A new program in honor of Working Theater’s late Producing Artistic Director, Mark Plesent, who led the company from 1996-2021. 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.
The fund raised $75,000 when launched with the goal of running for five years, and providing 10 playwrights with their first professional commission which includes providing professional mentorship, financial support, and developmental support to writers who are deserving of an audience. Thank you to our community who made this fund possible!
Anthony Delfi is originally from NYC but currently residing in New Jersey, and has spent 18 years laboring as part of NYC’s working class. After trying something new on a whim a few years ago, he’s found a fulfilling and creative path in writing for the stage. He’ll be hoping and trying his best to make you laugh and cry as often as possible. Sharing your creative voice is one of the greatest ways to live. It’s a lesson the theater has taught him and one he hopes his work can adequately express.
Geanina (Nina) Riley is a multi-hyphenate storyteller based in Brooklyn, and born and raised in Philly. As a lifelong learner with a passion for decolonization and collaborative arts, she’s created curriculums, theater performances, and justice campaigns alongside nonprofits that advocate for black, queer, and marginalized communities. Organizations include ExpandED Schools, The African American Policy Forum, vibeTheater Experience, and now the National Urban League; all of which have supplemented her artistic practice and activism agenda. Her work interrogates and centers the intersection between black femme identity, sex, spirituality, and community. She will further explore these interests come fall 2022 at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts M.A. program for Art and Public Policy. Geanina holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Environmental Art and Social Practice from Pace University. She is a recipient of The Pace University Jurors Prize in Art, and the LGBTQ Center Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advocate of the Year.
J. Holtham (Anthony’s Mentor) is a screenwriter, playwright, comic book writer and blogger. TV:PITCH (Fox), MARVEL’S CLOAK & DAGGER (Freeform), MARVEL’S JESSICA JONES (Netflix), SUPERGIRL (CW), THE HANDMAID’S TALE (Hulu). Theatre: Ensemble Studio Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Second Stage Theater, Bespoke Plays. Essays and reporting: American Theatre, Thrillist, Slate. Comics: Star Trek: The Mirror War, Marvel Voices: Legacy (2022), Spider-verse Unlimited. Podcasts: Marvel’s Wastelanders: Hawkeye. On the board of the 24 Hour Plays and Ojai Playwrights Conference. He is a proud product of public education.
Chisa Hutchinson (B.A. Vassar College; M.F.A NYU – TSoA) (Nina’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 staffed on two television series currently in production—Three Women (Showtime) and Tell Me Lies (Hulu)— and is currently creating another with producers Karamo Brown (Queer Eye) and Stephanie Allain (Hustle & Flow, Dear White People) for Showtime. 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 www.chisahutchinson.com.
Carlos Cotto’s childhood centered around two iconic NYC neighborhoods where he was born and raised, Harlem and Washington Heights. Growing up in a bilingual household, his love of stories began with a mix of telenovelas and primetime TV shows. Employed as a vacation relief porter right out of high school, Carlos was formally introduced to theater by Working Theater and its TheaterWorks! program. The program helped cultivate his love for magical realism which is now a defining feature of many of his plays. From a mayfly’s first day on the job to a doorman’s fever dream battle with a pickle jar, his plays joyfully expand on the surreal nature of a service worker’s livelihood. Carlos was featured in Working Theater’s “Best of TheaterWorks” production off-Broadway in 2020.
John Keane was born and raised in the Bronx NY and currently resides in Westchester county. He has been a member of 32BJ for nineteen years and works on the upper east side of Manhattan. John has had a lifelong interest in art, photography and writing. He has written four short 10-20 minute plays in the last four years. John is a first generation Irish-American and his writing is heavily influenced by the music, songs, stories and people he grew up around. John is currently enrolled at CUNY Hostos and is pursuing a degree in liberal arts.
Maggie Diaz Bofill (Carlos’s Mentor) is a writer and actor living in New York City. She is a founding member of LAByrinth, and is also a member of Ensemble Studio Theater (EST), The Playwright Director’s Unit at The Actor’s Studio and The Dorset Theater Festival’s Women Artists Writing Group. Her produced plays include: WINNER (Ensemble Studio Theater, Dir. Pam Berlin, Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Season at EST); DRAWN AND QUARTERED (INTAR Theatre, Dir. Lou Moreno, NY Times Critic’s Pick); FACE CREAM and EL GRANDE (EST One-Act Marathons); SWIPE the musical (Tribeca Arts Center, Dir. Lori Kee).
Lucy Thurber (John’s Mentor) is the author of twelve plays. Her five play cycle THE HILL TOWN PLAYS was produced Off-Broadway by Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater in conjunction with The Cherry Lane Theater, The Axis Theater and The New Ohio Theatre. Lucy’s theatrical homes are Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater, The Atlantic Theater, LAByrinth Theater, New Dramatists and The Lark where they have produced and supported her. Lucy is published by Dramatists Play Service. She is an alumni of New Dramatists, A member of 13P, LAByrinth Theater Company, Rising Phoenix Rep and New Neighborhood. Lucy has been commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, The Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Houses on The Moon, Yale Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, A.C.T. and Steppenwolf Theatre. She is the recipient of Manhattan Theatre Club Playwriting Fellowship, the first Gary Bonasorte Memorial Prize for Playwriting, a proud recipient of a LILLY AWARD, an OBIE Award for THE HILL TOWN PLAYS and The Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwriting Award. She has written for SWEETBITER on STARZ and is a writer/producer on AMC’s NOS4A2 and Amazon’s OUTER RANGE. She has written screenplays for Debra Granik and Rachel Weisz and Maven. Lucy has upcoming projects with AMC, HBO, Nanette Burstein and Sarah Paulson.