The 2015 Cohen New Works Festival

green gridded graphic for THE COHEN NEW WORKS FESTIVAL


View The 2015 Cohen New Works Festival Guide

Press and Reviews
Festival Foundations: University of Texas Students Producing the Next Generation of New Work (April 9, 2015)
Engaging Research: Capturing the Spirit of Critical Inquiry (April 27, 2015)
The Cohen New Works Festival and Beyond (May 11, 2015)

Austin-American Statesman
Cohen New Works Festival (Photoblog/Jay Jenner, April 17, 2015)

The Daily Texan
Three UT Students Raised Awareness About Living With Alzheimer's Disease Through Interactive Art Installation (April 13, 2015)

2015 Team 

Faculty Co-Producers: Lawrence Bennett, Quetta Carpenter, Rusty Cloyes, Liz Engelman, David Justin, Kirk Lynn

The Cohen New Works Festival Executive Committee: Dana Arismendez, Tamara, Carroll, Kenny Chilton, Madilynn Garcia, Joey Gomez, Danya Gorel, Katherine Horak, Lindsay Kelly, Nicole Oglesby, Sara Robillard, Victoria Solorio, Shelby Stark, Eva Suter, Sean Tecson, Kyle Winkelmann

2015 Festival Roster

After: A Post-Gay Vaudeville (Sponsored by Faggot Dolls)

After: A Post-Gay Vaudeville (Sponsored by Faggot Dolls) explores what it means to be a gay man in an imagined utopia with full marriage equality and zero homophobia. The piece investigates how gay men interact with one another, wrestles with gay body image and sexual type, the difficulty of creating a lasting same-sex relationship, and the power and status dynamics within the gay community.

Project Leads: William Glick and E.L. Hohn

An Accumpulation of Glorious Knick-Knacks

Follow the bread crumbs you don't remember leaving, and sometimes you'll get somewhere. A mosaic of ransom note letters created from old books. Close your eyes, turn around, and get ready for what you've seen but never seen.

Project Leads: Cara Phipps and Eva Suter

Apocalypse Radio

Good morning, Chicagolandia. Pull up your wool socks and get comfortable for this immersive, retro-future radio broadcast. Subversives, convicts and bears strictly forbidden. If feasible, The Agency recommends bringing your own pillow and blanket or sleeping sack.

Project Leads: Katie Van Winkle and Lydia Blaisdell

Cielito Lindo

Cielito Lindo, meaning "pretty little one," is a bilingual play that crosses cultures and explores what it means to be independent and confident with who you are and to stand up for what is right even when it's the hardest thing imaginable. Featuring a cast of 15 versatile actors who sing, dance and act while weaving together an epic love story with a modern battle of self identity. Cielito Lindo is a celebration of Latino culture and a commentary on the color-blindness of love and friendship. You can either run from who you are, or learn to embrace and love yourself regardless of differences.

Project Leads: Stephany Antoinette Cavazos and Andrea Stanfill-Carrillo


Chord seeks to create an environment that promotes creative play by utilizing multiple forms of media. Participants will be able to manipulate light and sound via multiple chords throughout the performance space. The installation is an exploration of interactivity and the ways in which it can be applied.

Project Leads: Patrick Lord, Ryan Belock, Jared LeClaire and Matt Smith

Clothing. Movement. Spirituality.

Clothing. Movement. Spirituality. is a interdisciplinary movement spectacular showcasing three styles of martial arts blended with modern dance, hip hop, traditional music and Korean pop music. It is a three segment show based on the culture, clothing, movement and spirituality of Tai Chi style Kung Fu, Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Do. This performance will show you that the broad term "Martial Arts" has a wide range of nuances including history, culture, spirituality, physicality and performance.

Project Lead: Kelly Ruiz


Emanation is a play about intimacy. Leira, a 20-something assistant librarian discovers a damaged book while closing the library late at night. In her quest to find the culprit, she unlocks aspects of her own identity. In the spirit of David Lynch, Emanation redefines the "coming" of age story.

