The 2009 Cohen New Works Festival

Presented by the University Co-op
March 30-April 4, 2009

Press and Reviews 

The Austin Chronicle
"Research and Development: Back in the performance laboratory of the David Mark Cohen New Works Festival" (March 26, 2009)

The Austin Chronicle
"David Mark Cohen New Works Festival: Relishing that monster buzz" (April 10, 2009)

2009 Team 

Faculty Co-Producers: Denise Martel, Suzan Zeder and David Justin

The Cohen New Works Festival Executive Committee: Jermaine Affonso, Wendy A. Bable, Lindsey Bailey, Andrea Beckham, Hailey Chaney, Jenny Connell, Rusty Cloyes, Michelle Dahlenburg, Nora Davidson, Kathryn Floweres, Lindsay Genshaft, Robby Gonzales, Megan Griffith, Jennifer Hartmann, Kelsey Hayenga, David Justin, Halena Kays, Matrex Kilgore, Nora King, Joey LePage, Darren Levin, Amber Loftis, Denise Martel, Derek Martinez, Talleri McRae, Yonatan Mendelsberg, Eugenia Montoya, Charissa Mureen, Nichole Palmietto, Alyssa Parker, Chelsea Roach, Denise Saenz, Matthew Satterfield, Kyle Schmidt, Andrew Segovia, Beth Sitorius, Michele Sleighel, Lissa Storey, Kristin, Turner, Sarah White, Cody Williams, Martin Zimmerman, Suzan Zeder.

2009 Festival Roster

The 100 Dresses Project

The 100 Dresses Project is a community outreach project inspired by the children's book The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. The project includes an interactive workshop for young women and an art installation showcasing designs by women working and creating in Austin, Texas. The project celebrates the unique creative power that resides within the women of our community.

Coordinated and curated by Heather Koslov and Ruthie Fisher

101 Ways to...

101 Ways to.. is a high energy, physical theatre extravaganza using the dicey world of women's fashion magazines as its inspiration. Are we better in bed thanks to Cosmo? Did Glamour give us the perfect makeover? Do we feel like voyeuristic consumers reinforcing the ever-present male gaze? What can we really learn from those quizzes? What are the 10 things mean are REALLY thinking? Only one way to find out. Magazines: love them or hate them-you can't avoid them in the grocery store aisle, LIVE ON STAGE.

Created and directed by Halena Kays; Written and performed by Jenny Connell, Tim Longo, Carra Martinez, Steve Moulds and Sarah Myers

The 7

The 7 is an original, autobiographical work about the life of an inner city African-American woman. This woman's journey from childhood to adulthood is revealed in a style reminiscent of a Choreopoem by way of the 7 train in New York City.

Created and directed La Tasha Stephens


Autopilot chronicles four relationships facing the same problem: "The course of true love never did run smooth."
Created by Anna Fugate and Ashley Hayes

Chest Scale

Look back through over one 150 years of pattern drafting for tailored menswear in this hanging installation. See why period vest drafts don't work when drafted for our modern actors' body.

Designed by Sarah Lankenau, Assistant Designer Sarah Thornell, Curated by Jenna Penick, Documentarian Michael Howell

Dream Sequence

Dream Sequence is a performance created based on the dreams of the cast. We did not have a text to start with, and the process of creating the piece was fully improvisational. Be prepared to ride with us in a fantastic journey that will transfer you to the ultimate remote places of our imaginations where everything is possible!

Text: improvised by performers

Performance: conceived and directed by Fadi Skeiker

The Edge of Peace

The Edge of Peace is the third play in a trilogy that began with Suzan Zeder's award-winning play Mother Hicks. Set in 1945 in the final desperate months of World War II, this play explores the impact on a family and community when a local boy is declared MIA overseas and his younger brother refuses to believe what seems inevitable. This staged reading features Seattle actor Billy Seago as the Deaf postman, Tuc. In the visual poetry of American Sign Language, Tuc takes us on a journey of hope through a landscape of loss.

Written by Suzan Zeder and directed by Wendy Bable

Fernando and the Killer Queen

In a bloody fantasyland wracked by revolution, a Queen struggles to keep her government (and maintain her sense of pageantry).

Written by Kyle John Schmidt, Directed by Elizabeth C. Lay, Stage Managed by Peyton Smith


Foodstuff explores the idea of identity through a ritual we all take part in every day: eating. How do our relationships with food inform who we are? Does what we choose to eat, and how we eat it, distinguish and illuminate us as individuals? The audience will witness a wide array of colors, sounds, smells, emotions and attitudes as they watch a five-course meal unfold.

