Petri Projects

Past Projects Press

The TEAM’s Petri Projects program was launched in 2017 and its goal is to foster a pipeline of inquiry and development into new work led by artists in our community. This program provides funding, rehearsal space, and producing support to seedlings of new plays.

The 2021-2022 Petri Project Cohort includes artists: Ching Valdes-Aran, Brittany Coyne, Sarah Gallegos, Sanaz Ghajar, James Harrison Monaco, Marika Kent, Nehemiah Luckett, Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez, Travis Tench, Ellpetha Tsivicos, Ema Zivkovic and artists from Cardinal Cross including Amy Brooks, Crystal Good, and Hilarie Spangler. Read more about current projects below. 

The Headless Woman led by Ching Valdes-Aran

In this new multi-disciplinary theatre piece, Ching Valdes-Aran will explore the idea of “Home.” Although residing in NYC for most of her adult life, she is faced with a deep hallow feeling that something is ‘missing’ and that she no longer knows where she belongs. Her new work will explore the idea of “home” and what it means both to her and to us as a country. 

Anniversary Play: A Coming of the Next Age Story led by Brittany Coyne & Sarah Gallegos

A new work about a woman on the brink of her 30th birthday, who teams up with her aborted fetus, D, in the biggest ghostbusting case of their lives. They set off to destroy a demon conjured by an early-2000s botched séance/13th birthday party, but end up confronting demons of their own. Through this work, Sarah and Brittany want to ignite a nuanced conversation in the grey areas of abortion, trauma, and preconceived notions of adult women in a patriarchal society. 


Clearings: led by JJJJJerome Ellis

Clearings is a piece of music theater that builds on the work JJJJJerome has been doing with sound baths to explore if listening and experiencing live music together can be a civic act. Can this act help us heal from forms of temporal violence that the black race is subjected to in present-day America? Can music be used to produce time? At the heart of the composition is the issue of dominant and alternative temporalities: how can this piece of music, and the performance of it, illustrate new temporalities that will help us approach time more creatively in our daily life in America, and in the world?

On a Bad Day in April led by Sanaz Ghajar

A new musical that features an impromptu dinner party at a gentrified Brooklyn apartment in a post vax 2022 world. Throughout the dinner, the guests get trashed, forget where they are, and talk philosophy as they slip back through time. Through this work, Sanaz hopes to explore class and cultural amnesia from 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

West Charleston Zine led by Crystal Good and Amy Brooks & Hilarie Spangler of Cardinal Cross

Affrilachian poet Crystal Good, publisher of the new media outlet Black By God The West Virginian, is partnering with rural-urban women’s ensemble Cardinal Cross to produce a living zine of, by and for Charleston, West Virginia’s West Side community. This project serves as a multimedia intervention by residents of the neighborhood that was once a plantation with enslaved peoples, an amusement park, and a canvas for one of the state’s first Black architects. Charleston’s West Side now sits in generational gun violence and trauma from “urban renewal” projects that continually disenfranchise the Black community. This zine will consist of printed and online materials, around which the team hopes to create an interactive site-specific production.

Bette in the Distant Futurepast led by Marika Kent 

Bette in the Distant Futurepast is a new multi-disciplinary work constructed from Marika’s personal archive of documents, photos and oral history about her grandmother. As a conceptual album, these fantastical depictions stand in as artifacts of an alternate history, as viable as any primary source document, and as equally futile in their failure to tell an indisputable version of the truth.

J/D or Jonathan and David led by Nehemiah Luckett

Based on the biblical story “Jonathan and David” is a new musical opera set in two time periods: Jackson, Mississippi in 1998, and Israel circa 1000 BCE. The main themes are family, love, and loyalty. In both time periods, Jonathan and David find each other become friends and muses for each other, and fall in love. While the biblical story revolves around the question of who will rule Israel, the twentieth-century story deals with power struggles in the Southern Black Church. Through this work, Nehemiah will explore the question: Can we change the narrative of the stories into which we are born and how do we take that leap of faith?

Travels: Stories to Dance By led by James Harrison Monaco

This new multi-disciplinary work interweaves drum machines and synthesizers with stories of travel James has collected over the years. Through this work, James hopes to explore time and space on a soul-level in narrative, and engage in conversations around immigration, international travel, being an outsider (or insider), and a traveler and translator in the world–and maybe while we all dance together.

The Jesus Project: led by Liliana Padilla & Orion Johnstone

Liliana and Orion are co-creating a musical for an all Queer cast of 13 people, where everyone plays Jesus at some point. They compost, remix and reclaim the narratives they grew up on and under, asking how the stories of this anti-capitalist immigrant sing with our collective liberation and the urgent fractures we are living with. They seek to create a ritual of belonging, healing and love in action.

Rumors of War led by Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez and Ellpetha Tsivicos of One Whale’s Tale

In this new documentary, multi-media work, Camilo and Ellpetha will conduct interviews with their fathers and other political refugees to explore the harsh realities of war and trauma guided by the beauty and magic of their cultures and homelands. Through music, poetry, and visual storytelling, this piece explores the difficult duality of immigrant life and creates a space for dialogue, healing, and magic.

Tinca Tinca led by Travis Tench

Tinca Tinca is a new musical project by Travis Tench that deals with themes of love, transience, loneliness, redemption, and joy, with a lens that reflects modern America. It is both genuine and absurdist, dire with a hopeful tint to it, flickering neon against an obsidian sky. In collaboration with local artists in Knoxville, TN, Travis will release an album accompanied by in-person shows and online media to create a fully immersive experience.

AREN’T YOU GLAD   YOU STAYED     (IN.) led by Ema Zivkovic

“This new work examines the experience of being a female-presenting, Eastern-European, queer immigrant performer in the US. How do we navigate an industry so saturated with “hyper-American,” prepubescent, one dimensional, profit centered casting? Where is the “ugly” on our stages and screens? Why don’t we want to see ourselves as opposed to “model-like” versions of ourselves? Through a mixture of movement, monologue, drag and sound, this piece will attempt to make the audience reconsider what ugly means to them. Define ugly.”

Support for the Petri Projects Program is provided by the Axe-Houghton Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

P_T _ND V_NN_ (pat and vanna) photos by Ben Holbrook
QUINCE photos by Catharine Krebs