Director and Founder
Playwright Season 1, 2, 3, 4, 6
David Clark co-founded Derby City Playwrights with playwright Brian Walker. His plays gods Play and Shrodinger’s Girl were part of the Derby City Playwights New Play Festval in 2019 and 2016. Work includes: Edgar at 2014 Ten-Tucky Festival in Louisville; And in the Silence Penguins Come(2015) and Chocolate Girl (2012) at the Finnigan Festival, Louisville; In Retrospect as part of “The Seven” at Fusion Theatre, Albuquerque (2007); gods Play, Laundry and Chocolate Girl were showcased at the Good Acting Studio, Atlanta (2014), and he produced (with Callie Meiners) Everything and Nothing for the 2012 Minnesota Fringe Festival.
His work has been published in two volumes of collected monologues, presented at the Last Frontier Conference Play Lab, and selected as a semi-finalist for the Roots of the Bluegrass New Play Award, the Source Theatre Festival and as a finalist for the Heidemann Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
He attributes all of his success to his long time collaborator, editor and wife, Beth Clark, with whom he is currently attempting to script the life of three adorable children.
Founder and Former Co-Director
Playwright Season 1, 2, 4, 5
Brian David Walker’s plays include High Tide (2017 O’Neil semi-finalist, Orlando Shakespeare’s PlayFest semi-finalist and PlayPenn finalist), CPR on the Lost Continent, POST, dirty sexy derby play, Great American Sex Play, The Kings, DOG and The Friend Factory. Brian's plays have been seen in theatres across America and Australia. His play POST was a finalist for Kentucky Theatre Association’s 2012 Roots of the Bluegrass New Play Contest, his play DOG was the winner of the 2013 award and his play CPR on the Lost Continent was the winner of the 2015 award. His ten minute play Hero Worship was a finalist for the 2014 Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville, his play Gamers4Life was a finalist for the 2015 prize. Brian was a member of Nashville Repertory Theatre’s 2012-2013 Ingram New Works Lab residency and his full length play The Friend Factory was part of their New Works Festival in May 2013. He has also had plays developed at Actors Workshop Louisville (2016), Theatre  (2014/2015), UP Theatre Company (2014), Capital Stage’s Playwrights Revolution (2014), Last Frontier Theatre Festival (2012) and Great Plains Playwrights Conference (2009). He was awarded the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship Emerging Artist Award for playwriting by the Kentucky Arts Council in July 2010. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild and The Playwrights’ Center and (with David Clark) is the co-founder of Derby City Playwrights.
Cris Eli Blak
Cris Eli Blak's work has garnered him recognition from The Negro Ensemble Company, Kairos Italy Theater, Austin Film Festival, Barrington Stage Company, TEDxBroadway, and Ignition Arts. His work has been performed around the world, from Off-Broadway, London, Canada and Ireland. He is currently the recipient of the Emerging Playwrights Fellowship from The Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre and a selected participant of The Kennedy Center Playwrights Intensive. He was a resident playwright with Fosters Theatrical Artists Residency, Paterson Performing Arts Development Council and La Lengua Teatro en Español/AlterTheater Ensemble; the recipient of the Michael Bradford Residency from Quick Silver Theatre Company; and was in the inaugural class of fellows for the Black Theatre Coalition/Broadway Across America; and was shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship Theatre Prize. He continues to strive to create work that reflects the world that we live in, with all of its different and diverse colors, creeds and cultures.
Playwright Seasons 1,4,7
Ben Gierhart is a writer and theater artist based in Louisville, KY. He writes everything from essays, plays, articles, reviews, comic book scripts and short stories. His play "Another Man's Treasure" was part of DCP's first season and went on to win the Charles M. Getchell New Play Award at SETC, and staged readings of his plays "The Moon in the Water" and "Exhumed" were performed for Pandora Productions and Louisville Fringe Festival respectively. His most recent essays have been published by Belt Publishing and Tor.com. To learn more, please consider following Ben Gierhart - Writer/Theater Artist on Facebook and/or follow him on Twitter (@LunarCrescendo)!
