Meet the 2023 ReImagine Grantees
These outstanding playwrights have conceived of four compelling, timely and joy-inducing projects, and we are honored to support them in their development journeys.
José Casas is a playwright, director, and actor. He is an assistant professor and leads the Playwriting minor in the Department of Theatre & Drama. He is a board member of The Children’s Theatre Foundation and a member of The American Alliance of Theatre and Education, TYA/USA, and the Dramatists Guild. Casas’s plays have been produced across the country and include la rosa grows beyond the wall, all brown all chingon, aDoBe, a million whispers all at once, and the vine. His plays, la ofrenda and somebody’s children received both the Bonderman National Playwriting for Youth Award (2005, 2009) and the AATE Distinguished Play Award (2007, 2010). His work has been included in a number of anthologies such as The Bully Plays, Ethnodrama: An Anthology of Reality Theatre, and Theatre for Youth II: More Plays With Mature Themes. His published work includes la ofrenda, 14, somebody’s children, and Palabras del Cielo: An Exploration of Latina/o Theatre for Young Audiences.
Sometimes, I Wish…is a one-act play that explores the lives of two young homeless children on Christmas Eve. These children live in the area known as Skid Row in Los Angeles which has the largest homeless population in the United States. In the Los Angeles area alone, there is an estimated homeless youth population of 50,000+
Eliana Fabiyi is a writer, performer and director, recently graduated from the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris, France. She is a founding member of La Compagnie Kumzitz and co-creator of their show Gauche Gauche Gauche, *nous sommes là pour vous aider. Other credits include: Treasure Island, Peter Pan and The Bluest Eye (Arden Theatre Company), A Peaceable Kingdom andA People (Orbiter 3) and Homeworld and Strange Tenants (Ninth Planet). She holds a B. A. in theatre and anthropology from Case Western Reserve University.
Socrates, an odyssey- Socrates is an average, everyday sock - a plain sock, not a sock that anybody would particularly remember. But today, they find themselves in the worst of all situations: in the chaos of a spin cycle, they have lost their mate. Thus commences an epic odyssey of a little sock in a big house, braving mythic monsters, uncharted lands, and terrifying pets, all to be reunited with their other half. In an interactive, fearless and improbable world of puppetry, Socrates helps us to discover strengths we didn't know we had, and recognize the importance of community when we are far from home.
Juliet Kang Huneke
Juliet Kang Huneke is a playwright and performer who is passionate about theatre that is larger than life. Juliet graduated from Northwestern University in 2022. This spring, her short apocalyptic dramedy MECHANICALS will be produced by The Impostors Theatre Co as part of their Footholds series. Other writing credits include: CENTERVILLE NEW JERSEY HAS A PROBLEM WITH TROUT (mainstage, Vertigo Productions), HOME FOR THE SUMMER (workshop, American Music Theatre Project), and THE WILD (workshop, Jewish Theatre Ensemble). When she's not acting or writing, Juliet teaches silly theatre classes at Chicago Children's Theatre. https://www.julietkanghuneke.com/
Hannah and Halmoni Save the World! - By day, Hannah is a seven-year-old girl who lives with her Korean-American grandma. But by night, Grandma becomes a SUPERHERO named Halmoni! But when it’s Hannah’s turn to be the hero, not the sidekick, can she step up and save the day? Hannah and Halmoni Save the World! by Juliet Kang Huneke is an intergenerational superhero play that champions asking for help, self-forgiveness, and familial resilience for the young AND old among us.
Jesús I. Valles (they/them) is a queer Mexican immigrant, educator, writer-performer from Cd. Juarez/El Paso. Jesús is the winner of the 2023 Yale Drama Series selected by Jeremy O. Harris (Bathhouse.pptx), the winner of the 2022 Kernodle Playwriting Prize (a river, its mouths), and was named the 2022 Emerging Theatre Professional by the National Theatre Conference. As a playwright, Jesús received support from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The Kennedy Center, The Flea, Teatro Vivo, and Outsider Festival. For their work as a poet, Jesús’ received fellowships from CantoMundo, Lambda Literary, Community of Writers, Idyllwild Arts, Undocupoets, and Tin House.
