-2019 Georgia Thespian Conference Playwriting Contest with his piece The Eye of Ra, which was later performed at his school’s Fringe Festival. When writing, Roan mainly chooses to focus on comedy, because really, the world needs a laugh right about now. As for his personality, Roan believes that his Twitter bio sums it up best: “one time i let a crawfish bite my nipple for a pack of m&ms and really that’s all you need to know about me.”
Ryan Diego Martinez (UC San Diego) is a Chicano playwright, writer, and theatre artist from Covina, CA, currently studying literature and playwriting at UC: San Diego. He has had multiple works produced in San Diego, including the short plays Oh God I Will Do It and It Will Be Good and It Will Be Loved at the Stage Room with Company 157, and Coyote y Coyote (or, How to Feel Okay with Killing for Sport) at the Pride and Joy Festival with TigerBear Productions. He was also a featured finalist for the Storytwigs Micro-Fiction Contest in April 2021. His most recent project was a staged reading with UCSD’s Honors program, of his full-length thesis play Mr. Shakespeare and the Gaping Maw, Presented in Association with the Howard County Community Theater.
Natalie Martinez-White (Vanderbilt University) is a writer and anthropologist at Vanderbilt University. They like to hike and write and play with their cat Tortellini. Michigan is their home and the Great Lakes are close to their heart.
Yazmeen Mayes (Kennesaw State University) is a playwright and composer from Georgia. When she was six, she started guitar lessons in pursuit of her dream of becoming Hannah Montana. Later, Yazmeen joined choir, where she sang for the next ten years and discovered harmony, “toilet tunes” (copyright pending), and arranging, which eventually led her to composition. Yazmeen is now in her third year as a music student at Kennesaw State University. She started playwriting during the pandemic, and the process of writing, editing, and questioning has allowed her to learn and heal through the page. She hopes her work allows others to do the same.
Ayanna Chanel Palmer (Kennesaw State University) is a writer, performer, and composer from Lawrenceville, GA and Chesapeake, VA. She is currently a rising sophomore pursuing a double major of English and Theater, with a minor in German. She’s relatively new to theater as a verb, and she’s been working hard to get the hang of actually pursuing her passion; this is the first play that she’s finished, and the second to be put on stage! On campus, she serves as president and vocal arranger for her school’s show choir. Dedicated to creating works that sing and falling in love with the beauty and connection that exists in every circumstance, her ultimate career goal is to change people’s lives through art. When she’s not writing or leveling up her skill set, Ayanna can be found reading poetry, playing with her dogs, and writing love songs for her adorable baby plants.
Alexandria Passanisi (Univ. of Texas at Austin) is a playwright and screenwriter from Bonham, Texas. Currently, she is attending the University of Texas at Austin, where she is pursuing a B.A. in Theatre and Dance, with an emphasis in playwriting and directing, as well as a B.S. in Radio-Television-Film. This last spring, Alexandria wrote and co-directed a full length drama for the 2021 Cohen New Works Festival. In 2018, she was commissioned to write and direct a one act comedy for Take the Wheel Productions. This summer, Alexandria will be attending the National Theatre Institute’ Theatremakers Summer Intensive as a playwright. Alexandria loves creating art that focuses on female empowerment, joyful representations of ASD, and funny girls who like to run around the woods.
Avery LaMar Pope (Ohio University) (He/Him) is a storyteller from Cleveland Heights, OH. He tells stories through many different mediums, including theater as an actor and playwright, music as a singer/songwriter and musician, poetry, and movement. He received his BFA in Acting from Ohio University and is an avid believer in Christ. His desire is and always has been to tell the stories that haven’t been told, and to leave no place the way he found it. Some of his work can be viewed on averylamarpope.com, and he’s extremely excited to work with Horizon Theatre and meet the fellow members of his cohort.