Project Lead: Mahalia Dinglasan

Emma When You Need Her

In a world where a handful of rich men control the government; where women fight to control their bodies; where immigrants escaping war and poverty are met with fear and mistrust; where handlebar mustaches rule the streets and massage therapists are leading the march for justice . . . well, it's either Austin, 2014 or New York, 1914. Wherever we are, we need to find the crowd-charging, hard-writing, fast-dancing, freedom-fighting, polyamorous, Lithuanian-Jewish, anarcho-feminist firebrand inside us all. A ragtag band of artists and activists will join together to create Emma When You Need Her; a devised exploration of the life, loves and struggles of the one and only Emma Goldman!

Project Leads: Rudy Ramirez and Madilynn Garcia

Eye See...I Forget

Eye See...I Forget is an installation that will evolve each day of the festival. Explore the brain of an Alzheimer's patient and witness the disease's seven-stage effects one day at a time. Eye See...I Forget is a visual reminder of how precious memory is and how tasks and activities that are simple to most, yet a fading memory for others.

Project Leads: Selina Rosales and Callie Hacker

I Am My Selfie

I Am My Selfie examines the cultural phenomenon of "selfie-taking" and its relationship with self-image through a fully functional photo booth. Experience and share your take on what identity means to you and leave with a timeless photo.

Project Leads: Katy Wicker and Rocket Thrall

Last Call With Rocket Thrall

Last Call With Rocket Thrall is the talk show that's all about promoting and parodying the 2015 Cohen New Works Festival! Nightly guests will include New Works artists and our in-house band participating in interviews, sketches and games.

Project Lead: Rocket Thrall

Mad & A Goat

A two-person show about one woman who, to free herself from college debt, joins a Wyoming goat farm she inherits from her occult-leader birth parents. The Woman finds her fleshy body and her capital body to be joined in holy-moly matrimony and she's forced to reckon with both as bodies intertwined, for better or for worse.

Project Lead: Diana Lynn Small

Memoirdia dell'Arte

In the wake of Truffaldino's death, his daughter Beatrice delivers a heartfelt eulogy to her audience in Memoirdia dell'Arte. When the contemporary world and the imaginary Commedia dell'Arte worlds clash during the funeral, Beatrice will find out what it truly takes to lay Truffaldino to rest.

Project Leads: Rebecca Walach and Kenny Chilton

Operation Istanbul

An international spy adventure about star-crossed global love. While on vacation in Istanbul, Scott, CIA femme-fatale, seduces a handsome mysterious man named Asan, only to learn he is a secret agent with a Kurdish nationalist organization. Their love displeases both their employers and forces them to flee. The play follows them over the next 15 years of their life together as they search for normalcy from Pennsylvania, to Toronto, to Istanbul. Unfortunately, no matter what they do or where they go, the global war on terror always seems to catch up with them.

Project Leads: Patrick Shaw, Andrew Carson and Alexandra Bassett

Our Cool Leader

Our Cool Leader invites the audience to participate in event revealing the truth behind how North Korean propaganda functions. The focus is on the paradoxical character, Kim Jung-un. This project includes both a bust sculpture installation and a dance performance featuring a North Korean defector. A student organization at The University of Texas at Austin, Liberty in North Korea, will also host an awareness campaign in connection with this piece during the week of The Festival.

Project Lead: Yongmin Lee

Pirandello: A New Musical

This musical explores the famous playwright Luigi Pirandello's life and his relationship with his artistic muse Marta Abba. This piece is a staged reading.

Project Leads: Joshua Streeter and Spencer Blank

Please Open Your Mouth

Please Open Your Mouth is an immersive, participatory theatrical experience of food and sex. Audience members compete to gain entrance to a clandestine culinary orgy where a charismatic host and a cadre of servers shape a series of wildly unexpected dinner courses.

