TheaterWorks Hartford Announces 2022 NEW WORK FESTIVAL With Plays by Brooke Berman, James Anthony Tyler & More

Directors include Shariffa Ali, Michael Barakiva, Mikael Burke, and Caitlin Sullivan.

By: May. 04, 2022

TheaterWorks Hartford Announces 2022 NEW WORK FESTIVAL With Plays by Brooke Berman, James Anthony Tyler & More

TheaterWorks Hartford will present the 2022 edition of its New Work Festival. This free festival, running May 16-22, explores and celebrates new voices in American Theater. With workshops, a panel discussion, and talk-backs-both in-person and online-the New Work Festival strengthens TheaterWorks Hartford's commitment to the development of important new plays. Participants include playwrights Brooke Berman, Melissa Crespo & Sarah Saltwick, Terry Guest, and James Anthony Tyler who are joined by directors Shariffa Ali, Michael Barakiva, Mikael Burke, and Caitlin Sullivan. Reservations are required and can be made at

Producing Artistic Director Rob Ruggiero said, "We gave four exceptional playwrights space, time and support to develop their plays with a team of multi-talented artists to bring each project to the next stage in its developmental journey. Along with readings of these plays-in-progress, we'll host a talkback for each play. We're also excited to host a live conversation with new play experts about what the future of new work in American theater looks like"

In-person events as part of the New Works Festival will take place at TheaterWorks Hartford's beloved home, located at 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT. All events are free with reservation. Please visit or call 860.527.7838 for more information.

TheaterWorks Harford is a fully vaccinated house and requires all patrons to show proof of vaccination and to be fully masked inside the building.


The Drop Off

May 16-22, online reading streaming

May 20 at 7pm, online talkback

By James Anthony Tyler

Directed by Shariffa Ali

The heartfelt and moving story of a mother/daughter relationship overcoming the challenges of Alzheimer's, aging and the past. At Deer Lakes Assisted Living Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, Allain drops off her mother Delphina who has the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. When Delphina refuses to stay at the facility, memories of loss, dreams broken and an impending eviction come to the surface in a way that may break this mother and daughter bond forever. A universal and touching story by the writer of Talkin' To This Chick Sippin Magic Potion.

Dearly Beloved

May 21 at 2pm, live on stage in-person reading

May 21 at 3:45pm, live on stage in-person talkback

By Brooke Berman

Directed by Michael Barakiva

A witty, Gen-X coming-of-age comedy set in the East Village when it was still the East Village. A three-character coming-of-age comedy set in the East Village when it was still the East Village in New York when it was still New York. A valentine to the unique friendship between mostly-straight women and definitely-queer men. Full of acerbic wit and Gen X references, this play speaks to the moment when the generation whose friends were family must face the inevitable - growing up.


May 21 at 4:30pm, live on stage in-person discussion following by cocktail reception

New Work Panel Discussion w/ Rob Ruggerio, Tracy Brigden, Michael Barakiva and Jocob

Rob Ruggerio is joined by new work experts Tracy Brigden, former Artistic Director of Pittsburgh's City Theatre, Michael Barakiva, former Artistic Director Ithaca's Hangar Theatre and Jacob Padrón, Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre, in a lively discussion about what makes a great play, the crazy journey of a script from idea to production and where the American Theater is headed in a post-pandemic world.


May 16-22, online reading streaming

May 21 at 7pm, online talkback

By Melissa Crespo & Sarah Saltwick

Directed by Caitlin Sullivan

A provocative psychological thriller that draws us into the mind of an architecture professor struggling to share her expertise while facing her own fears. You have just moved to a small college town to teach architecture. You have trouble sleeping. Sometimes, you lose track of time. You realize that your fears have followed you. You have no one to confide in, not your roommate, not your students, not the prosecutor who needs you to testify as a key witness. You can't sleep. You're considering buying a gun. You don't want to want a gun. A gripping and powerful examination of responsibility and accountability in this moment in America.

Andy Warhol Presents: the Cocaine Play

May 16-22, online reading streaming

May 21 at 1pm, online talkback

By Terry Guest

Directed by Mikael Burke
A surreal and emotional examination of fame, art, beauty, love and betrayal through the lens of Andy Warhol and friends, reimagined as Black characters. Andy Warhol (not that Andy Warhol), Edie Sedgewick (not that Edie Sedgewick), New York City (not that NYC) even Marilyn (not that Marilyn) are all black characters who collide in a story loosely based on Warhol's Factory Scene of the 60s and 70s. Edie and Andy are BFFs but Andy loves Edie's husband Michael who happens to be a brilliant artist. A surreal and moving examination of fame, art, beauty, love and betrayal.