Written by Meghan Kennedy, Directed by Erin Meyer and Noel Gaulin, Dramaturg Kirk Lynn

Footprints: A Musical Eco-Tale

This staged reading of a musical for young audiences follows the story of a young girl named Sophie and her quest to save a forest. Along her journey, Sophie meets some ancient beings and draws on her connection with nature to communicate with them and work towards mutual understanding. This project also incorporates the principles of eco-theatre and sustainable theatre practice.

Book by Lindsay Genshaft, Music and lyrics by Jennifer Hartmann with Lindsay Genshaft, Designed by Ariana Schwartz and Natalie Maynard, orchestrations, musical direction and arrangements by Lyn Koenning

Funky Snowman

A play/ballet for young audiences (and for the young at heart!) On her way to ballet class, little Fritzie brings a groovalicious snowman to life. When Fritzie is asked to leave class because she can't get anything right, Funky Snowman helps her discover her own unique groove.

Written by Wendy Bable, Directed by Brian C. Fahey, Choreographed by Molly Searcy, Original music by Michael Bowman


Fusion is a project that uses technology to design and create an integrated multimedia art-work. This project will demonstrate the diverse ways technology can be used in productions and will showcase how these forms can be integrated into one cohesive performance piece.

Created by Nathan Brittain, Zachary Dixon and Yonatan Mendelsberg, Stage Managed by Beth McCurdy, Video work by Cesar Obregon, Acting by J-M Specht

Harvest Mandala

In the fall of 2008, a group of UT students came together to promote the harvest in its most aesthetic form. The First Annual Harvest Mandala and Food Drive brought together diverse student groups and individuals on campus for a community-based performance. A mandala of wholeness and balance was created that serves as a testament that together we can help lift the spirits of those who are marginalized and neglected by society.

Conceived by the Living Colors Class, School of Architecture

Looking At Dance: A Journey through The Blanton

Looking At Dance: A Journey through The Blanton showcases divergent perspectives in dance and choreography. Mary A. Chase examines self-portraiture in Herstory, Charlotte Griffin captures the frenetic energy of Barefoot Negotiations on film, and Julie Nathanielsz directs a structured improvisation for The Meeting Point. Presented throughout the museum, the dances traverse an ever-growing definition of art, performance, and audience experience.

Created by Mary A. Chase, Charlotte Griffin and Julie Nathanielsz

Look, Listen, Look Again!

Seven photographers chose their most meaningful or provocative photo. Seven musicians composed music inspired by that photograph. Seven choreographers created works inspired from the musical composition. The objective is to see if the end result is a reflection of the original art.

Concept idea by J. Elissa Marshall and presented by Dance Action

Made from Scratch

The story follows the transformation of an innocent, playful relationship between two elementary school girls, Talia and Rachel, into a naïvely abusive friendship. Using their relationship and the effect of a lack of parental involvement in investigating the situation, the play explores the full responsibility of a parent and digs deep into the minds of young children.

Written and directed by Avital Bisk

The Mariner

Characters and events inspired by "The Mariner's Revenge Song" by The Decemberists. Everyday objects collide and combine to form this darkly imaginative world where two sea-faring enemies must strive to escape from inside the belly of a giant whale. As the men battle with impending death, a glimmer of hope appears on the horizon - escalating the mental warfare to a shocking conclusion.

Written by Esme Lejeune and directed by Glen Hall

The Nomadic Dream Project

An outdoor spectacle performance exploring the strange landscape between waking worlds and fathomed dreams. Stories told in movement, sound and image. A symphony for the senses. Join us for this experience and bring to life an unexpected world of nighttime folly.

Created by Alison Heryer, Sonja Rainey, Emma Lawrence and The Nomadic Dream Collective

On these four matters we cannot agree

On these four matters we cannot agree is a duet for male dancer and upright bass played by a female. Conceived as a suite of four dances, it immediately turns the physicality and initial gender associations of both dancing and playing the bass on their heads and explores this discourse through music, movement and, hopefully, a little intrigue.

Conceived by Diana Mino; Co-created by Diana Mino, Matthew Bunker, Jordan Loveland and Zachary Dixon

Phoenix Unforgiven

Amanda has just succeeded her father, Lucas, as the principal of the school he started in the wake of their country's civil war. Lucas started the New Hope School when Amanda was just an infant to provide an education and home for the orphans of the civil war, but also to cope with the murder of his wife -  Amanda's mother - at the hands of the military. But as the events that follow Lucas' retirement lead Amanda to delve deeper and deeper into her family's history, what she finds will cause her to question who she is, and the value of the school to which she has dedicated her life.