Playwright, Season 4,5,6, 7
Clare Hagan (she/they) is a theater artist and playwright from Louisville, Kentucky, and they are incredibly excited to be returning for their fourth season with the Derby City Playwrights. Clare has worked professionally with companies such as Looking for Lilith, Kentucky Shakespeare, Actors Theatre, and Clear Creek Creative. Clare is particularly passionate about nontraditional, socially conscious, site-specific theater, which she first encountered meaningfully through her work on Wendy's Neverland, a professionally-produced interactive play performed in three rural Kentucky nursing homes. During the course of this DCP season, Clare will be working with Looking for Lilith, Drama by George, and touring nationally with Ezell: Ballad of a Landman, a show created in Eastern Kentucky by Clear Creek Creative.
Playwright, Seasons 5,6
Matthew Jablow was a founding member of the Act Two Performing Arts Center of NJ, directing and teaching students that would go on to perform in movies, TV and Broadway. As a stand-up comic he toured the US and Canada first as part of the comedy duo of Matt and John and then later as a solo act. As a writer some of his plays were performed in over 6 major cities including New York and Boston. Taking a break from the arts he now finds himself in a prolific period of time. Proud to participate in the last two seasons of the Derby City Playwrights with “It Is What It Is” and “The Things a Play” and honored to have "The Things a Play" in last years Louisville Fringe Festival, he is very excited to be part of season 7. All that being considered he is proudest to be known as the father of Max and Axel, his two sons, who challenge him everyday to be better than he ever considered possible.
Kaiya Nieporte Linkugel
Kaiya Linkugel is absolutely ecstatic to be working on Season 7 of Derby City Playwrights! Kaiya began her playwriting journey at the age of 15 with her play Names that she would go on to direct as part of the Cincinnati FringeNext Festival. She worked with the Cincy Fringe Festival for an additional two seasons, directing and acting in several productions. Her second play Reflections: A Tale of Two Women, based upon Shakespeare’s King John, was staged through the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Project 38 and also directed by Kaiya. After taking a hiatus from theatre in order to pursue Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Philosophy, Kaiya is thrilled to be presenting her third play Demonic with Derby City Playwrights. While working on Season 7, Kaiya will be applying to graduate programs for playwriting in New York City with the hopes of attending school in the Fall of 2022.
Playwright Seasons 3,5, 7
Zoë is thrilled to return for another season with DCP! As an active member of Louisville’s theatre community Zoë has performed with several local companies, in addition to having had plays produced and read by Actors Theatre of Louisville, DCP, The Tentucky Festival, Commonwealth Theatre Center, Louisville Fringe, and others. Outside of Louisville, she’s been involved with The Fragmented Play Festival (virtual) and Serials! at The Know in Cincinnati. In 2021 her play, previously workshopped by DCP, A Shot in the Dark, won the Best Play award at the University of Cincinnati. She is a rising senior at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati earning a BFA in acting, minor in English, and certificate in screenwriting. Her show Sally Salem and the Spooktacular Birthday Extravaganza recently debuted at Cincy Fringe. In addition to collecting extracurriculars like Pokémon, she enjoys making random crafts and discussing horror movies.
Paul Bowman has worked as a security guard, bartender, lumber salesman, nursing home maintenance man, etc. He writes plays and fictions. His one-acts have been staged in twelve states and in Australia. A full-length play, SHERRY’S STORIES, was a semifinalist in the O’Neil Playwright’s Conference, the Dayton Playhouse FutureFest, and the Austin Film Festival, stage play category. Nineteen of his stories, flash to full-length, have been published in evocatively-titled literary journals (Burnt Pine, Muse, The Listening Eye, Southern Fried Karma, Esthete Apostle, and his favorite: Fleas On The Dog). He has also written novels and screenplays. His brilliant efforts are ignored by the publishing industry and Hollywood.
Izzy Keel is a Louisville born and raised theatre professional with many local credits including, most recently, a role in the digital production "Good Grief' with Looking for Lilith, and a vocal part in the Louisville Ballet showcase piece "The Movement". Izzy loves to support locally created theatre and especially loves to support works that focus on marginalized identities. They will be participating in two Derby City Playwrights shows this year, The Masked Man by Clare Hagan and Inquest by Erin Fitzgerald. They wish to offer their thanks to both of these playwrights for focusing on queer and disabled stories, and to the entire DCP team for making all of this possible!
Playwright Seasons 4,5,6
Erin Fitzgerald (a.k.a. A Girl Named Earl) is a community arts enthusiast and writer of stories, songs, and snapshots. In addition to her own creative projects, she has contributed and performed music and live sound for productions with Blue Apple Players, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company, and Pandora Productions. Her musical play "Good Grief" - which was written and presented as a reading during DCP season 4 - has since been produced by Looking For Lilith Theatre Company.
