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Emerging Writers Group Spotlight Series 2023


Shiva Theater
March 6 - June 26, 2023

The Emerging Writers Group is a fellowship at The Public Theater for playwrights and other generative artists at the early stages of their professional careers. For over 15 years, EWG has brought artists together to create and develop their work in conversation with their peers and The Public Theater community. EWG is a cornerstone of The Public’s mission to celebrate and support new generations of storytellers. 

The 2023 Spotlight Series will feature full-length plays and musicals by members of the 2020-2023 Emerging Writers Group: Nissy Aya, Aya Aziz, francisca da silveira, Katie Đỗ, Ying Ying Li, Julián Mesri, AriDy Nox, UGBA, and Else C. Went. These early artists began their tenure in the Emerging Writers Group at the beginning of the pandemic. Now, three years later, they will finally have the opportunity to present  full-length presentations of their plays.


Group photo credit: Tyler Gustin

Shiva Theater
March 6 - June 26, 2023


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Monday, March 6: 3PM and 7PM

Written by Aya Aziz (she/her)

In this musical cabaret, follow the El-Bayoumi family through a ten-course meal to their wildest dreams, heartbreaks, and new beginnings. When Egyptian immigrant Yousef El-Bayoumi is hospitalized in Queens, his wife Hadia files for Voluntary Departure back to Egypt on behalf of the family. Over an elaborate dinner, Hadia strives to get everyone dreaming about Egypt before she breaks the news. 

Monday, March 13: 3PM and 7PM

Written by UGBA (pronoun inclusive)

Dark-skin Black Americans face disproportionate amounts of violence in relation to their lighter-skin Black siblings. "Dark-Skin Support Group" is a network in which dark-skin Black folks finally have the space to discuss colorism openly and honestly with each other. Watch as our participants navigate this treacherous terrain in the hopes of answering the question, "Can any space in this world truly be safe for dark-skin Black people?"

Monday, March 20: 3PM and 7PM

Written by Ying Ying Li (she/her)

What makes a good mentor? A good mentee? When does mentorship become dangerous? THIS COULD BE YOU grabs the warm and fuzzy idea of mentorship by the lapels, lifts it up, slams it down, and collects the dirty change that falls out of its finely lined pockets.

Monday, March 27: 2PM and 7PM

Written by francisca da silveira (she/her)

With the arrival of newcomer Jesuína, the Count now has a wife for every day of the week! But her rebellious personality causes dissent among the other wives, shaking up their routine and causing some to finally see the inequity of this unorthodox polygamous marriage. And when Jesuína makes a bold proposal to the other women—kill the Count and flee the Cape Verde islands to enjoy his rich estate in his native France—each woman is forced to reevaluate their relationship to one another, to themselves, and to their home.

Monday, May 8 at 6PM and Tuesday, May 9 at 2PM

Written by Else C. Went (they/she)

Between first loves and first betrayals, the SAT and D&D, house parties and homecomings, it's a wonder any of us survive high school. INITIATIVE is an epic microcosm, charting the fatefully intertwined lives of seven teens' struggle to grow up in and get out of Coastal Podunk, California, at the dawn of the new millennium. 

Monday, May 15: 3PM and 7PM

Written by Katie Đỗ (she/her)

Ellie and Kira are two Vietnamese-American actors who always find themselves in the same audition rooms. As their lives become more intertwined with the same lovers, friends, and opportunities, Ellie’s jealousy spirals into a battle with insecurity, mental health, and an epic heartbreak. When fear and coincidence bring Ellie to a life and death situation, her loved ones come together to ask, "who hurt you? And who hurt Ellie?"

Monday, June 5: 3PM and 7PM

Written by Julián Mesri (he/him)

The American Dream is a graveyard, and in beautiful Coral Gables, Argentine expat Pamela is haunted by ghosts. One takes the form of her estranged brother, who’s arrived in town from Buenos Aires to settle his accounts and who immediately butts heads with her American husband; the other is the ghost of a sixteenth-century friar who haunts her kitchen and swims in her pool. Rich with irony and revelation, BARTOLOMÉ DE LAS CASAS RUINS MY POOL is a play about the legacy of imperialism and colonialism in America, presented through the domestic strife of one aspirational Latine family.