Miguel L. Silan (University of Georgia) is a writer from Woodbridge, New Jersey. Last month he finished his BA in Entertainment and Media Studies from the University of Georgia, with minors in Theatre and Film Studies. During his time at the University of Georgia, Miguel has written and directed three short films, assisted in the creation of other films, acted (and rapped) in the Asian American Student Association’s Lunar New Year event, and written various plays and scripts. Unsure of what he wants to do with his life (for now), he hopes to one day create stories that speak to our universal truths and insecurities, and unravel them. Having moved around a lot as a child (having lived in Guam, then New Jersey, then Guam, then New Jersey again, then Georgia), he enjoys meeting different types of people and connecting with them. Living by the words “All will be well,” he enjoys spending time joking with friends, playing video games, and watching TV and movies (and then breaking them down).
Abigail Smithwick (University of Georgia) (she/her), originally from Canton, Georgia, is a rising junior at the University of Georgia. She is pursuing a Theatre and Entertainment & Media Studies double major as well as a minor in English. She is passionate about writing for children and young adult audiences. Her first play, Adelaide and the Faerie Land, was staged by UGA’s Children’s Theatre Troupe this past spring. Besides writing, some of her other interests include lighting and scenic design, film, and watching Survivor with her roommate. Abigail is so excited to be participating in the New South Young Playwrights Festival and to have the opportunity to collaborate with such talented playwrights.
Isabelle Stevens (Smith College) (she/her)is a rising senior at Smith College pursuing a degree in Theatre, English, and Translation Studies (Spanish and Farsi). A first-generation Iranian-American, Isabelle grew up in a family that formed a mosaic of countries and cultures; this often manifests in her work, where she likes to explore how different languages and cultures can intersect and diverge. Folklore and fantasy also tend to mark her work, as the lines between reality and illusion are often blurred. A passionate theatre maker, Isabelle loves improv, acting, writing, and working behind the scenes. My Brother’s Name is her first play, and she’s thrilled to be participating in NSYPF. Based out of Providence, Rhode Island, this summer Isabelle is also working as the Production Assistant for RI Latino Arts Teatro en el Verano’s bilingual-adaptation of Don Quixote. Isabelle can be reached at email@example.com.
Giovanni Tortorici (Georgia State University) Homegrown in Atlanta, Georgia State University senior Giovanni Tortorici grew up surrounded by actors and stages with connections to the local arts world. He’s witnessed firsthand the impact arts have on solidifying community. While he directs, writes, and AD’s, you can find him giving script feedback and anything else that uplifts growing filmmakers. Since 2018, he and his collaborators at Potluck films have launched an online film festival, Potluckfest with proceeds supporting the Atlanta Artist Relief Fund. In 2021, Giovanni’s short, “Eat Your Heart Out,” was an official selection of the Atlanta Film Festival. When not in Potluck, Giovanni is at work on developing his playwriting sensibilities, producing a documentary project about toxic masculinity and developing a pilot with his writing partner.
Jessica Wang (Emory University) is a writer, director and actor from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She is currently a rising senior at Emory University double majoring in Playwriting and Film Studies. She has a passion for storytelling in any genre. Even though she doesn’t have a clear set goal for the future, she wants to create stories that can make people laugh, cry and most importantly, feel. She is allergic to boredom and fun, excitement are her two priorities in life. Since 2020, she has been working with a local Taiwanese artist organization, The Story of An Island, to produce films, plays and dances that give local artists a voice. In November, her stage play, Summer Rain, is going to premiere in Taipei. She’s beyond excited to be part of the festival and looks forward to witnessing every artists’ talent and art.
Kalani Washington (Oconee County High School) is a rising college freshman and an aspiring Dramatic Writing major at the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has found inspiration for her writing from the music she has heard and the people she has met in her various activities including band, chorus, and drama. In 2020 she was selected as a Georgia Governor’s Honors Program Finalist for the Communicative Arts department. Since the program was cancelled (like most of 2020), Kalani spent her time at home writing short films and play scripts which she submitted to several competitions. She has been recognized with the titles of Honorable Mention from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Platinum Award from the SCAD Challenge competition, and “Best Film” at the University of Georgia’s Black Theatrical Ensemble Awards. In the future she dreams of writing for Disney, and she plans to be the first in line to watch the new movie Cruella.