LARRY MUHAMMAD is an award-winning playwright and producing director of Kentucky Black Repertory Theatre. His plays have been performed in New York at New Federal Theatre; in Louisville, KY at Actors Theatre, Kentucky Center for the Arts, Speed Art Museum, and Muhammad Ali Center; in Cincinnati, OH at the Aronoff Center; and the National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem, NC. They include:
Looking for Leroy – A young theatre intern debates with him literary hero the fundamental questions of the artform, examine the fungible nature of aesthetics, question whether artistic
expression is ever nonideological and weight the added responsibility of artists of color. Produced 2019 .
Derby Mine 4 – Miners trapped underground after a methane explosion crawl to safety through
miles of dark tunnels following their African-American team leader, rare in the pits nowadays, in this reflective new drama about the mining life as the coal industry declines; Self-produced in 2018
Jockey Jim – An old black stable hand haunted by ghosts of his past as a Kentucky Derby- winning rider uses superior horsemanship to reclaim a forgotten legacy; Self-produced in 2013 and excerpt produced in 2018
Double V – A crusading black newsman during World War II helps persuade President Harry Truman to desegregate the military. Produced in 2018
Muhammad has written the book and lyrics for two musicals. They are: Sweet Evening Breeze – A famous drag queen goes undercover to trap a gay predator who is blackmailing college athletes to throw games in a betting scam; Produced in concert 2020
Buster! – A gadfly activist on a preposterous religious quest brings social justice to his conservative Southern hometown. Self-produced in 2014.
Playwright Seasons 5,6
Gray Shaw is a local playwright who has at times over the past seven years lived in Butchertown, The Highlands, and, most recently, Old Louisville, while taking regular forays into other city neighborhoods such as Germantown, Smoketown, Portland and any other that may peak his interest on a given day. Gray has written a number of full-length and ten-minute plays over the past years, workshopping some of these at Chicago Dramatists and others at CCM’s Summer Playwright Conference at the University of Cincinnati. His full-length plays include “A young couple walks into a bar . . .”, “Family Tradition”, and his most recent creation, “A Fall Planting”, while his ten-minute plays include “Me, Myself & Id”, “High School Reunion”, “The Wall”, and “Heads, I Win”; the last being included as part of the TenTucky Festival at Bard’s Town Theatre in 2018, later chosen by Arts Louisville for its Best Short Play Award for that year. Finally, Gray’s one-act play, “The Rewrite” was a finalist in the 2018 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in New Orleans, while his serial short, “A Noir Too Far?” was part of the Serials!8 at Cincinnati’s Fringe Theatre in 2018. Gray is honored to be selected to be a member of Derby City Playwrights this year, and looks forward to working with the other chosen playwrights to bring interesting and thought-provoking voices and stories to our Derby City community.
Playwright Seasons 1,2,4,5,6
Vidalia Unwin unofficially studied creative writing at the University of Louisville and unofficially studied theater at Bellarmine University. Her full length plays include “Punk Snot”, “Broken Iris”, and “@con”, as well as “The Ballad of Night Moose” and “The Curse of Blue Moose”, both co-written with Lex Mitchell.
Vidalia is also a regular writer and performer for Louisville’s “Sketchy Stuff” sketch group, for which she won the 2019 “Sketchiest Righter” award.
In addition to stage credits, she has worked as a writer for The Mitch Show, and wrote and directed a number of short films starring Lego figures and bad puppeteering known as the “Thumper and Brody” shorts.
Sean Fannin was born and raised in Kentucky. He received degrees in Theatre and Financial Economics from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. During this time he also studied American and European Theatre Arts at Rose Bruford School of Drama in London, England. His first play, Dead Wait, was produced at Centre in his final term. Upon completion of his degrees, he moved to Louisville where he has been involved in various productions.
Lex Mitchell was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. After living abroad for the past six years, he's decided to return to his hometown and collaborate with his writing partner of ten years, Vidalia Unwin. His amateur writing career started in 8th grade when he turned in a 311-page "short story" to his English teacher because he got bored over the summer and wrote a book. His past credits include The Galileo Defense, Sequence Broken, and The Ballad of Night Moose (all co-written with Vidalia Unwin). He's also the author of the novella I'll Give You a Monster and the novel Fallen Leaves.