Written by Martin Zimmerman and directed by Kelly Howe

The Poet and the Philosopher

The Poet and the Philosopher uses costume and movement to tell the story of two people's fight to discover their hero.

Designed by Jennifer Madison

Poof!! In Movement

The idea behind Poof!! In Movement is to create a colorful performance piece using a combination of dancers and in-animate soft sculptural objects. Creating bulbous, whimsical characters out of fabric, Bailey collaborates with a variety of undergraduate junior and senior students to combine performance, costume, and installation. With the help of the dancers, the fabric sculpture pieces will perform a dance sequence, moving in and out of the space. The dancers will be disguised as sculptural pieces, via costuming. Poof!! In Movement will evoke humor and whimsy through a unique process and collaboration of media.

Created and directed by Lindsey Bailey, Choreographed by Janna Rock

Problem Box

Bill is being held prisoner. He doesn't know why, nor does he know who's doing the imprisoning. He's in a dynamic, problem solving environment with no respect for his boundaries: the Problem Box. Will he defeat the Box, or will the Box beat him?

Written by Steve Moulds

The Psyche Project

Fast, funny and irreverent, The Psyche Project is an ensemble-generated retelling of the myth of Eros (Cupid) and Psyche, two star-crossed lovers who married in secret, ticked off the Goddess of Love, and went to hell and back to keep their marriage together. Come see what happens when Greek Myth goes modern, hell is a mall, and Eros upgrades from arrows to a semi-automatic.

Written by Jenny Connell in collaboration with The Ensemble, Directed by Marie Brown, Designed by Kevin Beltz

Resabios de Amargura or That Bitter Cabaret

This campy mixture of song, comedy, and social critique follows the story of a Puerto Rican diva that loves her country, but feels attracted to the "outside." She leaves for the more promising and glamorous U.S., but things don't turn out quite as planned. Will she stay? Will she go back home? Is there a home to go back to?

Solo-performance by Beliza Torres Narváez

The Roaming Bassoonist

Claude aspires to be the next in a long line of esteemed roaming musicians. When he approaches Sir Vincent, the greatest serenader of all time, he learns that sometimes even master minstrels require the help of an ensemble. This work is an exploration in new media that combines stop-motion animation and performance to bring the virtual beyond the screen, into the theatre.

Written and directed by Ilana Marks, Set designed by Lizzie Bracken

RTF Films

A selection of short films from some of the most exciting film-makers of tomorrow from the Department of Radio-Television-Film at The University of Texas at Austin.

The Shape of White

The Shape of White is a multi-media, site-specific dance performance which explores the concept of deterioration through repetition to create a visual and physical metaphor for the experience of loss. Aerial dance and video projections ill the space in order to transform the everyday site into a performance space.

Concept by Yvonne Boudreaux, Chih-Feng Chen and Andee Scott in collaboration with Clare Croft, Yonatan Mendelsberg, Natalie Maynard, Becca Miller, Ariana Schwartz, and Lih-Hwa Yu

So/La Spaces: Bodies Journey into Rhythm

So/La Spaces explores the intersections between light, sound, and female bodies in motion. It features two pieces, Angela Ahlgren's taiko drum solo Hitori Janai (Not Alone) and Meg Brooker's Noyes Rhythm choreography Not Adam's Rib. Both pieces developed collaboratively with designers, including watercolor artist Linda DeHart.

Created and performed by Angela Ahlgren and Meg Brooker

The Tides of Aberdeen

The Tides of Aberdeen follows the story of Jake and Abigail, two best friends who embark on breaking the world record for holding their breath under water. Presented in a workshop format in order to investigate and lovingly interrogate the play, we are working to further the script's development toward a production ready draft.

Written by Erin Phillips and Directed by Sarah Benson

What Started Here Changed the World

This collaborative piece examines violence in schools, particularly school shootings. The audience experiences the two worlds running concurrently: that of a few characters in an isolated setting during the crisis, and the world community linked by technology.

Created by Neil Ames, Trang Bui, Jessica Evans, Kelsey Hayenga, Andrew Hlinsky, Priscilla Hill and Matt Wasson

Writing a Letter to Fidel

Cuba keeps popping up in the news and in politics, but still little is known about the people and the essence of the country we are not allowed to visit. Writing a Letter to Fidel is a collection of oral history interviews that explores the experiences and feelings of those who either left Cuba or had family leave Cuba to start anew in the United States.

Created by Amanda Cayo