Photo by A. Vincent Scarano

A new monthly community engagement series: Plays to Progress. Hear from playwrights, local community leaders, and national activists as they explore social issues through art. Each evening will feature a brief performance followed by a conversation about the resonance of a work launched at the O’Neill within our local communities.

Join us for our next Plays To Progress on December 9 at 6:00pm EST.

watch previous conversations

Leftovers by Josh Wilder

August 12, 2020

Jalil and Kwamaine just want their family to be “Cosby Show happy,” but that kind of life doesn’t seem to be in the cards—until an enormous dandelion sprouts in front of their South Philly home and wishes start falling from the sky. Seizing the possibility of no longer feeling like the city's leftovers, the brothers begin to dream their way out of the cycle of poverty that has governed their lives, and find themselves on an adventure they never could have imagined. Purchase the play

We kick-off this new series exploring LEFTOVERS by Josh Wilder. LEFTOVERS was developed at the O’Neill in 2015 as part of the National Playwrights Conference.  The event features a performance from actors Patrese McClain, Keshawn Mellon, and Jamal Colvin. Kolton Harris, Executive Director of Writer's Block InK Incorporated joins as our community panelist, with national panelists Joel Wilson, President and Chairman of the Executive Board of 100 Black Men of Philadelphia, and Geoff Pope, Founder of The LCR. Moderated by our Literary Manager Lexy Leuszler.

about the panelists


Josh Wilder is a playwright from Philadelphia. His work has been developed; commissioned; and produced at various regional theaters and festivals across the country including The Fire This Time Festival, Classical Theatre of Harlem, New York Theatre Workshop, True Colors Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 2015 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, PlayPenn, Company One, InterAct Theatre Company, and Yale Rep. Past awards include the Holland New Voices Award, The Lorraine Hansberry Award, The Rosa Parks Award, and The ASCAP Cole Porter Prize. Josh is a former Jerome Fellow and the first national recipient of the Jerome Many Voices Fellowship at The Playwrights’ Center. He has been in residence at The Royal Court Theatre; Sundance at UCross; and served as Co-Artistic Director at The Yale Cabaret for its 50th season. Currently, he’s stationed in Los Angeles. MFA: Yale School of Drama. BFA: Carnegie Mellon. Kolton Harris is a director, actor, writer, musician, performer, artivist and is currently serving as the Executive Director of Writer’s Block InK in New London, CT. He is a proponent of the centrality of art to humanity, which fuels his passion for education reform and social justice. He graduated from Connecticut College with a BA in English Literature. Started in 2003, Writer's Block InK is an interdisciplinary arts non profit organization that focuses on empowering youth through interactive programming designed to ignite social change in the community. Young people devise works of art (theater, dance, visual art etc.) that speak to inequities, social issues and systemic oppression that hinders human flourishing and suppresses youth voices. Joel Wilson is the son of entrepreneurial parents with a mother who ran the family accounting firm and father a major health care organization. Joel has become a lifelong entrepreneur. His first business was a lawn cutting service with his first childhood friend. Later, in high school, performed flyer and custom label services on the original IBM DOS based computers. During college he started a lucrative t-shirt business, but then pivoted into computer consulting. Mr. Wilson has been serving as President & CEO of JCW COMPUTER CONSULTING, LLC ( www.JCWCC.com) a technology firm originally established as a sole proprietorship in 1992 but re-launched as an LLC in 2002. JCWCC offers a full spectrum of high quality services and top branded computer products customized to meet the specific IT needs of K-12 Schools, Small-to-Medium Business (SMB) markets, Nonprofits, Corporate & Government Diversity Supplier needs, as well as everyday home users. The mission of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. is to improve the quality of life within our communities and enhance educational and economic opportunities for all African Americans. 100 Black Men of Philadelphia, Inc. brands a LOCAL MISSION: To Educate and Empower Our Youth, Their Families, And Our Community. 100 Black Men of America, Inc. is committed to the intellectual development of youth and the economic empowerment of the African American community based on the following precepts: respect for family, spirituality, justice, and integrity. 100 Black Men of America, Inc. seeks to serve as a beacon of leadership by utilizing our diverse talents to create environments where our children are motivated to achieve, and to empower our people to become self-sufficient shareholders in the economic and social fabric of the communities we serve. Geoff Pope is currently a Senior Vice President at a global risk management firm. He has nearly 10 years of experience in managing large property and casualty risk, including industry- leading expertise in the financial, life sciences, and healthcare industries. Before beginning his career in risk management, Geoff played 4 seasons in the National Football League, which was highlighted by winning a Super Bowl Championship as a rookie with the New York Giants in 2007. Geoff has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University. Upon graduating from Columbia in 2017, Geoff launched The LCR (Left Center Right), which is a digital platform that shares unique perspectives on a number of issues. The LCR features voices and perspectives that are often unheard from people of all different socioeconomic backgrounds and professions. Geoff currently resides in Philadelphia, PA with his family and is the father of two boys, Gaige and Garrison Pope, who are 9 and 7 years old, respectively. The Left, Center, and Right (The LCR) is a digital publication that shares unique perspectives on social and political issues. Our contributors are an interesting and very diverse group of people from the US and abroad. Unlike mega news sites and traditional social media platforms, which are predicated on ratings and headlines, our platform enables everyday people to control their narratives by sharing genuine, short and concise, perspectives in a respectful manner. Simply, we seek to strengthen and improve communities, create valuable and highly functioning organization, and encourage dialogue regarding tough issues that impact everyone, regardless of race, gender, political, socioeconomic, or professional lines.