Jesús I. Valles
Spread — Anything can be lunch in 9th grade. Take some dry ramen and throw it in a plastic bag. Add Hot Cheetos, beef jerky bits, beans, Hot Fries, and hot water. Mix well and let it sit. Enjoy! Anything can be anything. Jeffrey, Andrew, Chris, and Jordan are 9th grade boys and they’re trying their absolute best, and the thing about 9th grade is nobody knows what they’re doing. Here they are, at lunch. Here they are, at home. Here they are, together, in 9th grade, hoping they’ll get through it.
We would like to celebrate and highlight these six finalists, who have proven that there is a robust universe of BIPOC writers whose works are just waiting to be developed and produced. We encourage you to reach out to them or to us at email@example.com if you would like to make a connection!
Sindy Isabel Castro is a theatremaker and educator. She is co-founder of Jugando N Play, a multilingual theatre for young audiences. She graduated with her MA in Applied Theatre from CUNY’s Schools of Professional Studies in 2019 and was awarded a Distinguished Thesis Honorable Mention from AATE for her thesis “¡BE PREBEARED! TEATRO EN EDUCACIÓN – THEATRE IN EDUCATION” in 2020. She is a LabWorks artist at the New Victory Theater for 2022 - 2023, an ensemble member of EMIT Theatre, and a board member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE). Sindy is a teaching artist with Lincoln Center Theater, New York City Children’s Theatre, People’s Theatre Project, and Arts Connection in NYC. Sindy strives to use theatre to create multilingual and multicultural spaces where young people are empowered to embrace their home languages and cultures. www.sindyicastro.com
I Am/Yo Soy: A Museum of Memorias is an interactive theatre piece that guides audiences through the story of immigrant families. Our young protagonists explore their heritage and their families' immigration story through a tour of a museum of objects that evoke memories through the senses. The play is inspired by Sindy’s mom’s memory of the first smell she remembers from her first day in the United States. This multilingual interactive play will invite young audiences and their families to witness, embrace, and learn from the immigration stories of three different characters. In addition, each object in the museum will invite audiences and the characters to learn more about their past and heritage.
El Cucuy After a particularly nasty fight with their monster of a mother, Yenny and Gabe are sent to Mexico to stay with their aunt and her “creepy” twin daughters at their family ranch. Yenny is popular and pretty in pink but escapes to another world when she paints. Gabe is an ornery Alt Latinx trans teen who finds solace in writing and all things “espooky”. While in Mexico, these two must face El Cucuy himself if they are to survive!
Osiris Cuen is an Indigenous, Mexicane, and Disabled artist that goes by many names. You may have seen them performing Drag as Pinky &the BRAINDAMAGE or reading books to kids in Spanish during “Hora de Cuentinflas”; their Spanish Immersive Drag Storytime. Osiris is the current SPARK artist resident at the Filament Theatre in Chicago; “Stacks!”. You may know them from their Solo Show- “The Rebirth of Osiris” with Haven Theatre Company, their role as “Gabby Orozco” in Arizona Theatre Company’s production of American Mariachi, or their 5 years of work with Childsplay, a professional Theatre company for Young Audiences; Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventures in Wonderland, The Yellow Boat, Smartest Girl in the World, Girls who Wear Glasses, Super Cowgirl and Mighty Miracle. They graduated from Arizona State University; !Bocon!, The Tenement, with a bachelor's degree in Theatre. You may contact them via email: firstname.lastname@example.org IG: @Cuentinflas
Erica Ortega is an LA-based performer and director. She graduated from CSULA with a bachelor's degree in Theatre Arts and has had the great fortune to bring theatre for young audiences, to under-resourced communities, since 1990. She joined Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre in 1998. She toured as a performer from 1998 through 2006 and was the Program Supervisor and Director for the lower elementary programs since 2008. In addition to roles in film and television, she has worked with theatre companies such as LA Diversified, The Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory, The Arizona Theatre Company and Playwright’s Arena. She is also a Program Leader with the Groundwater Institute.
“Little Lucia” is a story of survival and resilience. Lucia and her grandmother flee the dangers of the Mexican Revolution to be reunited with their family in El Norte. When their home is turned into a battlefield, they must escape in the dead of night to gain passage on a train that will take them to safety. They make friends with a kind musico who shares the healing power of song and storytelling. Their moment of peace is shattered when the train is overtaken by Pancho Villa and his men. Little Lucia must find the inner strength to stand up for what is right and discover the power of her voice.
