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  • Angela Allyn

Bramble Theatre Company Announces Festival of Unfinished Work

Bramble Theatre Company is thrilled to announce its inaugural Festival of Unfinished Work, May 20-22, 2022. Six 10-minute scenes from unfinished plays that are currently in development will be presented each night. The festival includes scenes from Batshit by Olivia Lindsay, Fire by Coal by Laura Duncan, How to Murder the Super Scary Predatory High Interest Student Loans That Have Saddled an Entire Generation with So Much Debt No One Will Ever Be Able to Buy a House or Have Kids; or, Why Can't You Just Stop Buying Avocado Toast? by Karissa Murrell Myers, LOVE STORY! by Kallan Dana, MetaMorphic by Dolores Diaz, and Millennial Church by Leah Roth Barsanti. Performances will be at The Newport Theater.


Bramble Theatre invited over fifty Chicago-based playwrights to submit pages of work from an unfinished play that fit the theme, Fruit + Thorns. The theme refers to the idea that the fruit nourishes, while the thorn challenges. From the submissions, the literary committee, comprised of Bramble Ensemble and staff, went through an extensive review process to select the top six pieces to feature for this year’s festival. Each 10-15 minute scene will be brought to life by a team of Chicago directors and actors.

“You can expect a little taste of everything - from a farcical comedy about mistaken identity to a dark drama set in an unincorporated Kentucky town, this year's festival will span the gamut between sweet and thorny,” Festival Literary Manager Spencer Huffman reveals.

Festival of Unfinished Work was born out of the desire to help amplify writers’ new work and provide them development resources while their plays are in progress. Bramble Theatre Artistic Director Karissa Murrell Myers explains, “When we sat down with each of our Ensemble members in 2019 to ask them what they wanted to see Bramble produce, every single one of them said, ‘new work.’ A new works festival seemed like the perfect chance to give writers a platform to have their in-development plays heard.”

“It's an unusual and exciting opportunity to stage a scene from a play that is ‘unfinished,’” adds Huffman. “Our hope is that this process will give the playwright a sneak peek of what their play could look like when it's finished and help inform their writing going forward.”

Another element of Festival of Unfinished Work is audience participation. During the 3-day Festival, the audience will be invited to vote on which pieces they would most like to see developed by Bramble Theatre. The top two plays chosen will be workshopped and produced as staged readings in Fall 2022.

“It’s also very exciting that Chicago audiences will have the rare opportunity to voice their opinion on what gets selected for programming by voting for their favorite pieces from the Festival,” says Murrell Myers.


Leah Roth Barsanti is a Chicago-based, playwright, screenwriter, and educator with an MFA from Northwestern University. Her work focuses on strong women and girls trying to make space for themselves in a world that doesn't ever make that easy. While the ultimate goal of Leah's work and life is to make the patriarchy squirm, her side goal is to use her writing to figure out what it means to be a "Millennial" in this crazy world. She is currently a teaching artist, an adjunct professor at East/West University in Chicago, and an active roller derby player with the Windy City Rollers.

Dolores Díaz is a Chicago-based Chicanx playwright originally from the border city of Laredo, Texas. Most recently, Goodman Theatre produced Zulema (2021)—in partnership with Sones de México, the Chicago Park District, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Chicago Latino Theater Alliance (CLATA), and the National Museum of Mexican Art—which toured the Chicago Parks District with a finale in Millennium Park. Díaz currently teaches at Texas Tech and will attend Tectonic Theater Project’s Moment Work Institute in summer. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s MFA Program in Writing for the Screen and Stage and serves as Dramatists Guild Representative in Chicago.

Kallan Dana is a writer and performer originally from Portland, Oregon. She has worked with Dixon Place, The Tank, The Jam at New Georges, and Permafrost Theatre Collective, and she is a member of the Citadel of Playwrights. Her play, Playdate, was directed in a commissioned workshop production at Dixon Place in September 2019. Her plays can be found on New Play Exchange and her writing has been featured on Culturebot, Broadway Beat, and Fleas on the Dog. She has studied at the National Theater Institute and graduated from Skidmore College. She is in her first year in the MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage at Northwestern University.

Laura Duncan is a theatre maker and storyteller. She is thrilled to have been invited by Bramble Theatre to share in this process. Laura sends many thanks to those who have lent their time and expertise to help shape this piece. She especially wants to shout out “The Lab,” hosted by Kara Davidson and Matthew Muñiz, for being an invaluable resource in the early stages of this work. Laura is very grateful for this opportunity and looks forward to sharing her story.

Olivia Lindsay is a Chicago-based actor, playwright, visual artist, and musician. She has worked with Midsommer Flight, Improv Playhouse, Broken Bell Reads, and The Apartment Showcase. Olivia is a graduate of the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and Kenyon College.

Karissa Murrell Myers is a Chicago-based hapa Filipino American theatre artist who works professionally as a playwright, actor, casting director, and producer. She has a MFA in Performance from University of Hawaii at Manoa, and is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf. Her play On the Greenbelt was a semi-finalist for the 2021 Blue Ink Awards, a nominee for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and will have its world premiere in April 2022 at Strawdog Theatre, directed by Jonathan Berry.


May 20-22, 2022

Friday/Saturday at 9 PM, Sunday at 7 PM


The Newport Theater - 956 W. Newport Ave., Chicago, IL 60657


Tickets can be purchased through EventBrite and also via Newport Theater.


Karissa Murrell Myers, Producer


Matthew Lunt, Producer



Bramble Theatre Company is an ensemble of multicultural artists who tell new and reimagined stories. The bramble bush symbolizes the duality of the fruit that nourishes and the thorn that challenges. Made of many tangled vines, it remains a single, united organism. Embracing this philosophy, Bramble Theatre Company seeks to ignite empathy, defy the status quo, and provide nourishment for the soul. The ensemble members empower each other to take risks and create brave work, but without using techniques that cause harm or trauma.

For more information on Bramble Theatre, please visit or follow them on social media @BrambleTheatre on Facebook and Instagram.

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