Lockdown by Cori Thomas

September 9, 2020

A writer and an incarcerated man embark on an unexpected journey to the realities of long term incarceration and grief, as they work together to craft a statement for his upcoming parole hearing. Lockdown was commissioned by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater through the Toulmin Foundation, and inspired by Cori Thomas’ experiences getting to know and working alongside a number of men currently serving life sentences at San Quentin State Prison.

about the panelists


A native Angeleno, CARLA CHING called NYC home for 16 years. She started off writing/performing autobiographical work with pan-Asian collective Peeling. Her plays include Nomad Motel (NY Premiere: Atlantic Theater Company; NNPN Rolling World Premiere: City Theatre Company, Horizon Theatre Company, Unicorn Theatre Company), Fast Company (South Coast Rep, Ensemble Studio Theatre), The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up (Artists at Play, Mu Performing Arts), TBA (2g) and The Sugar House at the Edge of the Wilderness (Ma-Yi). Her work’s been developed or produced by Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Rep, CTG Writers’ Workshop, Huntington Theatre Company, The Lark, Lyric Stage, Ma-Yi, The O’Neill and The Women’s Project among others. Former Artistic Director of 2g. She’s writing a play called Revenge Porn as a Toulmin Commission for The Atlantic. Founding member of The Kilroys and proud member of New Dramatists. TV credits: Graceland (USA), Fear the Walking Dead (AMC), I Love Dick (Amazon), The First (Hulu), Preacher (AMC), Home Before Dark. She’s developing a new show with 3AD and AMC Studios at Hulu based on Fast Company. DAVID ZHENG is a first-generation Chinese American playwright and visual artist from The Bronx. He is a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow and a resident playwright for the 2020 Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference. His work has been developed at The Public Theater, MCC Theater, The Labyrinth Theater Company, Cherry Lane Theater Company, The Lark, and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. He is a 2018-2019 member of the Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, a 2018 Van Lier New Voices Playwriting Fellow at The Lark, and a member of Ma-Yi writers Lab. David is a founding member of the Middle Voice at Rattlestick. Instagram: @Zheng_Life Prior to becoming CEO at Project Hope Alliance (PHA), JENNIFER FRIEND enjoyed a successful career as a partner at a large law firm representing national and international clients throughout the civil courts of California. While practicing law, she became involved in PHA’s board and was actively engaged in the organization’s expansion and strategic growth. In 2013, Jennifer answered her calling, left her partnership and became Project Hope Alliance’s full time CEO. Her personal experience as a homeless child in Orange County which inspired the Broadway play Nomad Motel, fuels her deep-rooted passion and commitment to homeless children and youth, while her ability to cast vision, think strategically, and lead and direct broader systems change uniquely qualify her to serve as Project Hope Alliance’s CEO. Jennifer holds a JD from Whittier Law School and a BA in Criminology, Law, and Society from the University of California, Irvine. She currently serves as a Trustee of the UCI Foundation; Appointed member of the Fiat Lux Alliance; a member of the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute Advisory Board; and is a proud parent volunteer for the Newport Harbor High School Marching Band and Davis Magnet School. PROJECT HOPE ALLIANCE's mission is to end the cycle of homelessness, one child at a time. We deploy a long-term model of care for kids and youth experiencing homelessness. We have full-time case managers who work alongside kids and youth to eliminate barriers brought on by homelessness that could impede their ability to learn and succeed in school. Our team builds trusting relationships with students and offers individualized support in the form of transportation, technology, basic needs, and social-emotional mentorship from Kindergarten to age 24. RITA PROVATAS is an attorney who has practiced law for over 30 years. She started her career in Washington DC as a civil litigator and returned to her native New London to continue her career. She now focuses her practice on immigration and nationality matters, representing employers and employees in obtaining employment related visas and permanent resident status, and family members in obtaining permanent resident status and US citizenship. Attorney Provatas also represents immigrants in removal (deportation) proceedings before the Immigration Court and Bureau of Immigration Appeals as well as intending immigrants and students overseas through consular processing at the US embassies. Attorney Provatas was born to Greek immigrant parents and, as a first generation citizen, she believes it is vital to give back to her community. She is an active member of the American Immigration Law Association ("AILA") and is a previous chair of its local Connecticut Chapter. She speaks and writes on immigration law and policy for various organizations and speaks for advocacy and church groups to educate immigrant populations on their rights. She has served on several boards in different capacities, including her local Rotary group as past president, as board member of the Hispanic Alliance, as a mentor and sponsor of the Catholica Charites Law Clinic, as a member of the Democratic Town Committee in Waterford, Ct, and as a committee member of the Supervisory Committee of the Charter Oak Federal Credit Union. Rita Provatas, Esq. Pronouns: she, her, hers Provatas & McNamara, LLC. Attorney Provatas was born to Greek immigrant parents and, as a first generation citizen, she believes it is vital to give back to her community. She is an active member of the American Immigration Law Association ("AILA") and is a previous chair of its local Connecticut Chapter. She speaks and writes on immigration law and policy for various organizations and speaks for advocacy and church groups to educate immigrant populations on their rights. She has served on several boards in different capacities, including her local Rotary group as past president, as board member of the Hispanic Alliance, as a mentor and sponsor of the Catholica Charites Law Clinic, as a member of the Democratic Town Committee in Waterford, Ct, and as a committee member of the Supervisory Committee of the Charter Oak Federal Credit Union.





