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Two-week virtual festival of new work by Echo’s ‘National Young Playwrights in Residence’

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Press Contact: Lucy Pollak or (818) 887-1499 (for media only)



Echo’s National Young Playwrights in Residence mentorship
program culminates with 2-week virtual
festival of new work


LOS ANGELES (Nov. 9, 2020) — The Echo Theater Company’s innovative National Young Playwrights in Residence program culminates in a two-week “virtual festival” of free online readings Nov. 13 through Nov. 21.

Created to nurture the next generation of playwrights, the program offers a transformative way for new writers to fearlessly create bold new work with the support of a professional artistic community. Selected from over 200 applicants, this year’s crop of young playwrights, ages 18-26, includes six original voices from across the U.S., representing a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds.

Each was paired with an established, professional playwright, with whom they worked, via video chat and voice calls, to create a new play.

Plays created by 26-year-old CL Byrd from High Point; NC; 25-year-old Xavier Clark, who grew up in Turkey before earning his BFA and MFA in the U.S.; 22-year-old Norma Lilia Ruiz Cruz, from Tijuana, MX, now a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma; 23-year old Yael Haskal, currently based in New York City; 20-year-old Phanésia Pharel, a first-generation Haitian American who is a junior at Barnard College; and 19-year-old Rachel Saruski, the granddaughter of Cuban refugees who is a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College, will receive online readings on the following schedule:

Friday, Nov. 13 at  5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET:
Black Girl Joy, written by Phanésia Pharel; mentored by Chiara Atik; directed by Regina Taylor; and featuring Troy Leigh Anne Johnson, Bukola Ogunmola, Angeleck Richardson and Clarissa Thibeaux
Four girls come together to share their story at the Black Girl Joy Center for Vulnerable Youth in Miami in this ritual play that shifts between memory, choreo poems and a juicy plot.

Saturday, Nov. 14 at  5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET:
Alice, written by Yael Haskal; mentored by Dominic Finocchiaro; directed by Hollye Hudson
Reality begins to fracture when high school student Alice Carney begins an AP Psychology project on homicidal sleepwalking in Byrd’s feminist study on dissociation, portraiture and the latent power of the supine woman.

Sunday, Nov. 15 at  5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET:
Over the World, written by CL Byrd; mentored by Mike Batistick; directed by Ahmed Best
A test subject is pushed to the edge during a new experiment.

Thursday, Nov. 19 at  5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET:
The Man Who Lived Five Lives, written by Rachel Saruski; mentored by Kira Obolensky; directed by Vicki Pearlman
Taking place over the course of nearly 90 years, Jose Morel lives five lives in one across the world, from Turkey to Israel, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Miami. This play follows his soul through death, marriage, separation, battle, heartbreak and everything in between.

Friday, Nov. 20 at  5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET:
Where Angels Fear to Tread, written by Xavier Clark; mentored by Boni B. Alvarez; directed by Kareem Fehmy
An impossible love story, viewed through the lens of the 1971 and 1980 Turkish military coups, about the troublesome consequences of exoticizing the Middle East. When Harlem “royalty” Sterling and Betsy find themselves in Turkey for Betsy’s cabaret tour, they venture into unknown parts of Istanbul. There, they encounter Tanju, a male belly dancer by night and fortune teller by day, and their lives are changed forever.

Saturday, Nov. 21 at  5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET:
Agnes, written by Norma Lilia Ruiz Cruz; mentored by Bernardo Cubría; directed by Alana Dietze
Claudia, a Mexican-American woman living in San Diego, encounters her past on her 30th birthday when 15-year-old Agnes shows up at her door, claiming to be her daughter.

Founded in 1997, the Echo Theater Company has gained a reputation for producing and developing exciting new work. NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM recently declared that “Echo Theater Company is on a fierce journey.” The Echo has won countless Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly and Stage Raw awards, and is frequently cited on end-of-the-year “Best of Lists” including by the Los Angeles Times, LA Observed and KCRW, among others. The company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly and was a recipient of a “Kilroy Cake Drop” to honor its efforts to produce women and trans writers. Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Artistic directors of theaters of all sizes would be wise to follow the [lead] of the Echo’s Chris Fields, who [is] building audience communities eager for the challenge of path-breaking plays.”

To view any or all of the readings, find the links at