BIPOC – 3rd Annual

We would like to acknowledge that the land we gather on is the traditional territory of the Shoshone and Bannock Peoples. 

We honor all who came before us, our own ancestors, and the Indigenous caretakers, named and unnamed, recorded and unrecorded. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work, play, and create here in this community, on this territory, and to carry on the tradition of storytelling.

Flip through our digital program:

Boise Contemporary Theater’s annual BIPOC Playwrights Festival, founded in 2021 with assistance from the Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation, seeks to champion emerging and mid-career playwrights by connecting exceptional works with professional actors, directors, and technicians.

The festival gives playwrights of color the chance to workshop their script during the week with a director and full cast. Hearing their words read out loud by professional actors provides valuable feedback. The festival culminates in two nights of staged readings. This experience helps inform their work, building the careers of playwrights of color, so they can keep telling their stories.

What better way to adhere to our mission 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 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. BCT is grateful for the financial support that allows this festival to bring esteemed playwrights, directors, and actors together to present stories and characters not often seen in Boise theater.

Important Event Info: Students with valid ID are eligible for free admission.

-All seats are general admission (choose your own seat).
-Everyone through the door, regardless of age, requires a  ticket.

*Please see the ticketing page for more venue requirements and information.*

Festival Passes are available for $15.00 + ticketing fees.

Individual events are available for $10.00 each + ticketing fees.

*Please note that although Ticketmaster lists the pass as an event at 1:50 pm on Saturday, the pass covers ALL ticketed events during the festival. Sorry, it’s a Ticketmaster thing.

Festival Schedule August 21-26, 2023

August 21 & 22: This portion of the festival is closed to the public.

The playwrights, directors, and actors use the first few days to workshop two new plays, The Life You Gave Me by Novid Parsi, and Bridging the Gap by LaDarrion Williams, and rehearse the one-man show, Break It Down, written and performed by Herb Newsome.

Wednesday, August 23: FREE & open to the public!

    • 7 PM | Boise State University Special Events Center (SpEC) | Playwrights Panel: Meet BIPOC Playwrights Novid Parsi & LaDarrion Williams in a panel discussion led by Festival Director Lily Yasuda.

Saturday, August 26:

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop, BCT brings you a one-man multimedia show telling the story of the early days of Hip Hop through a live performance of the four elements: DJing, MCing, B-Boying, and Graffiti Art!

KTVB The 208

Festival Plays and Artists:

The Life You Gave Me by Novid Parsi

A son tries to save his mother. She has other ideas. So do two mysterious strangers who watch the play—and ask the son to tell the story again and again until he gets it right, whatever right might be. With each iteration, tensions escalate between the son and the strangers. Meanwhile, the mother refuses to stay within her son’s narrative box. In The Life You Gave Me, two theatrical worlds overlap and collide. In the intimate domestic setting, a son struggles for years to extricate his mother from a violent marriage. And in the abstract meta realm, a nonwhite writer navigates cultural and professional expectations of the stories he tells.


Novid Parsi (NOHV-eed PAHR-see, he/him) is a playwright whose recent work includes Remains and Returns, a winner of the Ashland New Plays Festival; and Through the Elevated Line, Jeff Award nominee for best new work. His plays have been produced or developed by Golden Thread Productions (San Francisco), The New Group (New York), Paines Plough (London), Playwrights Foundation (San Francisco), Queens Theatre (New York), Silk Road Rising (Chicago), and the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, among others. A two-time finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Novid also has been a finalist for Amphibian Stage’s SparkFest, Broad Horizons’ New Voices, New Plays, and the Woodward/Newman Award, and a semifinalist for the New American Voices Playwriting Festival and the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. A son of Iranian immigrants, Novid grew up in East Texas, earned degrees in literature from Swarthmore College and Duke University, and then lived in England and Chicago. Novid and his husband live in St. Louis.