Project Leads: Joanna Garner and Katie Van Winkle


Purification explores oppressive views of female sexuality through the story of a mother and daughter who live in a village lead by the church and enclosed within a large, suffocating wall. In this world, they grapple with love, loss and the omnipresent weight the past bears on their bodies and reputations. This full-length play features beautiful stage images, poignant moments of both depth and lightness, and live, original folk music.

Project Leads: Nicole Oglesby, Luke Linsteadt


RE/CONNECT is an interdisciplinary performance about how humans relate in a digital age. A monumental tablet swipes through layers of music, movement, wearable technology and projected media to depict stories of relationships and how we communicate. RE/CONNECT seeks to answer the question "where do we find intimacy in an increasingly connected world?"

Project Leads: Ryan Belock, Kristen Weller

Road Trip 

Third-year college student Hannah has been sleeping with her friend Peter for months when she finds out that she's eight weeks pregnant. Finding that the closest abortion clinic is 750 miles away, Hannah, her roommate Bash and Hannah's conservative childhood friend Judith embark on a road trip across the state of Texas. Examining Hannah's relationships, both with God and her friends, the play follows the women on their tense journey as beliefs are questioned, secrets come to light and the three learn more about themselves than they ever thought possible.

Project Lead: Charlotte York

Rose Made Man 

The new opera, Rose Made Man, is a coming of age story of a trans man named Gabriel. It is also a coming of gender story since Gabriel, biologically born a female, believes he is a boy. Born deaf and thus having never heard his gender clearly spoken by others, he lives in a relative bubble until age ten when he gains his hearing and feels the full force of how his chosen identity unsettles society. The piece will feature a cast and chorus of 20 singers with a chamber orchestra performing music by Franklin Piland (M.M. Music Composition) and a libretto by Tegan McLeod (M.F.A. Playwriting).

Project Lead: Joshua Miller

Shrines to Childhood 

Shrines to Childhood is a pilgrimage. This site-specific, experiential performance explores the way we as humans choose to remember and interact with our memories of childhood at different stages in our lives. Lead by a multi-generational ensemble, the audience will be encouraged to hear and share their stories and reflect on how we remember and represent childhood.

Project Leads: Briana Bower, Megan Nevels and Jennifer Arffmann


Silenced is a journey through six distinct vignettes that illustrate different stages in ones life. These six dances are based upon interviews with individuals who are not in a place or space where their story is traditionally asked or heard.

Project Lead: Tawny Garcia

Teen Girl FANtasies 

Teen Girl FANtasies is part music video, part ultimate fan letter and part virtual coming-of-age adventure. It follows six teenagers, each an empress of an online kingdom, on their quests to make their favorite band, Only Reason, understand their limitless love. The play investigates and celebrates the emotional and social exploration of adolescent girls in the virtual fan sphere.

Project Leads: Kimberly Belflower and Megan Tabaque


Tell ____. is an interactive theatre performance for young audiences. Actor-facilitators engage in dialogue with the audience about physical boundaries and invite the audience to begin thinking about what our individual boundaries might be. Participants work to make sure that the characters they meet are comfortable and safe.

Project Lead: Emily Aguilar Thomas

The Caregiving Project

The Caregiving Project is an interactive solo performance. A performer leads the audience into the complicated joys and dilemmas of care that have informed her own life. Through interviewing the audience, she invites them to investigate the private and public ways we make meaning through the giving and receiving of care, and the narratives we create to explain it to ourselves.

Project Leads: Gia Marotta, Tamara Carroll

The DJ is my Griot

This piece explores the figure of the DJ as a modern griot, a storyteller who maintains the tradition of oral history in Western Africa. The DJ will lead the audience in an exploration of history, appropriation, and Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean dance traditions that inform popular culture today. This performance is a celebratory investigation of blackness through physical performance.

