The First Annual BIPOC Playwrights Festival is brought to you by the generous support of the Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation (IWCF). The Morrison Center Endowment Fund has made it possible for us to perform on the Morrison Center stage and is providing support and staffing throughout the festival. Read more about the plays, playwrights and directors below.
Festival Dates: August 2–14
The playwrights, directors, and actors will use the first week to
workshop these brand new plays.
2:00pm – Half of Chopsticks by Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters
8:00pm – Middle of the World by Juan Alfonso
2:00pm – Middle of the World by Juan Alfonso
8:00pm – Half of Chopsticks by Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters
8:00pm – A special panel with the Playwrights
8:00pm – Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey by Debra Ann Byrd
8:00pm – Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey by Debra Ann By
As you all know, BCT’s mission is to inspire our community to examine our perspectives and better understand ourselves, each other, and the world around us by creating thought-provoking stories of the human experience. What better way to adhere to those ideas than by bringing new stories, penned by artists from all over the country to Boise? We are committed to ensuring that all aspects of the human experience are explored on our stages.
Thank you to our Festival Sponsors
HALF OF CHOPSTICKS
By Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters
Emmy Young’s dad was the King of Koreatown until the day he was swallowed by a hole. It’s not just the ghost of her dad that cracks the plaster off the walls of Young’s Chopsticks – Traditional Korean Take Out and Delivery. Emmy’s half-secret, half-white, half-brother shows up with half the deed to her dead dad’s restaurant, and everything Emmy thought she knew about her home, family, and father begins to crumble.
STEPHANIE KYUNG SUN WALTERS
Playwright / Half of Chopsticks
Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters is a Barrymore nominated actor, playwright, and teaching artist in Philadelphia. She’s an InterAct Theatre Core Playwright and the Lead Artist on the Philly Asian Performing Artists’ Playwrights Project. Her play, Esther Choi and the Fish that Drowned, was presented at the PlayPenn Conference. It will have a world premiere production with Simpatico Theatre Company (postponed due to COVID-19) and has earned her a spot on the 2020 Kilroys List and Table Work Press Recommended list.
Her play Half of Chopsticks was a finalist for both the 2021 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and Seven Devils New Plays Conference. She is a two-time finalist for Unicorn Theatre’s In-Progress New Play Reading Series as well as a finalist for the Playwrights Center Many Voices Fellow. She was a semi-finalist for Nashville Repertory Theater’s Ingram New Works and received a nomination for the NNPN Smith Prize for Political Theatre.
Due to COVID-19, Stephanie received a 3Views Theatre The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation Grant Recipient. Stephanie is a graduate of the Foundry. Additional plays have been developed with Asian Arts Initiative, Philly Asian American Film Festival, Dragon’s Eye Theatre, Revolution Shakespeare, PlayPenn, Revamp Collective, and Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival. She has taught playwriting with Bucknell University, PlayPenn, Arden Theatre Company, and Theatre Exile. Stephanie is a proud graduate of Bucknell University, London Dramatic Academy, and CAP21. She is currently pursuing her MFA with Point Park University in Writing for Screen and Stage. Her plays can be found on NPX.
Director / Half of Chopsticks
Jeff Liu is a writer and director for theater, film and web, was the former Literary Manager for East West Players, and is a member of the O’Neill National Directing Fellowship cohort of 2016. He is currently a Resident Dramaturge for the Ojai Playwrights Conference.
His productions include the LA premiere of Chinglish by David Henry Hwang, as well as the world premieres of Paletas de Coco by Franky D. Gonzalez (Ars Nova ANTFest, June 2021), The Brothers Paranormal by Prince Gomolvilas, Two Mile Hollowby Leah Nanako Winkler, Mexican Day and The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) by Tom Jacobson, Texas and Solve For X by Judy Soo Hoo, Murderobilia and Terminus Americana (Ovation Award nominee for Best World Premiere) by Matt Pelfrey, and The Golden Hour and Grace Kim and the Spiders From Mars by Philip W. Chung.
He also adapted and directed the Pulitzer nominated play Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang for the YOMYOMF Network on YouTube, where it remains available to watch for free.
MIDDLE OF THE WORLD
By Juan Alfonso
A New York investment banker, at the top of his game, steps into an Uber car service. He is on the verge of closing the biggest deal of his career. As he starts chatting with the driver, he finds her smarter and more interesting than the usual person who takes you from point A to point B. He learns that she used to be someone in “management”, someone with power, a person at the top— she was the president of Ecuador.
Middle of The World centers around the unlikely friendship between Glenn and Victoria. He grew up in the projects and now has everything he ever wanted. Yet somehow, he feels deeply unfulfilled. Conversely, Victoria was the leader of a nation, democratically elected as the one who would turn the country around. She now lives exiled in disgrace, with her assets frozen and her family estranged, but with an unwavering determination to clear her name and return home.
