Erika Dickerson-Despenza

Erika Dickerson-Despenza is a Blk, queer feminist poet-playwright, cultural worker, educator and grassroots organizer from Chicago, Illinois. She’s a 2020 L. Arnold Weissberger Award Finalist, the recipient of the 2019 Princess Grace Playwriting Award and the 2019-2020 Tow Playwright-in-Residence at The Public Theater, where she is also under commission. Erika is a 2020 Grist 50 Fixer and was a National Arts & Culture Delegate for the U.S. Water Alliance’s One Water Summit 2019. Residences and fellowships include: Writers’ Gathering Jerusalem Writer-in-Residence (2019), New York Stage and Film Fellow-in-Residence (2019), New Harmony Project Writer-in-Residence (2019), Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow (2018-2019) and The Lark Van Lier New Voices Fellow (2018). Erika’s work has also been developed at Vineyard Arts Project, The Public Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Fault Line Theatre and Jackalope Theatre. She is a 2019-2020 member of Ars Nova Play Group and a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Obie-winning Youngblood collective. Current plays in development include: ocean’s lip/ heavn’s shore, took/tied; hung/split, shadow/land, and cullud wattah (2019 Kilroys List; Public Theater, 2020). In addition to this water tetralogy, Erika is developing a 10-play Katrina Cycle, including [hieroglyph] (2019 Kilroys List), focused on the effects of Hurricane Katrina and its state-sanctioned man-made disaster.

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