After serving as the Chicago Regional Rep since 2013, I’ve been elected as a member of the National Council of the Dramatists Guild, to represent the Midwest/Mid-Atlantic Region.
I’m thrilled to bring on board two new Ambassadors to serve our Chicago Region, Derek McPhatter and Dolores Diaz, gifted writers who have been active participants in our Chicago Region events, and who bring fresh inspiration to the role of creating community for theatre makers in our city.
I had the pleasure of collaborating with Derek on two projects for Lyric Opera of Chicago and got to know his non-musical work through his tenure as a Tutterow Fellow at Chicago Dramatists. I first met Dolores through the DG at a Chicago Region Dramatists/Director exchange. She’s a vivid writer and a champion for other area writers. Derek and Dolores have busy careers, including exciting development and production opportunities for their work, both in Chicago and beyond. I’ve been impressed by the way they’ve made time to support and attend our local DG events. They clearly understand the value of the organization, not just in terms of advocating for author’s rights, but in terms of community-building. We “spoke” (via email) about their passion for our community and visions for their role as Ambassadors.
Cheryl Coons: Tell me a little bit about your identity as a writer.
Derek McPhatter: I write stuff for actors to do! I’m a sci-fi geek with a lot of background in music. That’s probably why my passion project is a queer black sci-fi musical, and even my “straight plays” lean into lyrical language and rhythm. Theatre is my best love as a writer, but I’ve earned stripes in other creative disciplines too.
Dolores Diaz: I am an artist from the U.S.-Mexico divide who writes about borderlands. My plays and screenplays investigate the gray areas that defy definition, the contradictions within the individual and group, and the hybrid places where the notion of “natural” is investigated, challenged, and revealed. I use boundaries as a vantage point to observe different points of view and as a means to interrogate current affairs.
CC: What do you love about being in the Chicago theatre community?
DD: The diversity of artistic expressions in the city, the Latinx community here, and the “get it done” work ethic.
DM: I really love how Chicago’s theatre community isn’t afraid of committing to production as a part of a development process. Folks are just game to try stuff out. Not to say there isn’t ego or cliques to contend with. But by and large, I’ve come to love working in Chicago because people show up to do the work. I also love (and am baffled by) how vast our theatre scene is.
CC: What’s important to you about being a DG member?
DM: DG membership helps me define my role as a theatre artist. I really value having a place to turn for best practices and advocacy. Theatre involves so many different types of creative elements, and it’s wonderful to know there’s an established, national professional organization dedicated to our work.
DD: The Guild does so much work on behalf of dramatists. From business affairs advice, to emergency funds (from the DG Foundation), to advocacy and more, it’s important to support that work by being a DG member.
CC: What’s your vision of how you might serve the Chicago Region DG members as an Ambassador?
DD: I embrace a community-based approach that builds camaraderie around a shared passion for theatre. There’s nothing like grabbing a drink in the lobby and talking shop that brings people together and facilitates information sharing.
DM: I’m looking forward to being a “connector” for the Chicago Region membership. I want to celebrate opportunities and achievements that might be a bit off the beaten path. I want to help our general membership perceive the depth and breadth of what Chicago has to offer.