Four new plays in four weeks will be fully staged at Urban Stages, 259 W. 30th Street.

May 5 to 29, 2022
Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street
Presented by The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.
Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM
$25 general admission, seniors & students $15
Box office, 212-582-5860
Festival's web page:
Critics are invited to all performances.

NEW YORK, April 11 -- One of the ways The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. (NEC) fulfills its mission to discover and nurture new, innovative works by skilled and creative artists is its NEC Cutting Edge Playhouse: Emerging Playwrights Competition, which will be mounted for the second time May 5 to 29, 2022. All performances will be at Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street. Four new plays will be presented in successive one-week runs, playing Thursdays through Sundays. Each play will be mounted with a minimal set, professional lighting and costume design by NEC veterans. They will be supported by NEC dramaturgs and directed by NEC directors to ensure professional standards. Performers will be a mix of emerging and seasoned professionals.

The scripts were drawn from submissions from emerging playwrights whose work is, at this time, unproduced.  In the competition, the plays will be judged in two ways.  The first is by a panel of professionals, which will award a spot in NEC's upcoming season to the production determined to be richest in artistic content and most ready for professional production.  Being so chosen, the play will also earn further development in an NEC workshop for a six-month period.  At the conclusion of the development period, the chosen script will be fully mounted as either an AEA showcase run or a Seasonal Showcase run.  The second is by audience selection.  Voting cards will be distributed at each performance, and the play that scores highest in this tabulation will be given a slot in NEC's annual reading series and will be considered for development toward a slot in NEC's FY 2024 season.

NEC pioneered a similar competition in 2016 at La Mama.

NEC's Emerging Playwrights Competition is funded in part by NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and Coalition of Theatres of Color. For complete info, see the festival's web page, To buy tickets, go to For further info, call 212-582-5860.


May 5-7 at 7:30, May 8 at 3:00 PM
"Unentitled" by Charles White
Directed by Florante Galvez

This play of class conflict in a Black family is set in the midst of the 2008 presidential campaign, when the country was on the verge of economic collapse and no one was safe from its fallout. Attorney Frank Saunders, a first generation achiever who married into the Black middle class, has lost his job and is determined to start a sports agency with his brother-in-law, Ben Walters. Frank plans to get the start-up cash from the sale of the summer home co-owned by Ben and by Frank’s wife, Deanna, who is Ben's sister. Ben reluctantly buys into Frank's plan but Deanna values her family history and traditions and will have none of it. The Saunders are caught up in an illusion of affluence and material success as their marriage is collapsing. Into the scene comes Aaron, a working class man from the other side of the tracks.  He brings news that he is Deanna and Ben's brother and entitled to his share of the house and all the material things he has long been denied.  His presence brings out  the best and the worst elements of the family for a reckoning that changes their lives forever.  (Runs: 1:45 incl. intermission)

Charles White (Playwright) is a founding member of Harlem Playwrights 21, a not-for-profit playwriting workshop. His play, "Gong Lum's Legacy," is being produced this season by New Federal Theatre. White has developed his work in New Federal’s Playwriting Workshop under the tutelage of Michael D. Dinwiddie, Kermit Frazier, P.J. Gibson, Laurence Holder, Cassandra Medley, and Richard Wesley.

With: Ayleen Augustine, Jo Ann Cleghorne, William “Bill” Johnson, K. Lorrel Manning, Charles Bernard Murray.

Set by Kristen Chang. Lights by Omar Jasin. Costumes by Imani Trew.

May 12-14 at 7:30, May 15 at 3:00 PM
"The Dream Chest" by Scarlett V. Finney
Directed by Gabrielle C. Archer

This sentimental family drama is anchored in the richness and depth of its protagonist, Mama Fat, who lives with her husband, Popsie, in a rented duplex in a working class Black neighborhood of St. Louis, MO. She harbors a dream for her cedar chest--an elegant trousseau with elements she has collected. It rivals the trousseaux of the high-toned white ladies she has served all her life. She dreams of dressing a real house with it. When the opportunity to finally purchase a home for it comes up, her hopes are thwarted by her spoiled son’s misadventures. Will she have to give up on her secret dream? What else does she risk losing to save her boy?