How We Got On by Idris Goodwin

October 14, 2020

Hank, Julian, and Luann are three talented, determined suburban teens coming of age in the 1980s. Dreaming of fame and fortune in the new Hip-Hop music scene, they must overcome cultural isolation, familial dysfunction, and ruthless rivalries to make the music that defines their lives. A sultry DJ spins their stories with her own meta-theatrical perspective in this contemporary ode to the roots of rap. Purchase the play

about the panelists


Idris Goodwin is a multidisciplinary arts leader and creative community builder. Across two decades he’s forged a multi-faceted career as an award-winning script writer for stage and screen, Break Beat poet, director, educator, and organizer. He is the new Director of The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. The author of Free Plays: open source scripts for an antiracist tomorrow, Goodwin is committed to using the arts to spark meaningful conversation. His critically acclaimed plays like And In This Corner Cassius Clay, How We Got On, and Hype Man: A Break Beat Play are widely produced across the country at professional theatres, college campuses, and non-traditional spaces alike. He's been honored to receive developmental support from institutions like The Kennedy Center, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, and The Playwrights’ Center. In addition to the recently released poetry collection Can I Kick It?, he’s had several publications from Haymarket Books including Inauguration co written with nico wilkinson, Human Highlight: Ode To Dominique Wilkins, and the play This Is Modern Art co-written with Kevin Coval. The two also co host The Same Old New School Podcast on Vocalo Radio. He’s appeared on HBO Def Poetry, Sesame Street, NPR, BBC Radio, and The Discovery Channel. For six years, Idris taught in the department of Theatre and Dance at Colorado College and was voted Teacher of the Year in 2015. Most recently, Idris served two seasons as Producing Artistic Director at StageOne Family Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky. Passionate about cultivating new audiences in the arts, Goodwin actively serves on both the advisory boards of Theatre for Young Audiences USA and Children's Theatre Foundation Association, as well as New Mexico’s 516Arts. A catalyst for culture, Goodwin uses his full creative powers to galvanize people to the community square. He is a creative voice for change, impassioned by art for social good. Paige Hernandez is a multidisciplinary artist who is critically acclaimed as a performer, director, choreographer and playwright. As an AEA equity actress, Paige has performed on many stages throughout the country. She has collaborated with the Lincoln Center and has been commissioned by several companies including the National New Play Network, the Smithsonian, The Kennedy Center, La Jolla Playhouse and the Glimmerglass Festival. She is the recipient of an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council as well as three Helen Hayes nominations for choreography and performance. Paige has also been named a “classroom hero” by The Huffington Post, a “Citizen Artist Fellow” with the Kennedy Center, "40 under 40" by the Washington Post and one of “Six Theatre Workers You Should Know” by American Theatre