Andrea L. Hart is a writer, director, and theater-maker whose work ranges from large, sprawling devised pieces to one-woman shows to opera librettos and everything in between. Her work has been supported by grants from Puffin Foundation West, Theater Bay Area, and Venturous Theater Fund and has been developed and performed at the #AmericanAF Festival in NYC, Great Plains Theatre Conference, the MacDowell Colony, CounterPulse, 6NewPlays, Hyde Park Theatre in Austin, TX and companies in and around San Francisco. She was a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Conference and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. She has an extensive background in new play development and has created masks and shadow puppetry for a variety of venues. She holds an MFA in Directing from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently the Artistic Director of Cabrillo Stage in Santa Cruz, CA. Find out more at

Stage Manager

Rachel Kaufman* is thrilled to be back for her second year with Boise Contemporary Theater’s BIPOC Playwrights Festival! She is currently the Resident Stage Manager at BCT and has previously lived and worked for several years as a freelance Stage Manager in New York City. Selected regional credits: The Christians, Tiny Beautiful Things, The Show on the Roof (world premiere), The Persistent Guest (world premiere), and All is Calm (Boise Contemporary Theater). The 39 Steps, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, Sleuth, Million Dollar Quartet, Music Man, Misery, and Macbeth (Idaho Shakespeare Festival). Selected New York Credits: Riddle of the Trilobites (CollaborationTown, New Victory Theater), beep boop (Crowded Outlet, HERE and 14th Street Y), and Bitter Greens (world premiere – One Viking Productions, 59E59). MFA: Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. BA: Boise State University. Rachel is a Kennedy Center Award Winner in Stage Management and a proud member of the Actors Equity Association.


Adrianne Cury* is thrilled to be here at BCT acting in Novid Parsi’s tragic, funny, & outrageously timely new piece. She often works with Chicago Dramatists helping in new play development, has appeared in several world premieres & adaptations, and directed two premiere adaptations. Some highlights of her acting in the Midwest include And Neither Have I Wings to Fly, The Roommate, Hamlet, 12th Night, Hedda Gabler, The Seagull, Picnic, Summer & Smoke, Underground, Shrapnel in the Heart, & Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She’s performed in numerous GB Shaw plays with ShawChicago, and traveled with them on a MacArthur Grant to Turkey in Ibsen’s Ghosts. She has won a Jeff Citation, & two After Dark Awards. A long time member of AEA & SAG, she’s appeared on Chicago PD & in the short films Lunch In Lima & Mosque Alert. She teaches & coaches actors (ActingStudioChicago & on Zoom)!


Wiley Naman Strasser is a biracial Armenian-American actor, dancer, and musician. Recent credits include workshops with The Civilians and the Ashland New Plays Festival, Detour Dance’s We Build Houses Here, and Stairwell Theatre’s Crave at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. Other credits include productions with San Francisco Playhouse, Shotgun Players, Berkeley Rep, Aurora Theatre Company, and world premieres with Magic Theatre, Golden Thread, Los Angeles Theater Center, Cutting Ball, Crowded Fire, and Hope Mohr Dance. Wiley has studied with Pig Iron, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Yuyachkani (Lima), Teatr Zar, and the Grotowski Institute (Wrocław) and received his degree from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television.


Chanel Tilghman (she/they) hails from the San Francisco Bay Area and holds a BA in Communication and a double minor in Theatre and Music Industry from the University of Southern California. Regional theater credits include Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (American Conservatory Theater), Belle in A Christmas Carol (Center REPertory Company), and Kitty Bennet in Paul Gordon’s Pride and Prejudice (TheatreWorks Silicon Valley). Other notable stage performances include Matilda, Little Shop of Horrors, and Mamma Mia! with Berkeley Playhouse, Kinky Boots with Ray of Light Productions, Passing Strange with Shotgun Players, The Little Mermaid with Lucky Penny Productions, and In the Heights with Contra Costa Civic Theatre. Chanel is also a seasoned teaching artist and educates K-12 youth in theatre arts across the greater Bay Area, including at Musical Theatre Works, 42nd Street Moon, and Bay Area Children’s Theatre.


Joe Conley Golden* is delighted to be acting in his first BCT BIPOC Festival. Other BCT credits include Tiny Beautiful Things, Slow Food, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Hand to God, Waiting for Godot, Stones in His Pockets, and co-writing and acting in The Krumblin Foundation with his Fool Squad partner, Tom Willmorth. Joe also served as the dialect coach for both co-productions of All is Calm. A longtime company member of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Joe chairs the theatre department at The College of Idaho. He also narrates audiobooks and records voiceovers: Joe’s next exciting project is his upcoming wedding to his amazing partner, Rochelle. He looks forward to co-creating an epic love story.