Fi Connors is an Irish woman... recently ( enough) relocated to Louisville.... of course for love. It’s always love ......or work! Work or love. Fi has always written (for her own sanity) and has an MA in creative writing that she has never used... at least not in any public way. Her recent foray into plays has been a way to relocate herself into this, her new life in America... almost like being an audience to her own small unfolding drama... until she can get there herself!
Liz Fentress is playwright, director, and actor. In Louisville, she acts for Stage One, and has been a teaching artist for ATL’s New Voices program for ten years. She conducts playwriting workshops for the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Continuing Studies and wrote the department’s Online Playwriting Workshop. She is the Kentucky Regional Rep for the Dramatists Guild of America.
Most recently Liz’s play Stages of Bloom premiered at the Public Theatre of Kentucky in Bowling Green, followed by a production at the Bunbury in Louisville. Liz’s play Strike Zone premiered in Louisville at The Bard’s Town Theatre. Her play The Honey Harvest, which premiered at Kentucky Repertory Theatre, followed by a production at the Little Colonel Playhouse in Pewee Valley, KY, won the North American Actors Association Playwriting Competition
and was staged in London's West End. Kentucky Educational Television’s production of Liz's Circus Story, a solo play which Liz wrote and performs, won the National Educational Television Association award for Best Dramatic Narrative.
Previously Liz worked for 13 seasons at Horse Cave Theatre in Horse Cave, KY, as a director and actor, also serving on the management team. While there she coordinated the Kentucky Voices program for the development of new plays by or about Kentuckians, and was co-editor of World Premieres from Horse Cave Theatre. Prior to moving to Horse Cave, Liz was the executive director of the Playhouse in the Park in Murray, KY, where she founded the West Kentucky Playwrights.
Liz began her career touring with the Franzen Bros. Circus and the Guthrie Theatre. In New York, she was a founding member of the Irondale Ensemble. Liz is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art. Born and raised in Northern Wisconsin, Liz now makes her home with her husband Larry, in Louisville, where her hobbies include knitting, gardening, and beekeeping.
Haydee Canovas is a Cuban-American playwright and has always had an innate passion for the arts. In 2013, Mrs. Canovas co-founded Teatro Tercera Llamada, a Spanish language theatre company in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s recently written her first full-length play about human trafficking in Louisville, Kentucky called “Molly Driven” and has written, “Silent Night”, a 10 minute play loosely based on real life events of a track worker in Louisville, Kentucky. The Spanish translation of “Molly Driven”, “Guiando a Molly”, was presented at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in January, 2018. Mrs. Canovas is delighted to part of Derby City Playwrights and enjoyed developing her next play with them.
Playwright Seasons 1,2 & 3 and Co-Director Season 3
Eli Keel is a Louisville based playwright, actor, storyteller, and freelance journalist. He’s a founding member of DCP, and currently serves as co-director. With Suspend Louisville he’s genre bending as the playwright behind Circus Theatre shows like A Tale of Love and Tarot and Orpheus: a Silent Circus. This last summer Suspend offered Fabled Fragments, a series of free monthly shows. His play “Nobody Bunny and the Golden Age of Animation” which was written in DCP’s inaugural season received a workshop production with Theatre 502 .
Currently he is creating an exhaustive archive of the exploits of his new chihuahua-mutt Death Ripper, whose fearsome exploits in cute can be found on Instagram at @deathripperfireel. His art and cultural criticism can be found at salon.com, wfpl.org, LEO Weekly, howlround.com, and insiderlouisville.com. He is also co-founder and co-producer of Louisville Fringe Festival.
Chase Gregory graduated from Centre College in 2012 with a BA in Dramatic Arts, and has continued acting in local Louisville theatre productions following graduation. His favorite roles include Ezra Chater in “Arcadia” (Centre College), Demetrius in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Centre College), Norman in “The Boys Next Door” (Bunbury Theatre Company), Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “Bonhoeffer” (Bunbury Theatre Company), Adam in “Schrodinger’s Girl” (The Bard’s Town Theater), and the Chairman in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” (Centre College). This is Chase’s first full-length play as a writer, and he is very excited to be working with the Derby City Playwrights to improve his own work, and to expand his knowledge of good storytelling.
