Jessica Kahkoska

Librettist Playwright

Jessica Kahkoska is an award-winning writer, producer, and researcher/dramaturg for theatre and TV. She is most interested in work inspired by true stories, archival research, the American West, and community collaboration.

Jessica is the recipient of the National Archives Foundation’s Cokie Roberts Women’s History Fellowship the Marion International Fellowship in the Visual and Performing Arts (2-time recipient), the Marsico Visiting Scholarship at Denver University, a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellowship, and a Red Line Arts-in-Society Grant, among other awards.

In TV, she has been a Researcher and Producer on series and films at Discovery Networks (American Spirit, Seasons 1 and 2, True Crime and Shine), CNN (Viva Vegas Americana), Discovery+ / Max Originals (They Called Him Mostly Harmless), the Oxygen Network (Sins of the South, Curse of Boston), Spotify (Of Spacious Skies), and more. She has developed and written projects for the Magnolia Network, the History Channel, Peacock, Spotify, Discovery, and AMC/Sundance. She is currently staffed as a Research Producer on an upcoming ITV series.

In theatre, she is currently under new work commissions from Broadway Licensing, the Alley Theatre, Northern Stage Theatre Company, and the m12 Collective.

Her theatre piece, Wild Fire (feat. songs by Elephant Revival, SHEL, Gregory Alan Isakov, Cary Morin, and Chimney Choir), was commissioned by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (in partnership with History Colorado’s Museum of Memory) to re-open the DCPA after the pandemic shutdown, and subsequently toured to communities impacted by wildfire across Colorado. 

Her musical Agent 355 (with Preston Max Allen, directed by Estefanía Fadul) has been developed by Village Theatre, Roundabout Theatre, Bucks County Playhouse, Phoenix Theatre Company, New York Stage and Film, and Goodspeed Musicals. It received a New Play Workshop at Chautauqua Theatre Company and a 2023 workshop at Signature Theatre.

The Vermont Farm Project (with Tommy Crawford, directed by Sarah Elizabeth Wansley) is an interview-driven musical exploring farming in Vermont’s Upper Valley. The show was commissioned by Northern Stage Theatre Company in Vermont and presented as part of 2023 New Works Now in collaboration with Weston Theater Company. 

Her revisionist Western musical The Death of Desert Rose (with Elliah Heifetz, directed by Ashley Rodbro) is under commercial option and has previously received a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellowship, and residencies at Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and Goodspeed Musicals. 

Her play In Her Bones was commissioned by the Denver Center’s inaugural “Powered By Off-Center residency.” The play has been the subject of talks at History Colorado, the Western Jewish Studies Association, Denver University, and the University of Wyoming. It was featured in the 2020 Colorado New Play Summit at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and was presented in August 2023 as part of WAM Theatre’s Fresh Takes Festival in the Berkshires. 

Her piece Letters to the President (created with Michael Bello) invites 21 composers to each adapt a different letter written to a US president into song. Letters to the President premiered in 2019 to a sold-out audience at the Cooper Union in New York City and was subsequently part of The People’s Summit: Transformation produced by Level Forward/Center for Popular Democracy and featured in Goodspeed’s 2023 Festival of New Musicals. 

In 2018, she co-conceived Wild Home with Notch Theatre Company and Ashley Teague to amplify the experiences of rural communities impacted by oil and gas leasing on public lands. Wild Home has since expanded to a national scale, and received the 2020 NEA ArtWorks Grant Recipient and a 2020 Red Line Arts-in-Society Grant. 

Her other projects include Baba Yaga (with Elliah Heifetz, Iowa State University Guest-Artist-in-Residence), Nia (World Premiere: UNC Chapel Hill), Front Range Fables (World Premiere: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center), the Creede Motherhood Plays (Landlines, commissioned by the m12 Collective), and a theatrical adaptation of Anita Rodriguez’s acclaimed book Coyota in the Kitchen (directed by James Bruenger-Arreguin, Colorado Creative Corps grant). 

Her work has additionally been developed and presented by the Signature Theatre (DC), the Drama League, Roundabout Theatre Company, Ars Nova ANT Fest, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab, the American Music Theatre Project at NU, and residencies at UCROSS, Goodspeed Musicals, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Weston Theater Company, and the Chautauqua Institution.

As a dramaturg, she has supported the development of new plays and musicals Off-Broadway: (safeword., Off-Broadway premiere, by S. Asher Gelman), (We Are the Tigers, Off-Broadway premiere, by Preston Max Allen), in NYC (Salaam Medina, by Rona Siddiqui, Playwrights Horizons), (ThreeTimesFast, by Teresa Lotz and Naomi Matlow), and across the country. She has built projects that engage elders in creating telephone plays (with Laura Nova, NYC Department for the Aging), interrogate historic museum collections (Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center 3x3 Collaboration Grant), and tell the story of place via audio tour (Green Box Arts commission). She is currently the Executive VP of Programs for Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America (LMDA).

Jessica is on faculty at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, and a guest lecturer at Wesleyan University. She is a mentor with Girls Write Now 2023-2024 collaboratory.

BA: Northwestern University.
MBA (in process): State University of New York.

Authentic Talent & Literary Management and A3 Artists Agency.Jessica Kahkoska is an award-winning writer, producer, and researcher/dramaturg for theatre and TV. She is most interested in work inspired by true stories, archival research, the American West, and community collaboration.