Chisa’s been at this playwriting stuff for a while now. She’s earned some degrees (B.A. Vassar, M.F.A. NYU), won some awards (Lilly, Lanford Wilson, Helen Merrill, GLAAD, etc.), landed some sweet gigs and residencies (Second Stage, National Black Theater, Contemporary American Theater Festival, New Dramatists, New York NeoFuturists, Blue Man Group, etc.), and written a bunch of plays (She Like Girls, Dead and Breathing, The Wedding Gift, Somebody’s Daughter, Surely Goodness and Mercy, The Subject etc.). She’s currently venturing into film, working on a project for A&E/Lifetime as well as one for Sony Pictures. And that’s all fun and cool.
But what you really need to know about Chisa is that her whole playwriting obsession started with an experience she had as a piss poor scholarship kid at a swanky private school. At said swanky private school there was an art gallery, and in that art gallery there was once an exhibit of work by a photographer who documented Americans living in poverty. As 15 year-old Chisa viewed this exhibit, one photograph in particular, one of a black woman who looked like she could’ve been Chisa’s Ma sitting next to a huge hole in her wall, prompted a classmate to go, “Ew, why doesn’t she just get that fixed.” When glaring the ignorance away didn’t prove all that effective, Chisa decided to become a playwright. (Because they can’t know what you don’t share, right?) She has since devoted herself to telling overlooked stories, and in addition to writing about poor folks and black folks and lesbians and troubled Asian girls and victims of child abuse and disabled lunch ladies, she’s repped hard off the page as well, teaching in underserved communities with such organizations as NJ SEEDS, CityParks, and CityWrights, committing to the Artistic Cabinet of the Lark Theater, and serving on countless judging panels for programs that aim to provide professional opportunities to those who might not otherwise be considered for them.