Cover art of The Before and After Issue: Two chickens - one facing left, the other facing right - each with an egg behind them
DGF Fellows: Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Photo of Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Erika Dickerson-Despenza - photo by Joey Stocks for The Dramatist

Through my Fellowship, I was able to create community with incredible artists and exchange processes and critical feedback to generate stronger work, which became my first two-hander and the first work in my ten-play Katrina Cycle, shadow/land. Part family lore, part historical re/visioning, the play takes us back to August 2005. Frequent burglary and Magalee’s progressive dementia has made property upkeep an extra burden for her daughter, Ruth, who tries to persuade her to sell Shadowland—the first air conditioned hotel for Blacks in New Orleans. On the morning of The Storm, Ruth’s quest for shelter is detoured because Magalee has thrown a serious fit about having left her purse in Shadowland. Hurricane Katrina begins her ruin.

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Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Erika Dickerson-Despenza

is a Blk, queer feminist poet-playwright & cultural-memory worker from Chicago, Illinois. Awards: Susan Blackburn Prize (2021), Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award (2020), Thom Thomas Award (2020), Lilly Award (2020), Barrie and Bernice Stavis Award (2020), Steinberg Playwright Award (2020), Princess Grace Playwriting Award (2019). Select stage plays include: cullud wattah, shadow/land, and [hieroglyph].