GIRL IN THE RED CORNER Wins Outstanding Original Play, Outstanding Choreography At 2017 Helen Hayes Awards


Much of Monday night is a blur. Whatever I said onstage is definitely a blur. Video exists, and at some point I’ll watch it. But I’d like to live under the illusion that I didn’t babble for a while longer. This show was not so much a labor of love as an act of faith. Faith that I could go from concept to a production-ready script in less than a year. Faith in my fellow Welders to have my back the entire way. Faith in Amber McGinnis to direct this thing within an inch of its life. And faith that a story like this would resonate–that there was something about a woman learning what it takes to walk into a cage (into many, varying cages) and fight. Turns out I placed my faith in the right people. And while this was by no means an easy process–the rewriting process was the hardest, most stressful of my life–I loved every minute of it.

So…what’s next?

GIRL IN THE RED CORNER Nominated For Charles MacArthur Award For Outstanding New Play

203_Girl in the Red Corner-(ZF-4253-05143-1-203)On Monday night as the Helen Hayes Award nominations were announced I learned that not only was GIRL IN THE RED CORNER nominated for the Charles MacArthur Award For Outstanding New Play, but that everyone else nominated in that category were DC playwrights–Gwydion Suilebhan, Audrey Cephaly, the Happenstance Theatre crew, and a co-writers of YOU OR WHATEVER I CAN GET at Flying V Theatre. What a great group to be part of!

Our fight director, Cliff Williams, was also nominated for Best Choreography! He was a fantastic collaborator and an integral part of a process that I write about in detail in an upcoming issue of Fight Master magazine–the Society of American Fight Directors industry magazine. So if you’re a fight director and want to learn how we recreated the violence and fluidity of MMA on stage, check it out.

For those on the New Play Exchange, the full script of GIRL IN THE RED CORNER is available at And if you’re not on NPX, shoot me an email.


Diving Into The Gravity Well Of GIRL IN THE RED CORNER


Rehearsals for The Welder’s GIRL IN THE RED CORNER start next week, but I’ve been deep in the gravity well of this show for a while now. As the first lead producing playwright of this generation of The Welders Playwrights’ Collective, all show-related decisions stop with me, not just script-related ones. I’ll also be doing most of the posting of The Welders’ blog for the duration, but I’ll do my best to repost here as well. In the meantime…

Want to learn how I got the idea for a play about a woman learning mixed martial arts? 

Want to read about my first trip to an MMA event?

Want to buy tickets? Of course you do! 


A Glorious, Brand New Year

It’s gonna be a big year. One way or another.

This year will see me, with the help of seven other amazing artists, take the reigns of The Welders. It will see the premiere of a site-specific walking tour, rehearsals for which begin in the next few weeks. It will see the Great Agent Hunt of 2016, which has already begun. It will include at least two new projects so nascent I can’t even hint at them yet. It will hopefully have 100% fewer car accidents.

It will also see me adding to this site on a regular basis. Or if not this site–if I decide to tear this site down like I’ve been considering–then somewhere else.

In the meantime, cheers to coming year, glorious and new.

Packing Away The Tassels

This past weekend saw the final performance of THE LAST BURLESQUE.


We ended with one of the best shows and best audiences of the entire run. We’re all pretty proud of ourselves around here.


Now comes the inevitable post-show malaise.



But before that kicks in, I just want to say that there were a lot of people whose hard work and dedication got us to that closing performance. Firstly, there were Pinky Swear Productions’ leaders Allyson, Karen and Toni Rae who, three years and nine drafts ago, committed to developing and then producing LAST BURLESQUE. They were never anything but supportive and enthusiastic.



Even when it became the biggest, most complex show Pinky Swear has ever tackled.



Then there was Amber Jackson, who decided to sign on with a playwright she’d never worked with before on a play that was, when she first read it, still a few solid drafts away from completion. She directed this show to within an inch of its life.

She’s basically a creative mastermind.



Less ego.



But more fabulous.





With her help we recruited an amazing artistic team.



And a cast of fucking fierce actors.




More fierce.




More. Fierce.




We asked them to do some pretty brave things on stage.






Okay, but more…



That’s it.

We also asked them to perform some outside the box physical feats.



They tackled everything with glorious enthusiasm.



In the end everyone came together into one of the tightest, most incredible ensembles I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.




More human.



Less dude-bro.



That’s more like it.


The audience responded with unbridled enthusiasm.



And a little…



And sometimes flat out…



And there were plenty of feels all around.





But now it’s over.



Time to return to our real lives.



But we’ll have the memories of the fantastic work we did.



I will cherish the work we’ve done together. And at the first opportunity…



Reunion tour, bitches!


In the meantime…


The Reviews That Matter Most

With The Last Burlesque, I’ve received some incredibly positive reviews. Some of them are by official reviewers and available for everyone to read. There’s this one and this one and this one.

But the ones I cherish the most will never see print.

They are:

Lisa (left) sitting next to David Kessler, whose own Fringe show, Wombat Drool, was one of my favorite's at this year's festival.
Lisa (left) sitting next to David Kessler, whose own Fringe show, Wombat Drool, was one of my favorite’s at this year’s festival.



Being told by Lisa Carr, who has seen hundreds of Fringe shows over the last ten years, that The Last Burlesque was the first she had ever felt compelled to give a standing ovation.












The woman who thanked me for writing the show’s three queer female protagonists so truthfully. Considering how many of my protagonists are queer women, I was especially gratified to hear this.




11745321_10153365351043280_2852968765789926044_nThe SOLD OUT HOUSE for our last show in the Sprenger Theatre. 175 seats sold. If I’m not mistaken, the biggest audience for anything I’ve ever written and the biggest audience for anything Pinky Swear has ever produced, and was tied for the biggest house at the 2015 Capital Fringe.


