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Syracuse Stage Hosts Panel Discussion About Female Playwrights

The panel is on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

Syracuse Stage Hosts Panel Discussion About Female Playwrights

Playwrights Dipika Guha ("Yoga Play" at Syracuse Stage through Feb. 6), Hilary Bettis and Joy Meads join Syracuse Stage associate artistic director Melissa Crespo and moderator and arts journalist Kelundra Smith for a panel discussion "Inside the Kilroys List" on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

Hosted by Syracuse Stage and sponsored by the Syracuse University Humanities Center and the Goldring Arts Journalism and Communications Program at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, the panel discussion is a free event accessed over Zoom. Advance registration is required to join the discussion and available at The discussion will last approximately 45 minutes followed by a Q&A session.

Founded in 2013, the Kilroys theater collective is dedicated to addressing gender inequity in American theater and has generated more than 100 professional productions of works by female, transgender and/or non-binary playwrights. Joy Meads was a founding member and Hilary Bettis is a current member of the Kilroys collective.

"It is our hope that this discussion will give a history of the Kilroys list, how it came into existence and why such a list was seen to be so crucial, and illustrate how theaters like Syracuse Stage can and do make use of it," said Eric Grode, director of the Goldring Arts Journalism and Communications Program.


Hilary Bettis is a critically acclaimed playwright whose work has been developed and produced all over the country including The Roundabout Theatre, New Georges, The Sol Project, Miami New Drama Studio, Alley Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop and La Jolla Playhouse, among others. Accolades include Edgerton Foundation, New Play Awards, National Endowment for the Arts Grant and a finalist for the Blackburn Prize, Kendeda Awards, Nuestra Voces National Playwriting Competition, American Blues Theater's Blue Ink Award, among others. In television, Bettis won the 2019 Writers Guild of America Award for her work on the critically acclaimed, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning series "The Americans." She wrote for the Hulu miniseries "The Dropout," starring Kate McKinnon. She's an alumni of The Sundance Institute Episodic TV Lab and is developing projects for AMC, Hulu, PatMa and Netflix. She's a graduate of the Juilliard School. Proud member of WGAEast.

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Melissa Crespo is a director of new plays, musicals and opera. Upcoming as a director is the world premiere of "Justice," book by Lauren Gunderson, music by Bree Lowdermilk and lyrics by Kait Kerrigan (Arizona Theatre Company). As a playwright, her play "Egress," co-written with Sarah Saltwick, will receive an NNPN rolling world premiere at Salt Lake Acting Company. Fellowships and residencies include: Time Warner Fellow (WP Theatre), Usual Suspect (NYTW), The Director's Project (Drama League), Van Lier Directing Fellow (Second Stage Theatre), and the Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow (Arena Stage). Melissa received her M.F.A. in directing from The New School for Drama. She is a founding editor of 3Views on Theater and was featured in the 2020 Broadway Women's Fund "Women to Watch on Broadway."

Dipika Guha is a Los Angeles based, Calcutta-born playwright raised in Russia, India and the United Kingdom. Her plays include "Yoga Play" (South Coast Rep, Gateway, Moxie Theatre and San Francisco Playhouse), "The Art of Gaman" (Theatre 503 London, Relentless Award semifinalist) and "Unreliable" (Kansas City Rep). Recent commissions include "Azaan," a play for Oregon Symphony, "In Braunau" for Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, contributions to "You Across From Me" (Humana, Actors Theatre of Louisville) and "Getting There" for New Conservatory Theatre Center. She is a current Venturous Fellow with the Lark for her play "Passing," was a Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and was the inaugural Shakespeare's Sister Playwriting Fellow. Dipika is currently under commission from South Coast Rep, Manhattan Theatre Club and Barrington Stage. For television, she's written for projects in development at AMC the series "Sneaky Pete" and currently writes for "Black Monday" on Showtime. She earned her undergraduate degree at University College London, won a Frank Knox Fellowship to Harvard University and has an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama under Paula Vogel.

Joy Meads is Director of Dramaturgy and New Works at American Conservatory Theater. Previously, Meads was Literary Manager/Artistic Engagement Strategist at Center Theatre Group, Literary Manager at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Associate Artistic Director at California Shakespeare Theater. She has also developed plays with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, NYTW, Berkeley Rep, Denver Center, the O'Neill, among others. Meads is a co-founder of The Kilroys.

Kelundra Smith (moderator) is a storyteller whose mission is to connect people to cultural experiences and each other. A Georgia native, she got into theatre because that's where teachers put the kids who talk too much in class. As a playwright, she has a passion for southern historical narratives and writing stories about people who no one else sees. In her other life, she's sometimes a theater critic and arts journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, American Theatre, Bitter Southerner, ArtsATL, Atlanta Magazine, etc. Her long-term goals are to land on The New York Times bestseller list, open a late-night dessert restaurant and have her plays adapted for television.

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