Erika Dickerson-Despenza

Erika Dickerson-Despenza is a Blk feminist poet-playwright, cultural worker, educator and grassroots organizer from Chicago, Illinois. One of America’s most in-demand rising playwrights, her recognition includes: Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist (2021), Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award (2020), Thom Thomas Award (2020), Lilly Award (2020), Barrie and Bernice Stavis Award (2020), Grist 50 Fixer (2020), and the Princess Grace Award in Playwrighting/Fellowship at New Dramatists (2019). Her residencies and fellowships include 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). Memberships include BYP100 Squad, Ars Nova Play Group (2019-2021), and Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Obie-winning Youngblood collective, and her work has been commissioned by The Public Theater, Studio Theatre, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Dickerson-Despenza ‘s work has been developed at The Lark, Vineyard Arts Project, New York Stage and Film, Public Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Fault Line Theatre and Jackalope Theatre. Her plays include ocean’s lip/ heavn’s shore, took/tied, hung/split, and shadow/land.  Her work cullud wattah, following intergenerational women impacted by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, was scheduled to premiere at New York’s Public Theater in 2020 (postponed due to the pandemic). Both shadow/land and [hieroglyph] were named in 2019 to Kilroys List, the playwrights/producers/directors industry recognition of excellent new plays by women, trans, and non-binary playwrights.


[hieroglyph], 2021, San Francisco Playhouse | Lorraine Hansberry Theatre co-production