Monday, June 12 at 3PM and 7PM

Written by AriDy Nox (they/them)

All Amma wants is to cook her gumbo in peace, but with estranged grandfathers, overbearing mothers, flighty sisters, overly-ambitious best friends, and precocious unborn children plaguing her every move, it’s anyone’s guess whether or not she will succeed. A investigation of Black motherhood and simple magic, BEAN is a fast-paced and hilarious installment in the clearwater triptych, a series of plays that follows the matrilineal line of the Clearwaters and their mysterious connection to Mother Bayou, a deity of great power and equal danger. 

Monday, June 26: 3PM and 7PM

Written by Nissy Aya (she/ze/we)

When you got something to say and can’t find the words—everyone knows you call 28 Harper. The premier Black Love greeting card company finds its home in a building with an if-you-know-you-know “matchmaking” service, its sweet-tongued receptionist, and a ghostwriter who spends her days battling a menace. UGLY asks us to enter their space to be unmade in the face of death, desirability, and disco. 

The Writers.

Image of Nissy Aya

Nissy Aya

Nissy Aya (Nissy; she/ze/we) is a Black girl from the Bronx. She and all her younger selves tell stories and tall tales -- while helping others to do the same. As a cultural worker and writer, we believe in the transformative nature of storytelling, placing those most affected by oppressive systems in the center, and examining how we move forward/shape new worlds/end this world through healing justice, Afrofuturist frameworks, and practices of feeling good. Our creative work reflects those notions while exploring the lines between oral history, archives and memory, detailing both the absence and presence of love, and giving all the life (and then some) to Black Femmes.

Image of Aya Aziz

Aya Aziz

Aya Aziz (she/her) is a writer, performer, and music producer from New York. Her musical Eh Dah? Questions for my Father, for which she wrote book, music, and lyrics, produced a sold-out run in New York Theatre Workshop’s 2019 “Next Door” series. An earlier iteration of the show, then a one-woman musical, ran at the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) in 2016, where it won awards for Most Outstanding Book and Most Outstanding Individual Performance. Aziz is a 2020 NYFA grant recipient and is currently working on her album. Notable concert credits include Signature Theatre, Cherry Lane, NAMT, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Joe’s Pub, NYMF, and Disney's Women of Broadway. Aziz has also made music for film, most recently Ask for Jane (2019 winner of Best Feature at the Big Apple Film Festival). You can listen to her single “Rapids” on all streaming platforms. 

Image of francisca da silveira

francisca da silveira

francisca da silveira (she/her) is a Cape Verdean-American playwright and dramaturg. She received a BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a MSc in Playwriting from the University of Edinburgh. In 2018, she made ArtsBoston's list of 10 Contemporary Black Playwrights You Should Know. She has been a finalist for SpeakEasy Stage’s 2018 and 2019 Boston Project Residency and SPACE on Ryder Farm’s 2020 Creative Residency, and was a semi-finalist for the Dennis & Victoria Ross 2018 Playwrights Program, Papatango's 2019 New Play Prize, and Theatre503’s 2019 International Playwriting Award. Her work has also been developed with the Traverse Theatre Scotland, Fresh Ink Theatre, Flat Earth Theatre, The Fire This Time Festival, and Company One Theatre, where she was previously a company dramaturg and Literary Manager. She is currently the Assistant Literary Director at Geva Theatre Centre in Rochester and serves as an At-Large Ambassador with the National New Play Network.

Image of Katie Ðỗ

Katie Ðỗ

Katie Đỗ (she/her) is a Vietnamese-American writer and actor. Her plays include love you long time (already)The Yellow Ranger Play, and Manic. She is currently a member of The Public’s Emerging Writers Group (2020-2022). Do was also a finalist for the Greenhouse Residency at SPACE on Ryder Farm (2020 & 2021). She is a graduate from Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts with a BFA in Acting. Acting credits include: To All the Boys I Loved Before 3, “Manifest,” “Mrs. Fletcher,” and The God Committee