About the Artists

Shariffa Ali (director) born in Kenya and raised in South Africa, is an international creative leader, director, and academic committed to advancing radical change through the power of art and activism. As a filmmaker, Shariffa's works have been featured at acclaimed film/VR festivals & institutions worldwide including Sundance Film Festival (USA); Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (South Africa) and more. Past theater productions include Eclipsed, Detroit '67, Intimate Apparel, We Are Proud to Present, and an original new musical called We Were Everywhere.

Brooke Berman (playwright) is a playwright, filmmaker and memoirist. Her plays, including Hunting and Gathering, Smashing and A Model City, have been produced across the U.S. and internationally at theaters including Steppenwolf, Primary Stages, 2nd Stage and developed at The O'Neill, The National Theatre Studio in London, Williamstown Theater Festival, Naked Angels and others. She has written films for Natalie Portman, The Mark Gordon Company, Vox Films, Fugitive Films and Red Crown. Brooke wrote and directed the short fiilm UGGS FOR GAZA, which premiered at the Aspen International ShortsFest where it won Audience Special Recognition. She is currently in production for her feature debut, RAMONA AT MIDLIFE. Brooke's memoir No Place Like Home is available on Audible.

Michael Barakiva (director) is a director and writer based in NYC. He is the Founder and Creative Director of Novel Readings (, a company that uses the performance of text to produce social justice events and to help writers develop their work. His latest book, These Precious Stones (Macmillan FSG), a contemporary epic queer protagonist YA fantasy novel, will be published in Winter 2024. The Juilliard School, Vassar College.

Mikael Burke (director) is a Chicago-based director, deviser, and educator. A Princess Grace Award-winner in Theatre and Jeff Award-nominated director, his recent directing credits include the world premiere of The Magnolia Ballet by Terry Guest, Fireflies by Donja R. Love, Mrs. Harrison by R. Eric Thomas, we are continuous by Harrison David Rivers, Kill Move Paradise by James Ijames, and The Agitators by Mat Smart.

Melissa Crespo (playwright) is most known as director of new plays and musicals, and opera. Recent: world premiere of Justice, Book by Lauren Gunderson, Lyrics by Kait Kerrigan, Music by Bree Lowdermilk (Arizona Theatre Company). Yoga Play by Dipika Guha (Geva Theatre Center). Upcoming: Sheepdog by Kevin Artigue at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Melissa received her M.F.A. in Directing from The New School for Drama. She is the Associate Artistic Director of Syracuse Stage.

Terry Guest (playwright) is a Chicago-based playwright, actor, director and teaching artist. Works include: The Magnolia Ballet (2022 National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere), A Ghost in Satin (Williamstown Theater Festival), At The Wake of a Dead Drag Queen, Marie Antionette and the Magical Negroes, The Madness of Mary Todd, and Michael Jackson and the Devil's Book.

Sarah Saltwick (playwright) is a playwright based in Austin, TX, a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin and was a Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis. Recent productions include The Pleasure Trials at Amphibian Stage Productions, Egress, co-written with Melissa Crespo, at Amphibian and Salt Lake Acting Company. She is also a Co-Director of Holden & Arts Associates, a theatrical booking agency.

Caitlin Sullivan (director) is a director and theater maker based in New York City. Recent work includes Sanctuary City (Martyna Majok/NYTW) and Ole White Sugah Daddy (Obehi Janice/WP Theater). She is currently developing new pieces with The Bengsons, Sarah Einspanier, Deepali Gupta, Obehi Janice and Martyna Majok. Born and raised in Boston, Caitlin is a graduate of Williams College, an alum of the Drama League Directors Project, and a New Georges Affiliate Artist.

James Anthony Tyler (playwright) TheaterWorks Hartford: Talkin' To This Chick Sippin' Magic Potion. James is the recipient of the 3rd Annual Horton Foote Playwriting Award, and currently has a McKnight National Residency and Commission via The Playwrights Center and is a member of Circle X Theatre Company's Evolving Playwrights Group. His plays include Artney Jackson (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Some Old Black Man (Berkshire Playwrights Lab), and Dolphins and Sharks (LAByrinth Theater Company and Finborough Theatre in London). MFA Howard University and NYU. The Juilliard School graduate.

About TheaterWorks Hartford

Celebrating its 36th season, TheaterWorks Hartford (TWH) produces high quality, contemporary theater that is relevant to our audiences, engages a diverse community, and provides insight into the human experience. TWH is committed to the power of storytelling in creating community. Founded in 1985, TWH has produced over 170 plays and presents approximately 225 performances per season. TWH also owns and manages the historic property at 233 Pearl Street, known as City Arts on Pearl. City Arts provides an affordable home and services to a diverse family of non-profit arts organizations.

For updates on TheaterWorks Hartford, visit here and follow on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.


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