Valerie Knight is a licensed clinical psychologist that engages the therapeutic arts. Her journey started as an actress, singer, and theater collaborator in the professional theater. She was a longtime member of the New York Street Theatre Caravan and appeared in many productions by the group and others. Her work has radiated outward into a variety of settings including victims of trauma, care for the caregiver and health professionals, HIV/AIDS, loss of all kinds, the psychological needs of women and people of color. She is a facilitator in Montefiore Hospital’s Healing Loss Program and taught CUNY psychology courses at the District 1199/SEIU union for 16 years. Her current project with collaborator Roz Leiser, RN is “Black and White: Reckoning with Racism and Reconciliation”. The project is developing an American model based on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation process that features narrative, poetry, art and music. She maintains a private practice in Manhattan. She thanks her excellent teachers, family and friends.

Harrison Magee is a resident of Jackson Heights, Queens, and is a member of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1. Before becoming a bricklayer, he spent nearly a decade working in the City’s residential moving and storage industry. A longtime union activist, he is closely tied to the City’s labor movement and is passionate about making the City a better place for working people. He completed his first play, Billionaire’s Row through the Working Theater’s TheaterWorks! class in Fall 2022, and is grateful to the organization for the opportunity to continue telling stories. 


Get to Know the Playwrights

Meeting of Recipients 

Last year’s MPCF recipients, Nina Riley and Anthony Delfi, sit down with Harrison and Valerie to share insights into the process, answer questions, and offer guidance to our new recipients as they begin their writing journey. Listen in to their incredible conversation and hear how Harrison and Valerie are feeling at the start of their first-time commission experience. 



Ed Cardona Jr. (Harry’s Mentor) is a Connecticut native who has made significant achievements in the field of playwriting. He graduated from Western Connecticut State University and went on to obtain his M.F.A. in playwriting from Columbia University. Ed is the author of numerous full-length, one-act, and ten-minute plays. His most recently produced works have garnered attention and recognition. Among them is “American Jornalero,” which was staged by Intar Theatre, Oakland Theater Project, Teatro Vista, and Urban Theater Company. Ed’s contribution to community and collaborative initiatives is commendable. He wrote “Bamboo in Bushwick” for the Five Boroughs/One City project, which aimed to bring together various communities through theater. Furthermore, he penned “La Ruta,” a New York Times Critics’ Pick, for the Working Theater. Additionally, “Maria Se Fue” was performed as a one-act play at the As Performance Series, NYU | Steinhardt Drama Therapy Program. His ten-minute play titled “Rip 60, Z Split, Hot Read, Ear Hole on 3 – BREAK” was featured at the Source Festival by Source Theater, and his play “Lychee Martini” was a finalist at the 2020 National Playwrights Conference, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. His talent and dedication have earned him accolades and opportunities as an artistic associate with the Working Theater, a collaborator with Urban Arts Partnership/The New Group/Life Stories, and a resident playwright with Theatre 4 The People, St. Andrews College, Hispanic Playwrights-in-Residence Lab at Intar Theatre, The Professional Playwrights Unit at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, and The Hall Farm Center for the Arts & Education in Townsend, VT. Ed’s written works have been published by renowned publishing houses such as Dramatic Publishing, Smith and Kraus Publishing, and NoPassport Press. Notably, his thesis play, “PICK UP POTS,” earned him the prestigious John Golden Award during his time at Columbia University. Outside of his playwriting endeavors, Ed is an IT professional in Higher Education. He has resided in New York City for over twenty years, calling the borough of The Bronx his home. Despite living in New York, Ed remains a die-hard Red Sox fan. Throughout his journey, he is grateful for the love and support of his family.

Chisa Hutchinson (B.A. Vassar College; M.F.A NYU – TSoA) (Valerie’s Mentor) has presented her plays, which include She Like Girls, Somebody’s Daughter, Surely Goodness & Mercy, Whitelisted and Dead & Breathing at such venues as Atlantic Theater Company, Contemporary American Theater Fest, the National Black Theatre, Second Stage, and Arch 468 in London. Her radio drama, Proof of Love, can be found on Audible (with a boss rating). She’s been a New Dramatist, a Dramatists Guild Fellow, a Lark Fellow, a Humanitas Fellow, a NeoFuturist, and a staff writer for the Blue Man Group. Chisa has also won a GLAAD Award, a Lilly Award, a New York Innovative Theatre Award, a Helen Merrill Award, and the Lanford Wilson Award. She’s currently on strike with the WGA, but has staffed on two television series—Three Women (Starz) and Tell Me Lies (Hulu)— and is currently creating another with producers Karamo Brown (Queer Eye) and Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow, Dear White People). Her first original feature, THE SUBJECT, in which a white documentarian deals with the moral fallout from exploiting the death of a black teen, is available on various VOD platforms after a successful film festival circuit during which it won over 30 prizes. To learn more, visit .


Known for bridging the access gap to theater, Mark leaned into work that reflected the racial, cultural, class, and economic differences of his constituency (what he called his beloved audience). He accepted that these differences would sometimes be divisive, but he always believed that ‘what makes us different is the most interesting thing about us’.

Conceived with Mark Plesent before his passing in February 2021, The Mark Plesent Commission Fund supports the commission and development of new plays by working people– in particular, those who have not had the privilege or the resources to self-identify or support themselves professionally as artists, but who have shown extraordinary talent, consistency of practice and a commitment to writing within the mission of Working Theater. Mark recognized that many within the communities that Working Theater serves are storytellers themselves. The Fund will support five years of annual new play commissions, providing mentorship, financial support, and developmental support to writers who are deserving of an audience.

Learn more about Mark Plesent by reading the tribute to Mark in American Theater written by Co-Artistic Director, Tamilla Woodard. 

Take a look at previous recipients and mentors from the program here