Bridging the Gap by LaDarrion Williams

When a White content creator steals the content of Black creatives, three friends from small-town Alabaster, Alabama, fight for their place on an app that constantly erases them. But when a famous filmmaker decides to document their journey, the trio’s bond has to survive jealousy and down-home secrets before the spotlight costs them their friendship.


LaDarrion Williams is a Los Angeles based-playwright, filmmaker, author, and screenwriter whose goal is to cultivate a new era of Black fantasy, providing space and agency for Black characters and stories in a new, fresh and fantastical way. In September 2019, his play Coco Queens, was a part of the Sundance Institute’s Playwriting Intensive. The play was also a semi-finalist for the 2020 Eugene O’Neill National Playwriting Conference. In 2021, his critically acclaimed play Boulevard of Bold Dreams (a story about Hattie McDaniel’s historic Oscar win) was a part of the New Works Festival at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica, California. It had a world premiere production at TimeLine Theatre in Chicago Jan 2023 and an East Coast Premiere at Greater Boston Stage Company in March 2023. Currently, it will be a part of Orlando Shakes Theater Signature Series in Fall 2023. Serving as a writer-producer, LaDarrion has curated three short films on Youtube. Blood at the Root, the first novel in his debut YA fantasy trilogy, is forthcoming from Labyrinth Road, a Penguin Random House imprint in Summer 2024.


Johnathon L. Jackson is a proud Cleveland native, now living in Los Angeles. He’s a multi-hyphenate artist repped by ColorCreative Management and teaching artist with the Tony Award winning Center Theatre Group. Johnathon is currently working on the Netflix series Forever, an adaptation of the Judy Blum novel crafted by Mara Brock Akil. His last play, The Night in Question, was a part of the Ink-ubator festival in partnership with the Black Creators Collective and the WACO Theatre Center under the direction of Richard and Tina Knowles Lawson. More than anything, he is most proud to be a father to his amazing children. Johnathon is so excited to be at Boise Contemporary Theater, helping to bring the beautiful and relevant words of LaDarrion to life. Please follow Johnathon on all socials @TheJohnLJackson or by checking out his website at

Stage Manager

John Wicks works predominantly as an actor with Alley Rep, BCT, and ISF, although his experience extends to stage management and directing. His recent credits include Sweat (BCT ’23), Alls Well That Ends Well (BBP ’22), Hot Asian Doctor Husband (Alley Rep ’22), and understudying for Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet (ISF ’22). He spends a plethora of his time as the Program DEI Manager at Alley Repertory Theater. He considers it his duty to tell stories for and about marginalized groups and prioritize physically and psychologically safe spaces for everyone involved in a show’s process.


From humble beginnings in Columbia, South Carolina, K.Starr has always loved to perform. Starting out as just a baby singing in the church choir directed by his mom while his dad played the keyboard, music, and being on the stage was something always instilled deep in the fabric of his family. With a background in Music, Theatre, Dance, and Television Production, K.Starr has trained, performed, and worked with a variety of artists, including Bobby Brown, Montell Jordan, and CeCe Peniston. His television credits include Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, TV One, The Bachelor Franchise, and Big Brother, extending to commercial features for Google, SeatGeek, and more. K.Starr credits Broadway star Stepp Stewart for much of his foundation. K.Starr is venturing more creatively, taking everything he has mastered and learned into creating projects of his own coming very soon! @KStarrOfficial.


Jemar Michael, a Twin Cities native, has been blessed to be acting for over 20 years. Graduating from Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists and a few years at Cal Arts, Jemar has made strides in his career, joining projects like Netflix’s Dear White People and Amazon’s The Chadwick Journals. He has worked with countless names in the industry as well as continuing to work on other forms of physical art.


Phillip McNair was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Introduced to Shakespeare and other contemporary plays while in high school, he knew that acting was his passion. He began his journey at the New York Film Academy in NYC, where he honed his craft and was introduced to film. He later moved to Los Angeles, graduating with his Bachelor’s in Acting for Film in 2017. From here, he immediately got involved in the theater scene in Hollywood. His first gig being the staged reading for the play White Nights, Black Paradise by Sikivu Hutchinson. Soon after, he was recommended for LaDarrion Williams’ debut of Concrete Rose. Eventually, he stumbled upon a talent manager partnered with an agency. In 2020, Phillip signed with Almond Talent and continues to pursue his passion today. You can find his works on YouTube or on Instagram @theephilmcnair.