Magazine. She is elated to be the Associate Artistic Director of Everyman Theatre in her hometown of Baltimore, MD. With her company B-FLY ENTERTAINMENT, Paige continues to develop and tour original work internationally. www.paigehernandez.com Brian Quijada is playwright, actor, and composer from Chicago. His autobiographical hip hop live-looped solo show Where did We Sit on the Bus? has been produced with Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista, Boise Contemporary Theatre, 1st Stage, and Ensemble Studio Theatre. It is the recipient of two Joseph Jefferson (Jeff) Awards for Sound Design and Outstanding Solo Performance, and was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards in the same categories for its off-Broadway premiere. Commissioning institutions include Seattle Repertory Theatre and the Kennedy Center. Brian’s second-born play Kid Prince and Pablo (NPC Semi-finalist 2018) will have its world premiere at the Kennedy Center in the fall. As an actor, Brian has been seen regionally, internationally, and off-Broadway. Select credits include: Bobbie Clearly (Roundabout), Oedipus El Rey (The Public/Sol Project), My Mañana Comes (Playwright’s Realm), How We Got On (Humana Festival), Beat Generation (Merrimack Rep), Airness (Humana Festival), and No More Sad Things (Boise Contemporary Theatre). Brian is a proud member of Ensemble Studio Theatre. An alumnus of the O'Neill, Brian Quijada previously acted in the shows How We Got On (NPC '11), Hype Hero (King Patch) (NPC '12), Orange Julius (NPC '12), The Solid Sand Below (NPC '13) and is the composer/lyricist for Undesirables (NMTC '19). Malik Work, the NYC based actor-teacher-writer-emcee is a founding member of the groundbreaking jazz/hip hop conglomerate: The Real Live Show. He has written and starred in a one man show entitled Verses @ Work, for which he was nominated for Best Solo Performance at the 2017 AUDELCO Awards. He also wrote, starred in, and executive produced a film version of Verses @ Work that won the International Spotlight Award at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival in 2016. His recent television credits include Broad City on Comedy Central and Blacklist: Redemption on NBC. He has provided voice-over for national network commercials, scripted television, radio, internet, a museum, and has written for HBO. He teaches acting, creative writing, Shakespeare, theater arts and hip hop, locally and internationally. His show Verses @ Work is on its way to South Africa for the 2019 National Arts Festival in Makhanda. Follow him: @malikwork on IG/Twitter





Nomad Motel by Carla Ching

November 11, 2020

Alix lives in a tiny motel room with her mother and two brothers, scrabbling to make weekly rent. Mason lives comfortably in a grand, empty house while his father runs jobs for the Hong Kong Triad. Until the day his father disappears and Mason has to figure out how to come up with grocery money and dodge Child Services and the INS. Mason and Alix develop the most tentative of friendships, struggling to survive, and trying to outrun the mistakes of their parents. Will they make it out or fall through the cracks? A play about Motel Kids and Parachute Kids raising themselves and living at the poverty line in a land of plenty. Read the play on New Play Exchange.

