Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Erika Dickerson-Despenza

2021 Winner

cullud wattah

Synopsis: It’s been 936 days since Flint has had clean water. Marion, a third generation General Motors employee, is consumed by layoffs at the engine plant. When her sister, Ainee, seeks justice & restitution for lead poisoning, her plan reveals the toxic entanglements between the city & its most powerful industry, forcing their family to confront the past-present-future cost of survival. As lead seeps into their home & their bodies, corrosive memories & secrets rise among them. Will this family ever be able to filter out the truth?

Cast Breakdown: 
3 Black Women, 2 Black Girls
MARION: early-mid 30s
AINEE: late 30s
BIG MA: early-mid 60s

Set/Costume Requirements:
an entirely naturalistic set is inappropriate.
less is more. leave room for the Afro-surreal.
same with costumes.

Agent: Olivier Sultan

Bio: Erika Dickerson-Despenza is a Blk, queer feminist poet-playwright and cultural-memory worker from Chicago, Illinois. She is a 2020 Grist 50 Fixer and was a National Arts & Culture Delegate for the U.S. Water Alliance’s One Water Summit 2019. Awards: Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award (2020), Thom Thomas Award (2020), Lilly Award (2020), Barrie and Bernice Stavis Award (2020), Steinberg Playwright Award (2020), Princess Grace Playwriting Award (2019). Residencies & Fellowships: Tow Playwright-in-Residence at The Public Theater (2019-2020), New York Stage and Film Fellow-in-Residence (2019), New Harmony Project Writer-in Residence (2019), Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow (2018-2019), The Lark Van Lier New Voices Fellow (2018). Communities: BYP100 Squad Member, Ars Nova Play Group (2019-2021), Youngblood Collective (EST). Commissions: The Public Theater, Studio Theatre & Williamstown Theatre Festival. Productions: cullud wattah (2019 Kilroys List) originally slated at The Public Theater, 2020 and Victory Gardens Theater, 2021. Currently, Erika is developing a 10-play Katrina Cycle, including shadow/land and [hieroglyph] (San Francisco Playhouse, 2021; 2019 Kilroys List), focused on the effects of Hurricane Katrina and its state-sanctioned, man-made disaster rippling in & beyond New Orleans.