Nicolette Ellis is so excited to play the role of Lashonda with this amazing cast & crew. She is an actress and creative hailing from Maryland. The Newark Film Festival and LA Drama Critics Circle Best Performance nominated actress has demonstrated her performance in the ALLBLK original series Makeup x Breakup, plays, films, commercials, and more. Since then, she has served as a creative that has shown her storytelling through acting, writing, and her own business itsRandom. She is looking forward to pushing the narrative in every way possible.


Dakotah Brown

Break It Down, written and performed by Herb Newsome

PHOTO: Jordan Lockwood

A one-man multimedia show that tells the story of the early days of Hip Hop through a live performance of the four elements: DJing, MCing, B-Boying, and Graffiti Art. Explore the history behind the music set in the Bronx, NY, during a time where urban decay and gang culture inspired a people to create their own form of expression. Playing ten characters using music, dance, video, graffiti, and rhyming, the audience will be taken on a journey to the past to discover how each of the elements came into existence.

The show premiered at the United Solo Festival 2018 in New York City and was later produced at Grey Studios in Los Angeles in 2019 and at New Horizon Theater in Pittsburgh in 2020.

Damu Malik Photography

Playwright and Performer

Herb Newsome* is an actor, writer, director, and all-around artist born and raised in New York City and currently resides in Los Angeles.

As an actor, his selected theater credits include The First Deep Breath and Paradise Blue (Geffen Playhouse), A Raisin in the Sun (Fresno City Theater), A Fox on the Fairway, Fences, and Twelfth Night and Break It Down (Lyric Repertory Company) Macbeth and  Richard III (Colorado Shakespeare Festival), Revenge of a King (National Arts Festival-South Africa), Take Me Out (Foothills Theater), 911: A Day in the  Life of a People and The Meeting (LAF Rep), News To Me and Riding the Turnpike (Hartbeat Ensemble) Re:Definition (HHTF), No Place To Be Somebody (Penn Stage Center Stage) and five August Wilson plays- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Kuntu Rep), Fences, The Piano Lesson, Radio Golf (Penn State Centerstage) and Jitney (Elmwood Playhouse). He has been a part of many theater festivals across the country, including the New York International Fringe Festival, The Philadelphia Fringe Festival, The National Black Theater Festival (Winston-Salem, N.C.), and around the world at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa. His Film credits include The Brother from Another Planet, Untamed, American Exit, Sweet Nothings, Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy, and Abandoned.

As a playwright, he has penned three solo shows in which he was also the performer, In Devil’s Heaven, Break It Down, and Freeman in Paris (which was honored with the 2011 Humanities Script Writing Award presented by the Institute of African American Research at UNC-Chapel Hill). His full-length play Revenge of a King, a hip-hop musical based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, has been produced in 8 cities across the country as well as at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa.

As a director, his credits include Revenge of a King for the NY International Fringe Festival, the national tour of Roll of Thunder Hear, My Cry for the National Theater of Arts and Education, Forgivable Sins, a finalist at the Samuel French One Act Festival in NYC, Sing Black Hammer and Journey of the Spirits at the Kuntu Repertory Theater, and Topdog/Underdog, Detroit ’67, Front Porch Society and Too Heavy For Your Pocket at the New Horizon Theater, and The Colored Museum for the Oakwood School He also developed and directed a One Man Show entitled Problem Child, which he co-wrote, starring Matt McManus for the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2019.

* = Member of Actors Equity Association (AEA)

Thanks to Our Festival Sponsors

Festival made possible through generous support of Boise State University, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing.




 Thank you for giving, Idaho!

Idaho Gives logo Idaho Gives was May 1-4, 2023
This year donations received during our Idaho Gives campaign will contribute to our BIPOC Playwrights Festival. Thanks to your generosity, we were able to maximize an offer from an anonymous donor to match the first the $2,500 raised at 100%! Your Idaho Gives donations and this matching gift get us over halfway to our $10,000 goal and will help house out-of-town playwrights, cover travel expenses, and provide them with stipends so they can focus on storytelling. Thank you for your kindness!


What does BIPOC stand for?

“BIPOC” stands for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.”

How can I participate in BCT's BIPOC Playwrights Festival?

Email us and let us know how you're interested in contributing:
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