2022 Playwright Participants
Marylatou Barry (Smith College) is a student at Smith College studying computer science. I am interested in writing, specifically playwriting and screenwriting. When she is not writing, she enjoys analyzing films and reading.
John Cai (Emory University) is a playwright, a fiction writer but ultimately a poet, studying Playwriting and German Studies at Emory University, comes from China but has stayed in America for almost seven years, formerly wanted to study philosophy but now wants to write stories with philosophical insights instead of research papers, is deeply interested in Chinese culture and history, loves reading European literature but also knows a lot about America. He loves playing around with abstract concepts and history, riffing off older works, impersonating historical figures but always manages to speak from his heart. His words are poetic and stylized without being flowery or melodramatic, symbolic without being overly literary.
Lily Calhoun (Berry College) is a playwright, screenwriter, and videographer from the heart of Atlanta, GA. With a passion for people and storytelling, Lily hopes to make space for unconventional stories that center hope and humanity. She just graduated from Berry College in May, where her original play Call Number was produced in a stage reading. She wrote scripts for several other productions and cabarets at Berry. Lily also participated in the inaugural run of Interactive Cyber Theatre at Berry College, which combined improv theatre with audience interaction to make a choose-your-own-adventure experience. Her film degree has brought her all kinds of fun and unexpected experiences on various projects, and she is so excited to continue those storytelling adventures. After graduation, Lily hopes to continue to develop Interactive Cyber Theatre, work in the film industry, and obtain as many disco balls as possible.
Irene Zhiyi Chen (Brown University) makes theatre that dives into in-between spaces and holds powerful tenderness. She grew up in Shanghai, China and currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island as a first-year student at Brown University. She had extensive performing arts experience in high school, through which she found a passion for writing and directing. Her plays have been produced at YK Pao School and had staged readings at the 2021 EdTA Young Thespian Festival in China and Brown University. She also aspires to be an educator and, during her gap year, worked as a drama and theatre teaching assistant. While most of her creative works are in English, she sees herself both as a native and a foreigner to the language, for it has opened up worlds but also complicated her sense of belonging. When she needs a break from the intertwining multilingual voices in her head, she communicates through her body as a ballroom dancer and a Lindy Hopper.
Kailan Clay (University of Arkansas) is an actor, writer, woodworker, and musician from Oklahoma City. Kailan grew up loving the arts from a young age and believes that art should be used to produce hope and inspire change. Kailan is the creator of The Playground, the University of Arkansas’s student script development group. Kailan is currently a senior studying Theatre Performance at the University of Arkansas.
Rashad Davis (Howard University) is a 21-year-old Junior Acting Major at Howard University from Huntley, Illinois. He has a passion for rapping, singing, songwriting, producing, acting, writing, and directing. He hopes to be able to create more art across multiple media in the future.
Alice Doherty (University of Iowa) is a playwright, dramaturg, screenwriter and theatre artist from Severna Park, Maryland. Currently, she is pursuing a double major in Theatre Arts and Religious Studies at the University of Iowa. She recently completed her senior thesis for the Religious Studies major, which examines the ritual drama component of Temple worship of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through the lens of the Stanislavsky system of acting. Theatre is her favorite medium for storytelling because both onstage and in the audience, it puts people who disagree on their deepest beliefs and the very fundamentals of life in the same room. Upon graduation, she plans to apply to MFA programs in playwriting and screenwriting. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa.
Mia Gomez-Reyes (University of Texas – Austin) is a Latina playwright, director, and stage manager currently residing in Austin, Texas. She recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Theatre and Dance. She is obsessed with all things Taylor Swift, latinidad, and the complicated relationships mothers and daughters are destined to have. Her embarrassing loves are romance novels with plenty of tropes and sitcom television.
Noah Mannix (Temple University) is a playwright, poetic ethnographer, and artist from Springfield, PA. His work asks questions of identity and connection between people and the space and time they live in. When he is not working he can be found in the woods thinking about bears.
Daks McClettie (Howard University) is a 22-year-old Senior Acting Major at Howard University and originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. He is an artist who loves writing, acting, making music, and creating in general.
Chioma Ofodile (SUNY Albany) completed her bachelor’s degree in 2022 at UAlbany. She was born and raised in Nigeria, which has shaped her passion for African storytelling in its complexity and beauty. She looks forward to a future of theatre, playwriting, and creative expression.
Ama Ofosu (Emory University) is an aspiring playwright, composer, marketer, and producer. Originally from Tampa, Florida, Ama is rising senior at Emory University, studying business with a concentration in Film and Media Management. Since a young age she has been attracted to the art of storytelling, excited to create worlds where people can escape, relate to the characters, and reflect on their own experiences. Inspired by creators like Michaela Coel, Lin Manuel Miranda and Issa Rae, she hopes to bring more representation into this industry. She currently interns at Paramount Global in their offices of Global Diversity and Inclusion. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, attending any type of performance, working on her musical, and exploring different cuisines in the area.
