The Best of TheaterWorks!

An off-Broadway production featuring the best short plays to come out of the last 19 years of Working Theater’s TheaterWorks! playwriting program, offered to working people across New York City.

The Award by Alma Brothers
Comte des Cierges
 by Carlos Cotto
A Cigarette Girl in the South Bronx by Constance Gemson
Drawing Close by Valerie Knight
Steps by Althea Matthews
To Boldly Go by Michael D. O’Hara
Expert Opinion by Dhipinder Walia

Directed by Nicole A. Watson

FEB 22-29, 2020

502 West 53rd Street @ 10th Ave


Special thanks to TheaterWorks! instructors
Dan Hoyle, Joe RolandJoe White

General Admission $30 / Reserved Tickets $40
Students/Seniors/Union Members (with ID) $25



Alma Brothers (Playwright) worked for private firms throughout her career. She also worked for Government Agencies for the City of New York for 28 years. Alma earned a master’s degree from Queens College in Urban Studies through her Union, CWA 1180, Education Program. She retired from the City of New York 5 years ago. Alma does volunteer work at her church and loves traveling, exercising, swimming, painting and spending time with her 8 year old grandson.

Carlos Cotto (Playwright): Born and raised in New York City, Carlos has worked as a porter at Gramercy East for over 10 years. He has written and performed in 3 sessions of the TheaterWorks program through 32BJ. Ever since he could read and write, Carlos was fascinated with the craft of storytelling and the importance of stories in our everyday lives. Through acting exercises and free association writing, TheaterWorks has helped refine his skills. Since the program, Carlos has chosen to pursue writing further by working on screenplays in his spare time. TheaterWorks has changed his work environment for the better. He is grateful for the support from coworkers and residents and hopes the program will continue and expand so other members can benefit from everything it has to offer.

Constance H. Gemson (Playwright) creates and conducts original workshops throughout New York City. Topics include: Coping with Change: Creating the Future with Confidence, Friendship: Connection and Community, Going Solo: Valuing Your Time Alone and other themes. She is the co-author of the in-house publication Home Again: Here to Stay: A Manual for Culture Change in Long Term Care. She has led creative writing workshops at Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center, NYPresbyterian Hospital Center, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and continues this work at other sites. She is a free-lance writer. Her recent essay: Grace Notes: Singing in Marion’s Hospital Room was recently published in Narrative in Social Work Practice: The Power and Possibility of Story by Columbia University Press. She has been an adjunct lecturer at LaGuardia Community College and Hunter College.

Valerie Knight, Ph.D. (Playwright) is a licensed clinical psychologist that engages the therapeutic arts. Her journey started with the professional theater and exploring bereavement  issues with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Since then, her work has radiated outward into a variety of settings. Her specialties include victims of trauma, care for the caregiver and health professionals, HIV/AIDS, loss and bereavement, and the psychological needs of women and people of color. She has taught CUNY psychology courses on site at District 1199 for 16 years. She maintains a private practice in Manhattan.

Althea Matthews (Playwright): Althea is a native of New York City, born and raised in Harlem. She is the mother of 2 sons and one daughter, with 7 grandchildren and 2 great grands. She is an advocate and leader of Vocal NY (Voices of Community Activist Leaders) that educates and fights for the homeless, civil rights, safe consumption sites and more. She is a member of CASA (Community Action for Safe Apartments) and the Right to Counsel Coalition that educates and fights for tenants’ rights. She helped make history on August 11, 2017 when Mayor Bill De Blasio signed a bill leading NYC to be the first city in the nation giving tenants facing eviction legal representation in housing court. Althea is also a member of Peer Network of New York, part of the Bronx Collective Impact Project. As a peer educator she does weekly outreach to educate individuals and the community about harm reduction. Althea first advocated in 1978 for herself. Throughout her life she has continued to donate her time. She was on the Economic Empowerment Committee at Riverside Church headed by Senior Pastor James Forbes. She interned at Harlem United and received her Human Services Certificate in 2010. She continued to volunteer her services, helping clients suffering from HIV/AIDS and with the needle exchange program until 2018. A former Certified Nurse’s Assistant, she presently works with adults with autism and intellectual disabilities. Althea is a member of the Jackson Democratic Club. In her free time she loves reading and listening to music. Her favorite network is PBS and she is a proud sponsor of St. Jude’s and Feed the Children Organization.

Michael D. O’Hara (Playwright): Michael is a native New Yorker, a graduate of CUNY/Hunter College and a member of the Dramatists Guild. He’s been a photographer, graphic designer, editor and publisher of newsstand magazines. Michael is a Certified Consulting Hypnotist and the cofounder of Manhattan Hypnosis. TheaterWorks! has presented readings of nine of Michael’s short one-act plays – On Her Sixteenth, M.O.C., Sunset Cowboy, To Boldly Go, The Luxury Life, Sick Day, Summer with Stroyko, World’s Sexiest Handyman, Everything Must Go and The New Golden Age. Fourteen of Michael’s one-act plays have received readings and/or full-stage productions nationally. Special thanks to our playwriting potentate Joe Roland; 32BJ SEIU President Hector J. Figueroa (in memory) for his ongoing support of this project; Mark Plesent and the Working Theater, the amazing actors, and the wonderful audience.

Dhipinder Walia (Playwright) is an English PhD candidate at the Graduate Center as well as a full-time lecturer at Lehman College. Her research interests include the rhetoric of diversity both in the writing classroom and in the university. For fun, she likes to write short stories and memorize dialogue from episodes of “The Office”.

Nicole A. Watson (Director) is thrilled to be back at Working Theater. She is the associate artistic director at Round House Theatre as well as a freelance director and educator. Recent credits include The Niceties (Geva Theatre) School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Round House Theatre), A Doll’s House Part 2 (Round House Theatre), Sweat (Asolo Repertory Theatre), and Skeleton Crew (Baltimore Center Stage). She is an associate artist at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, a New Georges affiliated artist, an alum of the Women’s Project Lab, the Drama League, and a member of the SDC. As a director she has worked at the O’Neill Theater Center, Baltimore Center Stage, Playmakers Rep, Theater Latte Da, Asolo Rep, the New Black Fest, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New Georges, Working Theatre, the Lark, New Dramatists, and the 52nd Street Project. As an educator she has worked at the University of Maryland College Park, the Kennedy Center, NYU, North Carolina School of the Arts, Smith College, Two River Theater, Long Island University, and ACT in San Francisco. Along with Dina Vovsi, Luke Harlan, and Rebecca Martinez, Nicole curated The Working Theater Directors Salon for 5 seasons. Her interest is in new plays, especially those that interrogate history and amplify the narratives of those who have been ignored or misrepresented.


Performance space for this production was subsidized by the
A.R.T./New York Theatres Rental Subsidy Fund,
a program of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York).


Subsidized studio space provided by the A.R.T./New York Creative Space Grant, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Deepest thanks to our 35th Anniversary Season Supporters



Empire BlueCross BlueShield

Archer, Byington, Glennon & Levine LLP
CWA Local 1180
NYC Central Labor Council
OPEIU Local 153
The Segal Company


The 21st Century ILGWU Heritage Fund

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New York Theater Program in partnership with the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York

The Howard Gilman Foundation

The One World Fund

The Shubert Foundation

the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature

public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, with special thanks to Queens Council Member Rory Lancman