In the back row, from left to right, are Katrina Clark, Matthew Pauli, Frank Britton, Jenna Berk, Natalie Piegari, Melissa Hmelnicky, and Emma Lou Hebert. Down in front are GiGi Holiday and Reginald Richard.
In the back row, from left to right, are Katrina Clark, Matthew Pauli, Frank Britton, Vanessa Bradchulis, Jenna Berk, Natalie Piegari, Melissa Hmelnicky, and Emma Lou Hebert. Down in front are GiGi Holiday and Reginald Richard.

Sitting in the front row of that audience was GiGi Holiday—burlesque performer and teacher, who gave our cast an early lesson on how to strut and bump and grind and twirl. After the show she told me how much she loved it and praised how accurately it gets burlesque culture and the internal life of performers. I’ve heard the same thing from a number of other burlesque artists, including Cherie Sweetbottom–one of my favorite burlesque performers and a mainstay on DC stages.

I think it’s these reactions I cherish most. With The Last Burlesque, I’m writing about a culture and community that I’m not now nor have I ever been a part of, though the issues facing live theatre artists do overlap deeply with burlesque and sideshow. To be told I managed to get it right by those with a stake in having their story told truthfully is worth a hundred Post reviews.

No More Teasing. THE LAST BURLESQUE Is Open!

Two months of rehearsals paid off big last night with perhaps the best opening of a Fringe show I’ve ever been a part of. Countless hours of hard work from cast and crew were put boldly on display (along with a ton of talent and more than a little skin), and man the audience respond. I frequently refer to the audience as the final collaborator in the creative process. That has never been truer than with this show. What a difference having a good, game, giving audience makes.

Four more chances to see it at Fringe, then we move two blocks to the Trinidad Theatre for an extended run through mid-August. But considering how gorgeous that set looks right now at the Atlas, I wouldn’t wait.

Get your tickets HERE.


Pieces Of Strange: From Stray Idea To An Actual Thing That Exists In The World In Four Months

Pieces of Strange posterAround the end of January, NYC playwright and all-around artistic bad-ass Mariah MacCarthy sent out a Facebook message soliciting proposals for The Brick Theater’s FUCKFEST–a theatre festival about sex and sexuality. My first thought was: THAT IS AWESOME AND I WANT TO BE A PART OF IT (I mean, the name alone). My second thought was: I can’t produce a show in NYC. Certainly not during a summer when I’m in rehearsals for Pinky Swear’s THE LAST BURLESQUE and programming the Capital Fringe Preview and Cabaret. There was a short period of sadness followed by a third thought: If only there were a way for me to create something where all the production would happen in DC, but could still premiere in conjunction with FUCKFEST.

That was how PIECES OF STRANGE started–a collection of recorded monologues of strange, sometimes erotic, sometimes sad, sometimes disturbing stories. Think Neil Gaiman by way of Clive Barker by way of me. Twenty minutes after having the idea, I had the first draft of the first piece–“My Sweet Ann,” which is about sexual self-discovery and embracing your kinks even when no one else will. Soon I had six more monologues, each viewing issues of sex and relationships through a decidedly spec fic lens.

The Brick accepted the proposal and soon after I recruited six good, game, giving actors in Melissa Hmelnicky (who doubled as co-producer), Jon Hudson Odom, Allyson Harkey, Alina Collins-Maldonado, Gwen Grastorf, and Natalie Cutcher. I also roped in Karen Lange and Natalie Piergari, who are helping compose an original song that will get added to the album at a later date.

By March I’d finished revising the monologues, by April we’d started recording, and by the end of May all seven recordings were finalized. A podcast mic with a pop filter, a laptop, and Garageband was the extent of our tech. There were a few production hiccups, including an entire evening of recording that was lost due to the settings on Garageband changing after a software update. But otherwise, the process was surprisingly simple. Idea to completion in four months.

And now it’s online! The album became available for pre-order on Bandcamp yesterday, and will go on sale for real on June 9. If you preorder now, you’ll get “My Sweet Ann” to download immediately and access to the full album when it drops. On June 9, Melissa and I will be at the Brick for a Preview Cabaret kicking off FUCKFEST. So if you’re in Brooklyn, come on over for a little tease from the shows in the festival.

This isn’t my first adventure in audio drama, and it’s not the most elaborate. The record for that is still held by WALKING THE CITY OF SILENCE AND STONE, which to date is 7 of 9 episodes in. But it’s the first that’s been totally DIY. And probably not the last.


Melissa Marie Hmelnicky (of SISTERS OF ELLERY HOLLOW, WE TIRESIAS, and upcoming PIECES OF STRANGE and THE LAST BURLESQUE fame) is turning 30.

tumblr_inline_mpf08lrlUP1qz4rgpWe’re all very excited around here.

funny-happy-birthday-animated-imageShe could have decided to stay home and eat cake alone in her apartment.

tumblr_inline_nm3ow2BPrB1rtr2xyWhich would have made at least one feline happy.

ThebdcakebyYankeeBut would have been kind of lonely.

cat-birthdayInstead, she decided to go out and invite everyone to join her.

tumblr_inline_noo8wytGWS1qgxuo8_500At the Fringe Bar! Which means Jessie and I can walk there!

73644-avengers-happy-birthday-gif-Im-mtw6And stumble home

tumblr_mrtxcy3RgZ1rf964mo1_500So, I wish Melissa the best of birthdays

tumblr_m803uoggQw1qdqlhzo2_r1_500Which I’m pretty sure would look something like this