Naomi Ogden (Wellesley College) (she/they) is a Queer Afro-Mexican American playwright, performer, and ethnographer from Los Angeles, CA, and Washington, D.C. She is currently studying Anthropology and Theatre Studies at Wellesley College (B.A. 2024). Naomi is a passionate multimodal storyteller fascinated by everything from the way people create spaces for themselves and build connections with nature, objects, and each other, to the way physical evidence on human remains can tell the story of one’s life. Recent written work includes the plays The Forest Problem (Wellesley College THST Department Showcase ‘22), Gender Play, and Triplets, which will be performed next year as part of the Babson Players’ 10-Minute Play Festival. Naomi has also acted in a staged reading of An Incredible Devotion: love is not for show, I would die for you in secret by Brysen Boyd as part of KCACTF’s National Playwrighting Program, the student film The Pervious Path to Alter Reality by Link and Hazel Kevlihan, and Grease in the past year. As a Queer artist and scientist of color, she hopes to inspire others with marginalized identities. In all her work, theatrical or anthropological, Naomi strives to honor those whose stories she portrays by speaking in faith alongside them (Dr. Kim TallBear).
Grace Reasoner (Columbia College) (she/they) is an actor and playwright from Winston-Salem, NC. She currently resides in Chicago, where she studies acting and playwriting at Columbia College. Starting at age 15, Grace has had multiple plays produced by local theatres in her hometown. Her play, To Fall in Silence from the Sky, was one of the four chosen to be performed in the Columbia College One-Act Play Festival (2021). When she isn’t writing, Grace can be found leaving empty tea mugs all over her apartment.
Arlo Schneider (University of Iowa) (He/They) is a recent graduate of the University of Iowa. He is a queer/trans playwright and actor with an interest in new works and puppetry, among other things. He enjoys astrology, folk music, and being asleep and he is very excited to be apart of the festival this year.
Shahzeb Shah (Brookwood High School) is a recent graduate of Brookwood High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia and will soon be attending Northwestern University, pursuing a double major with Theatre. Over the last four years, Shahzeb has developed his skills as an actor and a singer, performing in various musicals and plays and competing with his high school. In region and state-wide competitions, Shahzeb earned the Best Actor award and an All-Star Cast award respectively. He has recently taken his experience from the stage and his skills in writing to develop the play Brothers, a play that examines the relationship of two brothers living in a low-income household. During the festival, Shahzeb is excited to workshop his play and join others who share his passion for theatre.
Sarah Swiderski (Emory University) is a rising senior pursuing a double major in Neuroscience and Creative Writing. While her background is in poetry, playwriting has quickly become a favorite medium. She aims explore complex characters and their relationships, and she is especially interested in aging, girlhood, and movement. She currently divides her time between writing and conducting research at the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program, where she works on novel PTSD treatments as a Neuroscience Research Fellow.
Lingyi Wang (Columbia University) is a rising junior at Columbia University in the City of New York, studying theater, German and East Asian Studies at Columbia College. As an international student born and raised in the most ancient city in China, she finds herself drawn to the interdisciplinary connections between language, culture and art. Her amateur theater journey includes devising, writing, stage management, costume and set design from Xian, Shanghai to New York. She hopes to further her exploration in multilingual and transnational theater through writing and keeping on writing.
DarLinda Wright (Dillard University) is a senior English major at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, Wright has committed to exploring various genres of creative writing from poetry to playwriting. She is currently the president of the Dillard University English Club and a member of Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society. The young writer is passionate about her craft and taking risks that bring authentic voices to the stage.
Joshua Christian Wyatt (Carnegie Mellon University) is a multi-hyphenate creative artist who opens conversations surrounding the connections between philosophy, psychology, and genre. Born in Houston, TX, their Southern roots give way to an exploration of culture and literary language that allows them to delve into the facets of storytelling. They further built these tools when they were accepted into the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), where they found their eye in design – where they were awarded at the Texas U.I.L State Design Competition— and acting, culminating in them becoming a Theatre Finalist at the 2018 National Young Arts Competition. This passion for an interdisciplinary exploration of story prompted their pursuit for a formal training and their acceptance into the prestigious John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University. In their time at the institution, they strengthened their theatrical prowess by producing festivals, broadcast directing fashion shows, creating short films, directing theatrical staged readings with August Wilson House x City of Asylum, as well as being named an inaugural Cody Renard Richard Scholar in partnership with Broadway Advocacy Coalition. Developing plays and screenplays for distribution, they’ve found new avenues of expression through movements such as Afro-Futurism, Afro-Surrealism, and Absurdism. They are at present on a track towards a career in creative development and television production.
Aysha Zackria (Carnegie Mellon University) is a dramatist, writer, and musician going into her third year at Carnegie Mellon University. She seeks to amplify important issues through dramaturgy, playwriting, and other acts of creation. She works as Script Editor at Lovewell Institute for the Creative Arts, encouraging high school students to make their voices heard by devising musical theatre. She won the national Scholastic Arts and Writing “One Earth Award” for her play Hell and High Water, which addressed the effects of climate change. She also won the Miami Herald’s “Silver Knight Award in English and Literature” for her work as a tutor and advocate for improving access to literature in correctional facilities. Aysha is an accomplished musician with a background in music theory. As an instrumentalist, she has played bass in twelve musicals. Born and raised in South Florida, she loves mangos, kitsch, and the sun.