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The director and the playwrights

Janet Jones (Director) is a director and storyteller with executive leadership and coaching experience in healthcare, fitness, nonprofit education and the performing arts. She has worked as an actor and director in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, Tampa, and Orlando. She has performed onstage and in film under the direction of Dino De Laurentiis, David Lynch, Karen Hensel and Peter Henry Schroeder, among others. She is a graduate of Florida State University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She has 3 favorite roles – wife, mother and stepmom. This is her Nashville directorial debut.

Jackie Graham (Head Writer) is a Nashville-based playwright and dramaturg whose local collaborations have included work with Pipeline-Collective and Studio Tenn. Jackie received a bachelor’s degree in English from Hillsdale College and is an MFA candidate at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. 


Nalubowa Aidah will be graduating with a Masters in Theatre Studies from Illinois State University. She is an activist who uses theatre to sensitize communities on issues of child trafficking, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, (mis)representation of Africa, etc.  Aidah is an actor, drama coach and writer who has only recently started to share her work with the public. Her first full-length play SHADES -- which examines racial differences, perceptions and prejudices -- had its staged reading at ISU in fall 2017. Both SHADES and PODS, a 10-minute play, were accepted for the MATC 2018 Plays-in-progress and Fringe festival respectively.   


James Comtois co-founded the New York-based theatre company Nosedive Productions, for which he served as resident playwright and co-artistic director from 2000 until 2013. Nosedive Productions produced more than 20 of Mr. Comtois’ plays, including MONKEYS, RUINS, MAYONNAISE SANDWICHES, THE ADVENTURES OF NERVOUS-BOY and INFECTIOUS OPPORTUNITY. Of his work, Time Out New York said: “Comtois & Co. are mining in Gogol’s vein: they may make us laugh, but that’s what happens when keen-eyed city dwellers tickle a seedy underbelly.” The New York Times said: “Mr. Comtois joins some of today’s heaviest theatrical hitters — including Conor McPherson and Tracy Letts.” Published plays include MONKEYS, THE ADVENTURES OF NERVOUS-BOY, SUBURBAN PEEPSHOW and INFECTIOUS OPPORTUNITY. He lives in Brooklyn and has two cats. 


Matthew Freeman is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and current resident playwright at New Dramatists.  His plays have been produced throughout New York City. His audio work has been a part of the HEAR Now Festival in Kansas City and Atlanta Fringe Radio. His plays include THAT WHICH ISN’T, THE LANGUAGE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, THE LISTENERS (Nominee: Best Production - Performance Art: New York Innovative Theatre Awards 2015), and WHY WE LEFT BROOKLYN.  His plays and monologues have been published by Samuel French, Applause, Smith & Kraus, and Playscripts. Matthew is a graduate of Emerson College. 


Kirsten Easton was born and bred in the suburbs of sunny Southern California. She holds a B.A. in both Theater and Sociology from Occidental College and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Southern Illinois University. Her plays have been performed in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Houston (among others). She is currently playwright-in-residence at La De Da Performing Arts Company, in Fort Collins, CO, where she also teaches playwriting. When she’s not writing plays, Kirsten enjoys the challenge of keeping her succulents alive and befriending introverts. Check out her website at or follow her on Twitter @easton_kirsten. 


Lauren Ferebee has written plays including EVERY WAITING HEART (semifinalist, 2017 O’Neill), THE RECKLESS SEASON (finalist, 2016 Princess Grace Award), and SEXUAL GEOGRAPHY (finalist, 2015 Reva Shiner Comedy Award).  Critics have praised her writing as “exquisite” and “a fine balance between laugh-out-loud absurdity and gut-wrenching human drama.” Upcoming highlights include a reading in Chicago at Artemisia’s 2018 Fall Festival and three monologues featured in the 2018 Best Stage Monologues series (Smith & Kraus). She was a nominee for the 2016 USA Fellowship in theatre and will be studying for her MFA at the University of Arkansas in Fall, 2018.


John Kishline has been making professional theatre for 45 years in 200+ professional productions in 28 of the United States and Holland, England, Wales, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, India (U.S. State Dept. tour) and Japan. He has 14 produced plays and helped create 50 more from scratch. He was a founding member of Milwaukee’s Theatre X. His work has been nominated for national and regional awards and won an OBIE Award from the Village Voice in 1978. He's also done feature films and network TV. He is married to Deborah Clifton and lives in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.


David Ian Lee is an internationally produced playwright, with recent productions of his work in Canada, South Africa, Scotland, and Greece. He is an actor and director, having worked in New York for companies including Pearl Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Source, Boomerang, Gideon, and Flux Ensemble; for regional theatres including Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Rep., Arizona Rep., Tennessee Rep.; and classical companies including New York Classical Theatre, Arkansas Shakespeare, Illinois Shakespeare, Sedona Shakespeare, Utah Shakespeare, and Nashville Shakespeare. David received his MFA in Directing from Illinois State University. Favorite credit: his son, Beckett Harrison Lee.  For more information, please visit


Artemis Lynne is a writer, director, and activist based in Chicago. Previous work includes STOP.RESET (Goodman Theatre), BEAUTY'S DAUGHTER (American Blues Theatre), and TWO TRAINS RUNNING (Goodman Theatre). She is in awe of the survivors whose stories she is honored to tell, and the work of End Slavery Tennessee. 

Brenda Withers is a playwright, actor, and founding member of the Harbor Stage Company, an artist-run ensemble on Cape Cod.  Her plays have been presented at PS122, Gloucester Stage, Amphibian Stage Productions, Urbanite Theatre, and Portland Stage and include The Ding Dongs, Northside Hollow(w/Jonathan Fielding), The Kritik, and String Around My Finger. Onstage she has appeared at places like Actors Theatre of Louisville, Geva Theatre Center, McCarter Theater, the Folger, and Hartford Stage.  Brenda studied drama and religion at Dartmouth College and is currently a playwriting fellow at the Huntington Theatre.

Shawn Whitsell is an actor, activist, poet, journalist, teaching artist and the Founder/Artistic Director of the Destiny Theatre Experience. He has written, produced and directed a number of theatrical works. He has also worked with Nashville Repertory Theatre, Nashville Children's Theatre, Actor's Bridge Ensemble, Dream 7 Theatre Productions, SistaStyle Productions and Street Theatre Company (where he serves on the Board of Directors). When he's not performing, Shawn visits schools, prisons, libraries and community centers, teaching drama and spoken word for Southern Word, Tennesee Women's Theatre Project and other institutions. Follow him on IG at: @shawn_whitsell and @destinytheatreexperience. 

This event is presented under the auspices of
the Actors' Equity Association Members' Project Code. 

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