about the panelists


A native Angeleno, CARLA CHING called NYC home for 16 years. She started off writing/performing autobiographical work with pan-Asian collective Peeling. Her plays include Nomad Motel (NY Premiere: Atlantic Theater Company; NNPN Rolling World Premiere: City Theatre Company, Horizon Theatre Company, Unicorn Theatre Company), Fast Company (South Coast Rep, Ensemble Studio Theatre), The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up (Artists at Play, Mu Performing Arts), TBA (2g) and The Sugar House at the Edge of the Wilderness (Ma-Yi). Her work’s been developed or produced by Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Rep, CTG Writers’ Workshop, Huntington Theatre Company, The Lark, Lyric Stage, Ma-Yi, The O’Neill and The Women’s Project among others. Former Artistic Director of 2g. She’s writing a play called Revenge Porn as a Toulmin Commission for The Atlantic. Founding member of The Kilroys and proud member of New Dramatists. TV credits: Graceland (USA), Fear the Walking Dead (AMC), I Love Dick (Amazon), The First (Hulu), Preacher (AMC), Home Before Dark. She’s developing a new show with 3AD and AMC Studios at Hulu based on Fast Company. DAVID ZHENG is a first-generation Chinese American playwright and visual artist from The Bronx. He is a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow and a resident playwright for the 2020 Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference. His work has been developed at The Public Theater, MCC Theater, The Labyrinth Theater Company, Cherry Lane Theater Company, The Lark, and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. He is a 2018-2019 member of the Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, a 2018 Van Lier New Voices Playwriting Fellow at The Lark, and a member of Ma-Yi writers Lab. David is a founding member of the Middle Voice at Rattlestick. Instagram: @Zheng_Life Prior to becoming CEO at Project Hope Alliance (PHA), JENNIFER FRIEND enjoyed a successful career as a partner at a large law firm representing national and international clients throughout the civil courts of California. While practicing law, she became involved in PHA’s board and was actively engaged in the organization’s expansion and strategic growth. In 2013, Jennifer answered her calling, left her partnership and became Project Hope Alliance’s full time CEO. Her personal experience as a homeless child in Orange County which inspired the Broadway play Nomad Motel, fuels her deep-rooted passion and commitment to homeless children and youth, while her ability to cast vision, think strategically, and lead and direct broader systems change uniquely qualify her to serve as Project Hope Alliance’s CEO. Jennifer holds a JD from Whittier Law School and a BA in Criminology, Law, and Society from the University of California, Irvine. She currently serves as a Trustee of the UCI Foundation; Appointed member of the Fiat Lux Alliance; a member of the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute Advisory Board; and is a proud parent volunteer for the Newport Harbor High School Marching Band and Davis Magnet School. PROJECT HOPE ALLIANCE's mission is to end the cycle of homelessness, one child at a time. We deploy a long-term model of care for kids and youth experiencing homelessness. We have full-time case managers who work alongside kids and youth to eliminate barriers brought on by homelessness that could impede their ability to learn and succeed in school. Our team builds trusting relationships with students and offers individualized support in the form of transportation, technology, basic needs, and social-emotional mentorship from Kindergarten to age 24. RITA PROVATAS is an attorney who has practiced law for over 30 years. She started her career in Washington DC as a civil litigator and returned to her native New London to continue her career. She now focuses her practice on immigration and nationality matters, representing employers and employees in obtaining employment related visas and permanent resident status, and family members in obtaining permanent resident status and US citizenship. Attorney Provatas also represents immigrants in removal (deportation) proceedings before the Immigration Court and Bureau of Immigration Appeals as well as intending immigrants and students overseas through consular processing at the US embassies. Attorney Provatas was born to Greek immigrant parents and, as a first generation citizen, she believes it is vital to give back to her community. She is an active member of the American Immigration Law Association ("AILA") and is a previous chair of its local Connecticut Chapter. She speaks and writes on immigration law and policy for various organizations and speaks for advocacy and church groups to educate immigrant populations on their rights. She has served on several boards in different capacities, including her local Rotary group as past president, as board member of the Hispanic Alliance, as a mentor and sponsor of the Catholica Charites Law Clinic, as a member of the Democratic Town Committee in Waterford, Ct, and as a committee member of the Supervisory Committee of the Charter Oak Federal Credit Union. Rita Provatas, Esq. Pronouns: she, her, hers Provatas & McNamara, LLC. Attorney Provatas was born to Greek immigrant parents and, as a first generation citizen, she believes it is vital to give back to her community. She is an active member of the American Immigration Law Association ("AILA") and is a previous chair of its local Connecticut Chapter. She speaks and writes on immigration law and policy for various organizations and speaks for advocacy and church groups to educate immigrant populations on their rights. She has served on several boards in different capacities, including her local Rotary group as past president, as board member of the Hispanic Alliance, as a mentor and sponsor of the Catholica Charites Law Clinic, as a member of the Democratic Town Committee in Waterford, Ct, and as a committee member of the Supervisory Committee of the Charter Oak Federal Credit Union.





C O N T A C T

Eugene O'Neill Theater Center

305 Great Neck Road

Waterford, CT 06385

Administrative Offices: (860) 443-5378

Email: theaterlives@theoneill.org

C O N N E C T

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black YouTube Icon

D I S C O V E R

EUGENE ONEILL MEMORIAL THEATER CENTER INC