Refracted Theater Company has announced the chosen cohort for its 2022 RefrAction Lab, an eight-month playwriting lab for emerging Chicago playwrights. This year’s cohort includes Adonis Holmes, Alica Daine Benning, Ryan Oliveira, Amy Crider and Maiya A. corral with Kenyan playwright Ann Hall. The lab, which explores the development of plays through a specific entry point as a writer, concludes with a two-night public showcase in December 2022.
Refracted Theater Company Co-Artistic Directors Graham Miller and Tova Wolff comment, “RefrAction Lab is a pilot program that serves to bring together emerging Chicago playwrights into a cohort and curiosity. We ask, how can a playwright turn a question into action in a play? For eight months, our cohort will work together to build brand new theatrical works based on issues that divide, issues that dare to make the political personal and the personal universal. This lab encapsulates Refracted’s mission to celebrate curiosity as a way to foster empathy.”
Adonis Holmes (he/him/her) is a writer, performer, and comedian from Chicago. Adonis graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology. After producing, directing, and writing several shows in the Champaign-Urbana community, he began taking improv classes and performing regularly at the IO Theater. Adonis has been featured in several sketch shows across the city, including the Chicago Sketch Fest and the Best of Annoyance sketch show. He is currently a member of Devil’s Daughter Improv, an ensemble member of the Annoyance House team, Mummy, and co-artistic director of IO Theater.
Alica Daine Benning (she/she/her) is a playwright and performer from a small town in the rural southwest. She holds a BFA in acting from the University of Southern California and recently earned her MFA in writing for screen and stage from Northwestern University. Alica is passionate about telling stories that center on mental health, trauma, dysmorphia, misogyny, and the female experience. His plays explore the intersections of well-being and identity through complex, relationship-driven narratives that are poignant and darkly funny. Alica is currently based in Chicago, where in her spare time she is an amateur figure skater, rock climber, film photographer, and watcher of love-themed reality TV shows. She swears never to attend a Cubs game.
Ryan Oliveira (he/they/them) is a playwright, playwright, songwriter and solo performer. His work has been produced with Pride Films and Plays, as well as Nothing Without a Company. He has developed new plays with The New Coordinates, Broken Nose Theatre, El Semillero, Prop Thtr, Chicago Dramatists and Teatro Vivo. A Disquiet Luso-American Fellowship finalist, her play, Take Care, was also a finalist for the O’Neill Theater Conference (2020, 2021) and the New Harmony Conference (2020). As a playwright, Ryan has collaborated with The New Coordinates, 16th Street Theater and Teatro Bravo to help develop new work. He is also a karaoke enthusiast.
Amy Crider (her) has a BA in Theater and a Masters in Education from Goddard College. She was a semi-finalist for the O’Neill and the Princess Grace Award, and third place for the James Stevenson Prize. His play Fourteen won the Tennessee Williams One Act Play Contest in 2021. His novel “Disorder” was recently published by the University of New Orleans Press, where it won their Lab Prize. She produces a podcast featuring audio versions of her work, titled “Continuous Dream”, based on www.continuousdream.com. His website is www.amycrider.com.
Maya A. corral (her) is a queer Mexican storyteller and educator from the San Francisco Bay Area. She currently lives on land occupied by the Council of Three Fires where she is building an art house with her community. As an actress, director, and playwright, her work has been produced with Chicago Neighborhood Theater, University of Idaho, Florida International University, and nationally recognized at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington, DC As an educator, she practices anti-racism training and storytelling with students, exploring the intersections of art and social consciousness through playmaking and creative writing. Her storytelling explores humanity through the deep waters of loss, ancestry, and magic.
Kenya Ann Hall (RefrAction Lab Playwright) is a Chicago-based actress, screenwriter, director and playwright, raised in Oakland, CA. Her writing has been featured at the Mudlark Theater Company, Victory Gardens as part of the Each & Her Performance showcase, the inaugural Ain’t I a Woman Festival, the 2015 Northwestern Senior Writing Showcase, and received an Honorable Mention for Dr. Floyd Gaffney Playwriting. Award. His drama credits include Kill Move Paradise (assistant/Timeline Theatre), Saint Joan (Poetic Forum Collective), The Good Fight and The Lady Demands Satisfaction (Babes with Blades). She is an Artistic Associate at Prop Thtr, a graduate of Northwestern University and represented by BMG Talent.
Refracted’s mission is to disrupt socially accepted narratives by telling “the other side of the story”. By disrupting audience expectations through innovation and adaptation, Refracted inspires meaningful discourse centered on empathy and humanity.
Refracted is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was founded in 2019 in New York City by Graham Miller and Tova Wolff. As a two-year-old company, Refracted is proud to have been one of the only theaters in the country to produce two full seasons of live theater during the pandemic, harnessing its powers of creativity and innovation. Now in its third season in its new Chicago home, Refracted invites you to get involved as it redefines what theater can be in order to build a world fueled by curiosity and compassion. Visit www.refractedco.com for more information.
Photo Credit: Refracted Theater Co.’s 2022 RefrAction Lab cohort includes (top left to right) Adonis Holmes and Alica Daine Benning, (bottom left to right) Ryan Oliveira, Amy Crider and maiya a. corral.