Playwright Season 1 & 2
Bryce Woodard grew up in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin-- and yes, most of what you've imagined about Ft. Atkinson is totally true. At the ripe age of twenty he moved to Chicago and studied Theatre at Columbia College. At the moist age of twenty-six he and his wife moved to Louisville, where they currently live with their two sons, who are cuter than any other kids on the face of the Earth. I'm sorry, but there it is. Bryce is grateful to his wife and the local theatre community to be so active as an actor and writer in Louisville Theatre. If you see him on the street, please kiss him gently on the forehead and tell him it's going to be alright.
Tyler Curth, 26, grew up in Louisville, KY. He graduated from Spalding University with a BFA in creative writing in 2015. As a poet, he was an ESU Scholar to study at Oxford University's Creative Writing Summer School in 2013. When he isn't writing, he's usually driving around aimlessly or staring at the sky (but never both at the same time) trying to think of something to write about. His work has appeared in Word Hotel and 94 Creations. This is his first play.
Playwright Season 1 & 2
Rachel White is a playwright and screenwriter from Louisville, Kentucky. She received her MFA in playwriting from the New School for Drama and her BA in English and Dramatic Arts from Centre College. Recent Louisville area works include Ludlow Quinn Presents: Dante the Magician with Theatre 502, American Goddess with Derby City Playwrights, a reading of A Bird to the Mountain with Derby City Playwrights, Ludlow Quinn Presents: The Man Who Knows with Theatre 502, Blizzard of ’92 with Marrow Street Theater, and The Gardeners with Marrow Street Theater. New York City credits include: Broken Wing at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, Gravity at the American Globe Theatre, Blank at the Strawberry One Act Festival, Green River at the New School for Drama, and Traditions at the New School for Drama. She has had workshops and productions at Tangent Theatre Company, Moving Arts Productions, The Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA, and The Last Frontier Theatre Conference. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and playwright emeritus with The Playwrights Gallery Workshop in New York. She is playwright and co-founder of Marrow Street Theater, a Louisville based non-profit theater company dedicated to the 45-60 minute one act play.
After graduating with a degree in film from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 2006, Taj Whitesell has spent the last several years trying to figure out how to balance the need for a steady paycheck and a love of the arts. After some aimless globe traveling to such exotic places as New Zealand and Denver, she finally returned to her hometown of Louisville and has decided to pursue her greatest dream - to become a writer. She is currently working on an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Spalding University and hopes that some day the steady paycheck and the writing will go hand in hand.
Tad Chitwood has been part of the Louisville theatre scene for many years as actor, director, producer, and artistic director, but is a relative newcomer to playwriting. His short piece, Independence, was staged by Pet Fish Productions. Premieres at the annual Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun: Anastasia Remoulade, CosMology--A Series of Drunken Revelations, Status, Love's Light Wings--10 Monologues About Loss of Innocence, AutoFill, Fair Trade, Double Helix (also published in The Louisville Review) and Toast. His plays Bendy Straw and AutoFill were part of Actors Theatre of Louisville's Late Seating. He was commission by Actors Theatre to adapt and direct a Jonathan Letham short story, The Mad Brooklynite. He created a new translation and adaptation of Ionesco's The Bald Soprano for Savage Rose Classical Theatre Co, which he also directed. He studied playwriting with Horton Foote at a symposium in NYC and studied English, History and Rhetorical Theory at Centre College, Duke University, University of Louisville, Queen's College, Vanderbilt University, The National Humanities Center and Cambridge University.
Amanda Haan has been studying elements of cooperation and conflict resolution for most of her life. She is working on her first play, an effort to address those issues on the stage. She has trained in mediation, conflict resolution, peer negotiation, cooperative games and bias awareness. She is the author of I Call My Hand Gentle, a children’s picture book published by Viking Children’s Books. Amanda is currently developing a children’s animated program based on the tenets of conflict resolution called Andramada Rules! She recently moved from New York City, where she resided for 15 years, to rural central Kentucky.
Becky LeCron is a Louisville visual and theatre artist and a founding member of Derby City Playwrights. Her theatrical experience began as an actor in the 1990’s and she’s performed in recent years with Louisville companies 502 Theatre, Savage Rose Theatre, LRC and Finnigan Productions. Becky broadened her experience to include directing and playwriting with Finnigan Productions, who produced her ten-minute plays, (2013) ‘In the Driver’s Seat’ and (2014) ‘MMC Intervention’ in the ‘Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun’. Retired from a career in social work in 2013, Becky gratefully paints, takes photographs and established LeCron Photography and LeCronArt.com with the shared wisdom and support of a lot of people.