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Class of 2020

Leah Roth Barsanti is equal parts writer and activist, with special interests in educational equity, healthcare, and women’s rights. Most recently, she wrote Anxiety Play, which delves into all three of these topics and was featured as part of The Chicago Women’s Theatre Alliance New Play Development Series. Her work has been seen in South Florida, St. Louis, and the famed theatre town of Skokie, Illinois. In addition to plays, Leah writes children’s fiction about talking animals with her writing partner, Kathleen Elizabeth Kreisel. Leah’s alter-ego, Blink 1SK8E2, can be found on the track, skating with Chicago’s premiere roller derby team, the Windy City Rollers.

Pat Cavanaugh is a writer and improviser from the Greater Chicago area who has called Uptown, Chicago home for three years. Pat received a B.A. in English Writing and Political Science from Illinois Wesleyan University, where they produced a wide body of short fiction and poetry. After moving to Chicago proper and becoming involved in the improv and sketch scenes, Pat’s love for poetry and short fiction developed into a passion for screenwriting. Pat’s web series, Dear Dark Lord — a comedy-horror genre piece written/produced/scored by Pat — will be released on internets everywhere sometime in summer 2018.

Melanie Coffey grew up in Mystic, CT and has spent the last five years in New York. The first four were spent earning a BFA in film from LIU Post. This last year was spent working, living in Brooklyn’s coffee shops and writing films, television scripts, and plays. Her play I Liked You Five Minutes Ago was accepted into the NY Winter Theater Festival 2018. Most recently Melanie completed a pie-centric web series that has been picked up, which should be delicious. When not writing she makes experimental and video art films. One was screened at the Arctic Group in May 2018.

Ray Goldberg (she/her or they/them) is a Chicago-born-and-raised freelance producer and writer, currently pursuing her MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage at Northwestern University. She is a staff writer for the award-winning podcast PleasureTown and a content producer and editor for the gaming podcast Tabletop Potluck. Her work uses the lens of speculative fiction to tell comedy-dramas about underrepresented groups, especially the queer community.

Erika Hakmiller has a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Drake University and has studied at iO Theatre, The Second City, and Zanies. Her play, Lost and Found, was workshopped and produced by The New Colony’s Associate Company. In 2017 she wrote and performed with The Second City Training Center’s musical house ensemble, Infinite Sundaes, where she co-wrote a new musical, A Better Brothers Grimm. Her work has been seen at Women’s Funny Fest, Chicago Sketchfest, The New Colony, and The Mary Scruggs Works by Women Festival. Her pilot, Tour Kids, was a finalist in the 2017 Maine Film Initiative. She has been published in Word Brothel and The Belladonna Comedy. @ErikaFromMaine

Keyanna Khatiblou is a writer and performer originally from Glendale, Arizona. In May 2019, her short play My Yellow is Yours, Your Red is Mine will be produced Off-Broadway as part of the Theatre Masters National MFA Playwrights Festival. She has also been selected for The Chicago Women’s Theatre Alliance New Play Development Workshop and The Jackalope Playwright’s Lab. Her full-length play, Commute, received a reading at Prop Thtr. She has been commissioned by Evanston Children’s Theater and has performed and devised with many Chicago theatre companies, including About Face Theatre and The New Colony.

Gabi Lovelace is a graduate of Carthage College’s class of 2018, where she majored in general theatre. During her time at Carthage Gabi worked on about a dozen shows in many capacities, most notably as assistant director of Carthage’s 2017 mainstage performance of M.T. Cozzola’s Twin Set. Gabi’s plays Future Tense, which was done as part of a night of staged readings to raise awareness and money for the local mental health center, Nail Polish and Pudding Salad, and her musical adaptation of the children’s book The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, have all received stage readings at Carthage. Gabi worked as an intern at Chicago Dramatists Theatre during the summer of 2017, where she learned about theatre operations and playwriting and got to work with the loveliest people. Gabi is currently living in her hometown of Aurora, Illinois.

Tony Mantia hails from St. Louis, Missouri, but has made Chicago his home for the past decade. Despite having frosted tips in middle school, he went on to graduate from Loyola University Chicago with a B.A. in Theater, and another in Advertising/Public Relations. He’s completed the iO Training Center program and The Second City Conservatory program. For the past several years he’s been a regular house ensemble performer with The Chicago Improv Den. In 2014, his one-act play Glory Days was produced in his hometown. Since then he’s completed a smattering of other writing projects, including his first novella, Surprise! He enjoys running, reading biographies, and watching baseball as often as he can.

Emily McDermott is a playwright and comedian from Birmingham, England. She has a BA in English and Music from the University of Leeds, where she was a member of the sketch comedy troupe Fresh Milk. Her debut play, Hillary’s Kitchen, follows Hillary Clinton drinking wine with other influential women from history in the days following the 2016 presidential election results and will be performed at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival (also Emily’s directorial debut). Previously, Emily has interned with BBC News and she covered the UK General Election for Sky News last summer. Emily has a huge interest in improv and loves anything by Tina Fey or Victoria Wood. Besides writing, Emily is also a keen musician and composer.

Vynique Scot began on Earth Day twenty three years ago and has been cultivating herself ever since. She was an athlete for many years before turning to the theatre, where she began to perform during high school. She received a BA in Biological Anthropology from Boston University, where she was pre-med for two and a half years. Late last year, Vynique finished a television pilot called Ad Astra and is currently working on the second episode. She is also working on writing two feature films and a full length play.

Sharena Sigmon was born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago where her love for storytelling began. In 2012, she graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Fiction Writing, where she was selected exclusively for their Semester in LA screenwriting program. Since then, she has continued to immerse herself into the world of writing and film by attending Chicago Screenwriters Network meetings, volunteering at the Chicago International Film Festival, and collaborating with the online production company HitRECord. She is currently working on a screenplay, a TV series, and a novel, and you can probably find her at a movie theater watching the latest Marvel movie.

Patrick Vermillion is a playwright / general dude from New Jersey. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2015 and moved to scenic Brooklyn, NY shortly after where he’s lived semi-happily ever since. He has spent the past three years programming in C# by day and writing, performing, and generally annoying the tri-state area by night. Some of the things he’s proud of include the David Lindsay-Abaire award from his alma mater, winning the Del Close Marathon indie tournament with his best friends on New Greta, and the off-off Broadway premiere of his play, Jessica, going up as a winner of Sanguine Theater Company’s Project Playwright. In his downtime Patrick enjoys hanging with his massive cat Hector, walking through New York’s finest public parks, and eating literally anything.