Erika Dickerson-Despenza Headshot

Erika Dickerson-Despenza

Birth Place: Chicago, IL

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Erika Dickerson-Despenza is a New Orleans-based Black radical leftist writer, ecowomanist, and cultural-memory worker. Afrosurrealism, Afropessimism, magical realism, narrative re/memory, kinesthetic imagination and Black queer women's interiority and erotic fugitivity are conceptual preoccupations of her work. Erika's primary thematic foci are Black land legacies, Black apocalyptic ritual and environmental racism. Her work occupies sites of intimate reckoning, situating rupture in traditionally sacred or “safe” spaces to make invisible systems of environmental oppression and cultural trauma visible and ultimately ask us to consider abolitionist political ecologies. She is the creator and inaugural resident of The Ntozake Shange Social Justice Playwriting Residency, which supports distinguished women, femme, and non-binary scholar-playwrights of the African Diaspora for two-year terms. Awards: PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award (2023), The Antonyo/ Lorraine Hansberry Kinfolk Award (2023), AUDELCO/Vivian Robinson Best Play Award (2022), Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (2021), Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award (2020), Thom Thomas Award (2020), Lilly Award (2020), Barrie and Bernice Stavis Award (2020), Grist 50 Fixer (2020), Princess Grace Playwriting Award (2019). Residencies & Fellowships: Tow Playwright-in-Residence at The Public Theater (2019-2020), U.S. Water Alliance National Arts & Culture Delegate (2019), 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). Commissions: Climate Change Theatre Action, The Public Theater, Studio Theatre & Williamstown Theatre Festival. Productions: SHADOW/LAND (The Public Theater, 2023), CULLUD WATTAH (The Public Theater, 2021), [HIEROGLYPH] (San Francisco Playhouse/Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 2021). Currently, Erika is developing a decalogy traversing the Katrina diaspora rippling in and beyond New Orleans. Together, the ten works explore the politics of disgust, shame and refusal by highlighting the rupture of government intervention at the intersection of capitalism and environmental racism and its impact on dispossessed peoples.

Erika Dickerson-Despenza Photos

Erika Dickerson-Despenza Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Awards - 2022 - Outstanding Play

Erika Dickerson-Despenza, cullud wattah

Outer Critics Circle Awards - 2022 - John Gassner Award

Erika Dickerson-Despenza, cullud wattah

Erika Dickerson-Despenza Videos

Erika Dickerson-Despenza News

Actor's Express to Present CULLUD WATTAH by Erika Dickerson-Despenza Beginning Next Month

Actor's Express will conclude its 35th anniversary season with the winner of the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, cullud wattah, a play about strength and survival in a family of women.

The New Harmony Project Now Accepting Applications For 2024 Conference

The New Harmony Project announced that it is now accepting applications for the 37th annual conference to be held May 22-June 2, 2024.

Rattlestick Theater Reveals 2023-2024 Van Lier New Voices Fellows

Rattlestick Theater announced that it will host playwrights AriDy Nox and a.k. payne as its 2023-24 Van Lier New Voices Fellows.

Final Week to Submit Applications for Fault Line Theatre's IRONS IN THE FIRE

There is only one week left to apply for Irons in the Fire, the year-round new play development series from Fault Line Theatre.

4th Wall Theatre Company To Present IN THE AMAZON WAREHOUSE PARKING LOT

In honor of the 45th Anniversary of the internationally prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, 4th Wall Theatre Company is hosting a special one-night only reading of this year's Prize Winner, IN THE AMAZON WAREHOUSE PARKING LOT by U.S. playwright Sarah Mantell.  Presented on Sunday, June 4 at 7pm, the reading will be followed by a reception and conversation with the playwright.

Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of SHADOW/LAND at The Public Theater

Check out photos from opening night of The Public Theater’s world premiere staging of shadow/land!

Review Roundup: SHADOW/LAND Opens At The Public Theater

The world premiere staging of shadow/land by Erika Dickerson-Despenza opens tonight at The Public Theater. Read the reviews!

SHADOW/LAND Extends Through Late May at The Public Theater

The world premiere staging of shadow/land by Erika Dickerson-Despenza has been extended at The Public Theater through Sunday, May 28.

Photos: First Look at SHADOW/LAND at The Public Theater

Get a first look at photos of the staged world premiere play shadow/land at The Public Theater.

SHADOW/LAND World Premiere to Begin Performances at The Public Theater Next Week

The Public Theater will begin performances for the staged world premiere play shadow/land written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Lilly Award winner Candis C. Jones. See how to purchase tickets!

Playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza Releases SHADOW/LAND Playlist - Listen Here!

To celebrate the upcoming production of shadow/land, playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza has released a playlist. The production begins performances in the LuEsther Hall with a Joseph Papp Free Performance on Thursday, April 20 and runs through Sunday, May 21. shadow/land officially opens on Thursday, May 4.

Photos: Go Inside Rehearsals for SHADOW/LAND at The Public Theater

Check out rehearsal photos of shadow/land at The Public Theater!

THE WIFE OF WILLESDEN & More Lead Top Off-Broadway Shows for April 2023

What's happening off-Broadway? BroadwayWorld is helping you pick what to see next by rounding up our top recommended theatre each month. Coming up off-Broadway this April is the return of a long-running musical, a debut play by a bestselling author, and more. 

Suzan-Lori Parks' PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR to Return to The Public Theater in April

The Public Theater has announced complete casting for the remount of the theatrical concert PLAYS FOR THE PLAGUE YEAR. See performance dates and learn how to purchase tickets!

Video: Tina Fey, Erika Dickerson-Despenza & More Honored at 2023 PEN America Literary Awards

Watch video of Tina Fey and more being honored at the 2023 PEN America Literary Awards!

Erika Dickerson-Despenza and Vinod Kumar Shukla to be Honored at PEN America Literary Awards

PEN America has announced recipients of two monumental career achievement honors to be presented live at the 59th Annual PEN Literary Awards, March 2 at The Town Hall.

Broadway Buying Guide: February 20, 2023

Looking for the best deals on Broadway shows? Welcome to our new weekly guide to the most popular shows listed on BroadwayWorld. Check out which shows are selling this week, February 20, 2023.

Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Lizan Mitchell & More to Star in SHADOW/LAND World Premiere at The Public Theater

The Public Theater has announced the complete cast for the staged world premiere play shadow/land, written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones.

50th Anniversary Exhibition of Jamaican Artists Inspired By THE HARDER THEY COME to be Featured at The Public Theater

Beginning on Thursday, February 16, theatergoers will be able to visit Wheel and Come Again: The 50th Anniversary Art Exhibition of The Harder They Come on The Public Theater’s Levin Mezzanine, an exhibition of art inspired by the original film.

Edgerton Foundation New Play Awards Announce First And Second Rounds Of 2022-23 Recipients

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, has announced the recipients of the first and second rounds of the 2022-23 Edgerton Foundation New Play Awards. The awards, totaling $725,000, allow 17 productions extra time for the development and rehearsal of new plays with the entire creative team, hoping to extend the life of the world premiere play after its first run. 


Erika Dickerson-Despenza has written 2 shows including Cullud Wattah (Playwright), shadow/land (Playwright).

Erika Dickerson-Despenza has been nominated for several awards. She has been nominated for Outstanding Play (Drama Desk Awards) for her work on "cullud wattah." Additionally, she has been nominated for the John Gassner Award (Outer Critics Circle Awards) for the same play, "cullud wattah."

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