NEXT ACT Playwrights

Playwrights of the Winning Submission of Next Act! New Play Summit 10

Mark Rigney (Playwright, YARTSY ON DIVISION) is the author of Deaf Side Story: Deaf Sharks, Hearing Jets and a Classic American Musical (Gallaudet), and his stage plays have been produced in twenty-three U.S. states (including off-Broadway) plus Australia, Austria, Hong Kong, Nepal, and Canada. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and a past winner of the John Gassner Playwriting Award, the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Prize, and the Panowski Playwriting Award (twice). Additional published work is available from Playscripts, Inc., Next Stage Press, ArtAge, Heartland, Applause, and multiple editions of Smith & Kraus’s The Best Ten-Minute Plays. Over seventy of his short stories have found print, in venues ranging from literary (Witness, The Best of the Bellevue Literary Review) to fantasy and horror (Lightspeed, Tales from the Magician’s Skull, Cemetery Dance). When not adding to his extensive collection of antique brewery items, he maintains lively outposts at his website,, and at the New Play Exchange.

Ajene D. Washington (Playwright, THREE MOTHERS) is an award-winning playwright, director, actor and set designer that resides in Bronx, New York. He received a B.S. degree in Speech and Drama from Lincoln University and a M.A. from Northern Illinois University. He has directed many plays and readings, such as Adam, American Menu, Slapped, Family Night, The Old Settler, and many others. His plays have received readings and performances in New York, California, Arkansas, Missouri and Nashville, Tenn. He received the BRIO award from the Bronx Council of the Arts for playwriting in 2012 and 2020. His play, I Can See, a Raging Revolt was a finalist in the TRUSpeak festival. The Arkansas Repertory Theatre selected his play, Almost September for its “Voices at the River” series. He received an AUDELCO Award for Best Director and Best Set Design, also a nomination as Best Actor. He received a nomination for Best Set Design by Lucille Lortel committee. Ajene is a member of AEA, SAG, SSDC, AFTRA, Black Theatre Network and The Dramatist Guild.

New Voices: Young Playwright Contest Winners

Jordan Moses (Playwright of UNEXPECTED LOVE) Loudonville Christian School

NextGen Playwright

MJ Johnson (Playwright, ALETHEIA) is a lifelong resident of the Capital District and is absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to work with theREP for the first time. Two of their previous plays, Face the Music and Sixty Seconds to Midnight, have been featured as part of UAlbany’s FRESH ACTS festival (2021 and 2022). They have also worked within the theater as a designer with recent credits including Projection Designer for A DREAM PLAY at UAlbany, Video Designer for CLOUDS at Columbia University, and Technical Director for UNCENSORED 2021 at MCC Theater. They are a 2022 UAlbany graduate with a BA in Theatre and in History.

The First 15 Playwrights

Lisa Dellagiarino (Playwright, COME AGAIN) Virginia-born and Chicago-based, Lisa is an associate member of the Saint Sebastian Players Theater Company, a member of the Dramatists Guild, and President of the Board of Arts For All, a NYC-based nonprofit bringing the arts to in-need youth communities. She has a BFA in Film & TV from NYU and two kids who are disappointed that she doesn’t write plays about dinosaurs.

Rich Rubin (Playwright, POWER OF BABEL) Rubin’s plays have been staged throughout the U.S. as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. Full-length plays include PICASSO IN PARIS (winner, Julie Harris Playwright Award); SWIMMING UPSTREAM (winner, Todd McNerney Playwriting Award; finalist, Reva Shiner Comedy Award); CAESAR’S BLOOD (finalist, Oregon Book Award, finalist, Ashland New Play Festival); SHAKESPEARE’S SKULL (winner, Portland Civic Theatre Guild New Play Award); LEFT HOOK (finalist, Woodward-Newman Drama Award; semifinalist, O’Neill Conference); ASSISTED LIVING (winner, Neil Simon Festival New Play Award); ONE WEEKEND IN OCTOBER (winner, Playhouse Creatures Emerging Playwright Award; semifinalist, O’Neill Conference); COTTONWOOD IN THE FLOOD (winner, Fratti-Newman Political Play Award); COSTA REHAB (finalist, Oregon Book Award); SEPTEMBER TWELFTH (finalist, Oregon Book Award; finalist, Playwrights First Award); MARILYN/MISFITS/MILLER (finalist, Julie Harris Playwright Award; semifinalist, O’Neill Conference); KAFKA’S JOKE (finalist, Woodward International Playwriting Prize; semifinalist, Jewish Plays Project); and CLASS ACT (semifinalist, O’Neill Conference). Member: Dramatists Guild, New Play Exchange and Portland’s Nameless Playwrights and LineStorm Playwrights.

