Interview: Playwright Inda Craig-Galván and WELCOME TO MATTESON! at NJ Rep 9/28 to 10/29

Playwright Inda Craig-Galván

By: Sep. 20, 2023
Interview: Playwright Inda Craig-Galván and WELCOME TO MATTESON! at NJ Rep 9/28 to 10/29

New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep) is proud to end its successful season with the World Premiere of Welcome To Matteson! written by Inda Craig-Galván and directed by Dawn Monique Williams. It will begin performances on September 28 and run through October 29, 2023. 

Welcome To Matteson! tells the story of a suburban couple hosting a welcome-to-the-neighborhood dinner party for their new neighbors, a couple that recently relocated from Cabrini Green, Chicago's roughest housing project. The party is anything but welcoming. This play is a dark comedy about reverse gentrification and how we deal with the "other" when the other looks just like us. 

Broadwayworld had the pleasure of interviewing Inda Craig-Galván about her career and the upcoming show at NJ Rep, Welcome To Matteson!

Inda Craig-Galván is a Los Angeles-based playwright and television writer, born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. Her work explores conflicts and politics within the African - American community, grounded in reality, and with a touch of magical realism. Plays include Black Super Hero Magic Mama (Geffen Playhouse world premiere), The Great Jheri Curl Debate (East West Players world premiere), a hit dog will holler (Playwrights’ Arena/Skylight Theatre co-produced world premiere; Radiotopia podcast adaptation), and A Jumping - Off Point (Round House Theatre world premiere, Spring 2024). She is the recipient of the Kesselring Prize, Jeffery Melnick New Play Award, Blue Ink Prize, Jane Chambers Award, and Kennedy Center’s Rosa Parks Award for plays focused on social justice and/or civil rights. Her work has been developed at the O'Neill, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Ashland New Play Festival, Ojai Playwrights Conference, JAW, OSF, Orlando Shakes, Geffen Writers Room, and CTG Writers Workshop. Inda is under commission to write new plays for The Old Globe and Round House Theatre. On the TV side, Inda is Co-Executive Producer of ABC’s Will Trent and previously wrote for “The Rookie,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Happy Face,” and JJ Abrams’ “Demimonde”. Inda is an Adjunct Professor at University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts, where she received her MFA in Dramatic Writing. 

Who was the first person to recognize your talent for writing?

I had an undergrad professor who assigned us an essay as our final exam. I'd done horribly in undergrad up until this point, and this was my senior year. I wrote about my pet goldfish Blackie, our relationship, and how I felt when he died – I was an adult when I got Blackie, btw. This essay was the only "A" I got in four years of college, and the professor wrote on the cover of my blue book: "You should be a writer." I remember wishing someone had told me that sooner so I wouldn't have spent quite so much time screwing up in college. I still have that blue book.

Can you tell us a little about your education and how it encouraged your career?

Well, undergrad was a bust with the exception of that one fish essay. I went back to school much later in life to pursue a graduate degree in Dramatic Writing at University of Southern California's School of Dramatic Arts. I craved the structure and deadlines. I wanted to gain as much info as I could because I always felt that I'd been winging it in life. If I wanted to see myself as a professional, for me, grad school was a necessary step. I wrote a lot in that program and my professors were always encouraging. The first draft of Welcome to Matteson! was written in a class that Luis Alfaro taught. In a full-circle moment, I'm now teaching a course at USC, upon an invitation from Luis. I'm glad I can be there to encourage the MFA students in return.

Who are some of your favorite playwrights and writers?

Aleshea Harris, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Jiehae Park, Stephen King, and anybody/everybody who has ever even touched a script of the TV series Interview with the Vampire – that writing is exquisite!

As you have written for stage and television, what are some of the challenges of crafting shows for different entertainment mediums?

As a playwright, I'm used to doing my own thing. It comes from my head, my experiences, my emotions. When you're writing on someone else's show, you're writing to their vision and you're collaborating with a room of other writers. That's probably the biggest difference. Not necessarily a challenge, because the collaborative nature of having other voices in the room takes off a lot of the pressure that's felt when it's just you.

What inspired your play, Welcome to Matteson!?

Welcome to Matteson! was inspired by that darn flier. There's a flier referenced in the play that a character finds in their mailbox. In real life, around 2008/2009, Matteson, Illinois residents were finding similar fliers depicting masked bandits breaking into their homes. The message was "do you want these people moving into your neighborhood?" "These people" referred to the former residents of Chicago's Cabrini Green housing projects who were being relocated to several of the South Suburbs outside of the city when the then-mayor made a move for that valuable land. I saw one of the actual fliers and immediately assumed the creator was a racist white person – the people being relocated were Black – so who else could it be? The more I thought about that question – who else could it be? – the idea for this play came about. What if someone who looks like me created the fliers? What's her rationale? What internalized biases is she harboring? What happens when those assumptions are challenged by putting "these people" not just in her neighborhood but inside her home?

How do you like working with NJ Rep?

I've had a wonderful experience so far working with NJ Rep. Everyone has been so kind and welcoming, and they have a genuine zeal for supporting new work. It's rare to find a theatre with such a strong commitment to not just developing or doing readings of new plays, but to actually producing new plays. And it's like a family. Everyone working there is there because they love creating theatre together.

Can you tell us a little about the team that is bringing Welcome to Matteson! to the Long Branch stage?

This production is part of a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere. Welcome to Matteson! was featured in NNPN's last showcase of new plays – plays that had received a ton of recommendations from theatre professionals on NNPN's New Play Exchange but for whatever reasons remained unproduced. As a result of the showcase, NJ Rep immediately stepped up to bring the play to the stage. The other rolling productions are with Congo Square Theatre in Chicago and Orlando Shakes. Each has a different creative and design team, but there may be some overlap. Here at NJ Rep, I'm so excited to work with Dawn Monique Williams directing. Our cast is phenomenal – Maconnia Chesser, De'Lon Grant, Charlie Hudson, III, and Cynthia Kaye McWilliams. I'm thrilled Cynthia could join us as Patricia, because it's a role she's performed in several developmental readings of this play. I guess one upside to being on strike is that actors are available to do theatre.

What would you like NJ audiences to know about the show?

While my work is grounded in reality and the examination of social issues, it does so through magical realism. So be prepared and open to go to a slightly surprising place in the journey of this play.

 To learn more about Inda Craig-Galván please visit:

Tickets for Welcome to Matteson! are now on sale. They can be purchased by visiting or by phone at 732-229-3166. NJ Rep is located at 179 Broadway, Long Branch, New Jersey, 07740. Welcome to Matteson! will be performed on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm; and Sundays at 2 pm. There is an added performance on Friday, October 13 at 3 pm.  

 Photo Credit: Julián Juaquín.

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