Project leads: Jossina Mark

The Fog Inside

The Fog Inside is a site-specific theatre-for-dialogue performance located in the Counseling and Mental Health Center. Each fall, thousands of bright, ambitious students relocate to Austin to start their college careers and this transition affects everyone differently. This piece explores the grey areas of the mental health spectrum specific to undergraduates at The University of Texas at Austin through the use of research, dialogue, theatrical techniques and self care.

Project Lead: Spring Snyder

The Missing Element

The Missing Element infuses chemistry with performance through the art of acting, dance, music composition, robotic lighting design, steam-punk costuming and graphic projections. Each character in The Missing Element represents a different element on the periodic table and, by using the basic laws of chemistry the table, is brought to life and life is brought back into the elements that surround us all. As inter-molecular forces interact, bonds and relationships are created and destroyed as the unequal distribution of power and wealth in this dystopian society is challenged.

Project Lead: Danya Gorel

The Rainbow Connection

The Rainbow Connection is a play about the importance of maintaining imagination and creativity. We follow a young man who has lost what we refer to as his "rainbow connection" or the connection to his imagination, due to a family tragedy. As he attempts to rekindle the memories of his lost loved one(s) we watch as both audience and ensemble aid him in reestablishing his "rainbow connection" through a book of stories that come to life on stage.

Project Leads: Martin Rodriguez and Andrew Valdez

This Emotional Closet

This Emotional Closet is an immersive installation that explores the relationships women have with their clothing and the concept of "self." This Emotional Closet questions, "Who am I, and What do I wear?"

Project Lead: Mercedes O'Bannion


TwentyEight is a play that centers around the citizens of the all-black township, Settlement 40. As they protest the forced removal of citizens to the Liberian Space Station by the American government, one citizen is killed every twenty-eight hours by enforcers. This begs the question, "who will survive in America?"

Project Lead: Tyler English-Beckwith

Welcome, Home

Welcome, Home invites the audience into an interactive live blog where four students will re-live, confess and reconfigure the depths of their explorations in Angers, France. Within the intimacy of its own tent, this piece brings home their discoveries through a multi-sensory immersive dance experience. Find a seat wherever you are.

Project Leads: Anna Ingram, Billie Secular, Kelsey Oliver and Zach Khoo 

The Filaments: Sparked by Suzan Zeder 

The projects listed below were selected to be part of The Filaments and were given a space for staged readings with the goal of having a unique experience to experiment their work and receive constructive attention. 

Henry Bishop

Henry Bishop is a lonely centaur who has the body of a sheep instead of a horse. Isolated from the satyrs, centaurs and the world of men, Henry Bishop spends his days knitting, writing haikus and tending to his flock of sheep until, one day, he meets the tree nymph Sylph, who takes him on a journey to see her home tree. This tale of how Henry Bishop discovers himself is told through narrative movement devised by the ensemble.
Project Leads: Patricia Bennett and Alexa Capareda

Life, Death, and All That Nonsense

Life, Death, and All That Nonsense is an existential drama that follows a young man who returns home without his memory, only to find that his family had been murdered. With the help of his childhood sweetheart, he endeavors to solve the murders and figure out who he was. Through encounters with absurdist tea drinkers and a cryptic dandy he discovers the unpleasant truth of his past.
Project Leads: Savanna Shaffer and Frances Molina

Love, Life, and What I Lost

Life, Love, and What I Lost is an original song cycle that explores the ups and downs of life as a twenty-something. Presented through a series of vignettes, this musical piece addresses these experiences one by one; the thrill of first love, the fear of the unforeseeable future, the loss of a loved one and what it means to love something and let it go. Life, Love, and What I Lost is a colorful and emotional tribute to a generation of not-quite-adults who are just trying to figure it all out.
Project Leads: Natalie Patton and Lilly Stafford

No More

No More, is a dance theater piece that aims to address the subject of domestic violence through the abstraction of dance, narratives utilizing speech, printed media articles and an interactive composer/musician.
Project Lead: Morganne Mazeika