Playwright / Middle of the World
Juan Alfonso is late to the writing game. After 20 years as a media executive, he wrote his first play, An Educated Guess, based on his own experience as an immigrant to the United States. The play was developed at New York Theatre Workshop and Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. Juan is writing his next two plays in residency at the Geffen Playhouse’s Writers’ Room program. In his day job, Juan is a television producer.
He has worked on over 25 shows, including the Emmy-winning American Crime from Academy Award winner John Ridley and Marvel’s Agent Carter; as well as documentaries like The Clemente Effect and L’Arbitre, winner of the United Nations prize at the New York Festivals in 2010. Juan began his career in advertising agencies in New York and San Francisco. He is a member of Children’s Bureau and Urban Compass, and an unpaid weekend chauffeur for his very active children.
Director / Middle of the World
Jaime Castañeda directed the world premiere productions of The Luckiest by Melissa Ross, Seize the King by Will Power, and At the Old Place by Rachel Bonds for La Jolla Playhouse. Select directing credits also include The Canadians by Adam Bock (South Coast Repertory), Vietgone by Qui Nguyen (American Conservatory Theater), The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz (Dallas Theater Center), The Royale by Marco Ramirez (American Theater Company, Jeff Award directing nomination), Chimichangas and Zoloft by Fernanda Coppel (Atlantic Theater Company), The Motherfucker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis (Kitchen Dog Theater), Tiger Style! by Mike Lew (O’Neill, La Jolla Playhouse), How We Got On by Idris Goodwin (Cleveland Playhouse), Welcome to Arroyo’s by Kristoffer Diaz (The Old Globe, American Theater Company, SPF), Red Light Winter by Adam Rapp (Perseverance Theatre), and The Royal Society of Antarctica by Mat Smart (Portland Center Stage, Jaw festival). Jaime has received a Princess Grace Award, a Drama League fellowship, and holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Texas at Austin.
BECOMING OTHELLO: A BLACK GIRL’S JOURNEY
By Debra Ann Byrd
Classically trained actress and playwright Debra Ann Byrd’s one-woman “living memoir” and musical play, BECOMING OTHELLO, explores her upbringing as a young girl raised in Spanish Harlem and the painstaking process of expressing that sometimes troubled personal history through her acclaimed gender-switched performance as the Moor of Venice. Byrd’s life as a single mother and as an artist provide her with the grounding and depth necessary to inhabit Othello, but it is the willing bravery to share her unseen truths that most resonates with her audiences. In this new adaptation of the play she mines the Shakespearean tradition to showcase the struggle, triumph and excellence of the Black experience.
CREATIVE TEAM: Playwright & Actress: Debra Ann Byrd; Director: Tina Packer; Movement Director: Dyane Harvey-Salaam; Assistant Director: Martin Jason Asprey; Costume Design: Gail Cooper-Hecht; Sound Design: David D. Wright; Light Design: TBD.
This show discusses topics and personal stories of rape, abuse, and trauma. A gun / gunshot will occur on stage during this play. These occurrences may not be suited for some audience members. Please contact the Box Office for more information.
BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl’s Journey was developed in part through a residency at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, University of Warwick, Folger Shakespeare Library, Columbia University Office of Government and Community Affairs, Shakespeare & Company, Southwest Shakespeare Company and The Center at West Park.
Debra Ann Byrd
Playwright | Actress
Debra is the Founding Artistic Director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival and an award winning classically trained actress, scholar and producer who was recently named Writer-in-Residence at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Artist-in-Residence Fellow at the Folger Institute, A’Lelia Bundles Community Scholar Arts Fellow at Columbia University and Artist-in-Residence at Southwest Shakespeare Company, where she recently reprised the role of Othello, winning her the 2019 Broadway World Phoenix Award for Best Lead Actress. Her classical roles for the stage include Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, The Choragos in Antigone, Mrs. Malaprop in The Rivals, Volumnia in Coriolanus, Winter in Love’s Labors Lost, Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra, Othello in The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice, Marc Antony in the all-female production of Julius Caesar and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest; the latter, for which she received Best Lead Actress and Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role nominations from AUDELCO and the NY Innovative Theatre Awards. Debra Ann received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College and completed advanced studies at Shakespeare & Company, The Public Theater’s Shakespeare Lab and The Broadway League’s Commercial Theatre Institute.
Tina has directed all of Shakespeare’s plays (some of them several times), acted in eight of them (never when directing) and taught the whole canon at over thirty colleges, including Harvard, M.I.T. and NYU. At Columbia University, she taught in the M.B.A. program for four years, resulting in the publication of Power Plays: Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management with Deming Professor John Whitney for Simon and Schuster. For Scholastic, she wrote Tales from Shakespeare, a children’s book and recipient of the Parent’s Gold Medal Award. Most recently Tina’s book Women of Will was published by Knopf and she has been performing Women of Will with Nigel Gore, in New York, Mexico, England, The Hague, China, and across the US. Acting credits include: Shirley Valentine, Molly Ivins, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Mother of the Maid; and Volumnia in Coriolanus. She’s the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the Commonwealth Award.