Cris Eli Blak (Playwright, BROWN BODIES ON A BLUE EARTH) is an award-winning playwright whose work has garnered him the Christopher Hewitt Award in Fiction, a Pushcart Prize nomination and honors and recognition from The Negro Ensemble Company, Kairos Italy Theater, Austin Film Festival, Barrington Stage Company, TEDxBroadway, and Ignition Arts. His work has been performed around the world, from Off-Broadway, London, Canada and Ireland. He is developing new work with Derby City Playwrights and Et Alia Theater Company and is currently under commission by Rattlestick Theater, American Stage and La Lengua Teatro en Español/AlterTheater Ensemble. He was the resident playwright at Fosters Theatrical Artists Residency, is currently the playwright-in-residence at Paterson Performing Arts Development Council, is the recipient of the Michael Bradford Residency from Quick Silver Theatre Company and was in the inaugural class of fellows for the Black Theatre Coalition/Broadway Across America; and was shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Theatre Prize. He continues to strive to create work that reflects the world that we live in, with all of its different and diverse colors, creeds and cultures.

Lynda Crawford (Playwright, THE NONESSENTIALS) Crawford’s plays include Night Shadows—Or, One Hundred Million Voices Shouting, On Women Festival, Space at Irondale, Brooklyn, NY, March 2020; KP 1968 (with Peter Reich), Fenimore Arts Museum, Cooperstown, NY, 2020, and HB Studio’s Coming Apart Together Reading Series, June 2020; The Rewrite, EAT, 2019, and The Hive, Provo, Utah, 2019; Stars Out of Balance, staged reading, Planet Connections Festivity 2018; Whitewashed, 365 Women a Year Festival, Florida State University, October 2017; The Audit, HB Playwrights Theatre, June 2017, and Emerging Artists Theatre’s New Work Series, October 2015; Rojo Verde, recipient of the Greener Planet Award, Planet Connections Festivity 2017; Familiar Strangers, Planet Connections Festivity 2016; Pillow of Tears, Women Playwrights International 2015, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Strange Rain, FringeNYC 2013, awarded Overall Excellence in Playwriting. Lynda’s other writings have appeared in newspapers, journals, and the book, Titters: The First Collection Of Humor By Women (Macmillan). Lynda received an MFA in playwriting in 2001 from Brooklyn College. She is a member of HB Playwrights Forum and K/Q Playwrights. Several plays are available to read at the New Play Exchange.

Susan Spain (Playwright, GROUP) Is excited to participate in this year’s First 15 Event at Capital Repertory Theatre, where she was last seen last year in Night Vision by Dominique Morisseau as part of the 8:46 streamed event. Susan is an award-winning actor, director and writer who has appeared Off Broadway and regionally, and has narrated over 100 audio books, receiving an Earphones Award for her work. Susan has taught/coached students of all ages in acting and singing as well as the business of acting, most recently she taught young actors in an online class at Proctors. Check her out as Rose Franklin in FOX’s Our Kind Of People streaming on Hulu and Disney+. Also, look for her in the Motown tribute group, Shadows Of The 60s touring internationally since 2013 and as Lucile in Greenwood by Coolidge Harris, II at the National Black Theatre Festival in NC August 1-6, 2022. Visit her at