Image of Ying Ying Li

Ying Ying Li

Ying Ying Li (she/her) was born in Beijing and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A graduate of Yale Law School, she practiced corporate law in NYC before restarting her life as a writer and performer. She is a member of The Public Theater's 2020–2023 Emerging Writers Group, and the Parent/Caregiver Playwrights Group, sponsored by Project Y Theatre and supported by New Georges and the 5th Floor Theatre Groundbreakers Grant. She is an alumna of The Tank’s Playwrights Group, The Tank’s TV Writers Group, and Harvardwood’s TV Writers Group. Her plays include Dance Moms (Premiere Play Festival semi-finalist, NEA grant recipient), Nectarine Girl, Doctor Mao, and Baskin Robbins at a Mall. Her work has been commissioned by Project Y, and developed or seen at The Tank, Boomerang Theatre, Rule of 7x7, Decent Company, Yes Noise, The Brick, and on The Highline (so many helicopters, lesson learned). Her humor writing and videos have appeared in publications such as the NYT, Buzzfeed, Wired, MSN, Lifehacker, Men’s Health, and Mental Floss. Ying Ying is a member of Actors’ Equity and SAG/AFTRA. She has two delicious small children.

Image of Julián Mesri

Julián Mesri

Julián Mesri (he/him) is a New York-based Argentinean-American writer and composer who makes multilingual plays and musicals in the U.S. and around the world. Recent productions include Immersion (Ingenio Festival at Milagro Theater, BAPF Semi-Finalist), The Gauchos Americanos (Teatro Extranjero, Buenos Aires), and the upcoming musical Telo. Other work includes music directing/arranging Songs About Trains with Radical Evolution, composing music for The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit presentation of Pablo Neruda’s Romeo y Julieta, and a new commissioned musical for young audiences, The Adventures of Snow White, to tour China in 2021. Mesri has been an Emerging Artist of Color Fellow at NYTW, a Van Lier fellow at Repertorio Español, and the recipient of an ASCAP Scholarship. His adaptation of Fuenteovejuna received the HOLA Outstanding Production award. As a translator, he has worked for both the Lark U.S./Mexico Exchange and PEN World Voices. He received his MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and is a 2020 Sokoloff Arts Creative Fellow.

Image of AriDy Nox

AriDy Nox

AriDy Nox (she/they) is a multi-disciplinary black femme storyteller and social activist with a variety of forward-thinking creative works under her/their belt including the sci-fi operetta Project Tiresias (2018), the ancestral reckoning play A Walless Church (2019)the afrofuturist ecopocalypse musical Metropolis  (2019), and many othersNox creates out of the vehement belief that creating a future in which marginalized peoples are free requires a radical imagination. Their tales are offerings intended to function as small parts of an ancient, expansive, awe-inspiring tradition of world-shaping, created by and for black femmes. As a graduate of the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at Tisch School of the Performing Arts at NYU and a beneficiary of the Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, she has been inordinately privileged to share the workings of her imagination among a vast array of inspiring and supportive artists of various radical backgrounds throughout the city. 

Image of UGBA


UGBA (he/they) is a Black/queer poet, actor, and activist based out of Brooklyn, NY.  His essays and poetry can be found in The RumpusThe RootAfropunkBlack Youth ProjectThe Grio, and elsewhere. In the summer of 2018, UGBA debuted his one-man show Neptune as the headliner for Dixon Place's annual “Hot Festival.” Following rave reviews and sold-out performances, Neptune was then restaged as the 2019 kick-off event for Brooklyn Museum’s acclaimed “1st Saturday" series. UGBA is an alumnus of The Public Theater’s #BARS program, the brainchild of actors/writers Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. UGBA is the Senior Editor at RaceBaitr.com, Program Director at NY Writers Coalition, and is represented by Abrams Artist Agency for Acting.

Image of Else C. Went 

Else C. Went 

Else C. Went (they/she) is a trans identified playwright, whose work has been developed through: fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, Playwrights Realm, Trans Theatre Lab @ WP & The Public, and Living Room Theatre; commissions from Weston Playhouse, Florida Studio Theatre, and Parity Productions; residencies from Stillwright and Barn Arts Collective; and productions with The Tank and The Brick. Their queer epic Initiative was made a semifinalist in the '20 O'Neill Conference, and their verse play Courage! To the Field! was a semifinalist for the Shakespeare's New Contemporaries project at ASC. Their writing has been anthologized in The DionysianVivace, and Written on the Body. Else is co-founder and playwright of The Renovationists, and also serves variously as a sound designer.


The LuEsther T. Mertz Legacy Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater's year-round activities.

The Irene Worth Fund for Young Artists provides funding for the Emerging Writers Group.

Special Thanks to the Judith Champion New Works Development Fund.