The play centers on the many desires and decisions which develop within Mama Fat, and her interactions with loved ones who gather around her kitchen table for meals. Audiences will relish it for all its complexity and humor. (Runs 1:40 incl. intermission.)

Scarlett V. Finney ( playwright) is originally from St. Louis, MO and now resides in Long Beach, California with her husband. While “The Dream Chest” is her first play, she has written several television and film scripts and is a published poet, graphic designer, and retired jazz singer.

With: Camarey Chambliss, Soyini Crenshaw, Michael Gaines, Alleyne Owen, McKenna Pappas, Monique Pappas, Cynthia St Juste.

Set by Kristen Chang. Lighting by Omar Jasin. Costumes by Kathy Roberson.

May 19-21 at 7:30 PM, May 22 at 3:00 PM
"#NWORD" by Christian Elder
Directed by DeMone Seraphin

A psychological drama dealing with issues of trust, race, intimacy, addiction and betrayal. Vaughn, a Black entrepreneur and mother of an eight-year-old boy, confronts Mack, a white real estate broker at an open house in SoHo. A video posted online has captured Mack's daughter calling Vaughn's son the "n-word" on the school bus. The incident brings together the children's parents and accusations of racism are debated between the school administration and both couples. Several months after this charged and heated exchange, Vaughn has a chance encounter with Mack and Mack's husband Tom that has repercussions no one could foresee.  

The play masterfully illuminates how contemporary issues of race fall upon a cross-section of intelligent, passionate, successful, yet flawed New Yorkers dealing with addiction and how their choices can impact their immediate families, community and extended community.  The title is pronounced "hashtag n-word." (Runs 2:15 including intermission.)

Christian Elder (playwright) is a screenwriter, playwright and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. After a period of study as a classical painter in Italy he turned to writing. He has been a finalist for Tribeca All Access, a semifinalist for the International Thomas Wolfe Playwriting Award, a quarterfinalist for the ScreenCraft Play contest, a semifinalist for the Garry Marshall Theatre New Works Festival, a quarterfinalist for The Script Lab Free Screenplay contest and a quarterfinalist for the Academy Awards Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. His work written for the stage has been recently developed at the Billie Holiday Theatre through the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop and Urban Stages, both in New York. He has written and directed two short films and is the creator and executive producer of the new crime fiction anthology podcast "Hell, California."

Hannah Beck, John Carhart, Roderick Lawrence, Clarissa Thibeaux.

Set by Jaime Mejia. Lighting by Madeline Burrow. Costumes by Imani Trew.

May 26-28 at 7:30 PM, May 29 at 3:00 PM
"I Don't Have A Gun, Stop Shooting! - An American Tragedy" by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj
Directed by Vincent Scott

The title is drawn from the final words of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was fatally shot by a Ferguson Police Officer on August 9, 2014. Three ancestors--Breonna, George and Ahmaud-- take us on a journey tracing the murder of Trayvon Martin and the mass shooting of the nine parishioners at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, using the power of the African tradition of Libation. The play is direct and educational, reminiscent of "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992" by Anna Deavere Smith. (Runs 2:15 incl. intermission.)

Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj (playwright) is a theater director, playwright, producer and activist. He holds an associate degree in Criminal Justice from St. John's University, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from St. John's University, and a Master of Fine Arts in Theatrical Directing from Brooklyn College. He is currently the Associate Artistic Producer of Milwaukee Repertory Theater. He started Rebel Theater Company in 2003 in New York City, and served as Producing Artistic Director. He is the former Artistic Director of New Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia. He is the Third Vice President for the Brooklyn Branch of NAACP and Chair of its Equity in the Arts and Culture Committee.

With: Kevin Tate, Adrain Washington, C Kelly Wright.

Set by Jaime Terrazzino, Lighting by Madeline Burrow, Costumes by Imani Trew.

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CRITICS ARE INVITED to all performances.