Doug Robinson (he/him) is a playwright, theater educator, and performer from Sterling, Virginia. He is currently a MFA Playwriting Candidate at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale and has worked in Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago. His play The Figs was a finalist for the 2023 O’Neil New Play Conference and in 2021 his play Capture the Flag was a recipient of the inaugural Reimagine Theatre for Young Audiences grant and further developed at Chicago Children’s Theatre. At Yale, he has workshopped several new plays including Cactus Queen and Story in our Blood. Doug’s latest play The Tragedy of Esmewas developed in the 2022 Langston Hughes Festival. His play Soft Apples was a 2022 O’Neal Semi Finalist and was produced in the 2022 Yale Cabaret season. Recently his play Love Like Tuesday premiered with Faction of Fools Theatre Company in Washington D.C. and earned a Helen Hayes recommendation.
The Sea Beyond the Ocean When Scooter’s Dad gives him the fantasy series, The Sea Beyond the Ocean, he devours books one-to-four, only to discover: the fifth and final book was never written. Everything ends, Scooter’s dad says, but not every ending is the ending we want. Scooter can’t accept that. Especially now, since his dad…Scooter is going to get the ending he wants. So, he sets out to find reclusive author Poppy Carousel, taking two buses and a ferry till he reaches her doorstep. Poppy is a frustrated misanthrope who just wants to be left alone. Except…Poppy is never alone. In her house live the characters from The Sea Beyond the Ocean, waiting endlessly for their stories to finish. Determined to fulfill his quest, Scooter convinces the characters to help him write the ending to their stories. But stories can sometimes get out of hand…and what begins as an ending will turn into an adventure all its own.
Andrew Aaron Valdez
Andrew Aaron Valdez (he/him) is a trauma-informed care professional, educator, artist, community organizer, Intimacy Director, and DEI consultant from Donna, Texas. As a storyteller Andrew possesses a passion for pushing the boundaries of form and style within his work. Influenced by his Mexican and Coahuiltecan heritage, Andrew's plays delve into intricate themes of identity, culture, and pressing social issues. His art explores innovative elements such as site-specific locations, immersive technological audience experiences, slam poetry, hip hop, and movement to breathe life into his theatrical creations. He is a Terry Foundation Alumni, holds a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts - Theatre Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace and Organizational Leadership from the University of South Florida and Rice University, and is a MFA Candidate at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. @andrewaaronvaldez www.andrewaaronvaldez.com email@example.com
los barqueros In 2021, The Washington Post released an article highlighting the plight of teenage smugglers in Matamoros, Mexico. Drawing inspiration from this article, as well as from Ntozake Shange's "for coloured girls who considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf," Nuyorican slam nights, and Teatro Campesino's actos, this compelling choreopoem unfolds, delving into the lives of four teenagers as they navigate the complexities of machismo and question its essence. This powerful coming-of-age story weaves together various artistic forms, including spoken word, hip hop, elements from the Chicano Farm Worker movement, dance, immersive technological experiences, audience invitation and Rakugo-inspired storytelling. Against the backdrop of teenagers teetering on the brink of maturity, the play explores their profound internal struggle, forcing them to confront whether the price they pay for their elusive happiness is worth sacrificing their livelihood or find a way to sustain it.
Lucy Wang is an award-winning, published and produced writer who occasionally performs. Her plays have been produced all over the U.S. and abroad. Her prose has appeared in literary and trade magazines. Upon learning that she sold a half hour TV comedy pilot, feminist icon Gloria Steinem urged Wang to do standup which was so exhilarating that Wang developed and performed three one-woman shows to sold-out audiences. Her manuscripts are archived at the Huntington Library and University of CA at Santa Barbara. She serves on the faculty of escript.ws and Dramatists Guild Institute. You can find her works at YouthPLAYS, Original Works Publishing, One Act Play Depot, YouTube, Applause Books, Meriwether Publishing, and Amazon.
BE LIKE WATER Alex has always been a straight A student that respects authority. That is, until she is asked to reprise her role as the Chinese Dancer in Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. She hates the costume she’s supposed to wear, and the movements expected of her, but finds going against her teacher and her parents opens Pandora's Box. Challenging the status quo is never easy, especially when it gathers steam. Alex wonders, what is the point of learning if we’re stuck in 1892 or 1954? She turns to Bruce Lee and her classmates for advice, courage and inspiration.