reg e gaines is a poet, playwright, director, lecturer and Artistic Director of the Downtown Urban Arts Festival in New York City since 2007. He is a two time Tony Award nominated playwright, Grammy nominated lyricist, ( Bring in da Noise/ Bring in da Funk) and author of four books of poetry including, Abstract Sax and The Original Buckwheat. A former Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam Champ, reg appears in numerous poetry anthologies including, Bum Rush The Page, Paterson Literary Review, Aloud: Voices From The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and A Year in Ink. He has composed the score for the PBS documentary, Senior Year and has released four poetry albums. reg has appeared on seasons 3-4 of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam as well as the Arsenio Hall Show, the John Stewart Show, MTV Spoken Word Unplugged and MSNBC’s Edgewise. He has performed at Woodstock ‘94, Central Park SummerStage, The Berlin Jazz Festival, Carre Opera House in Amsterdam, Aaron Davis Hall, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and NYU’s Gallatin Center. reg is currently writing and directing The 88, a musical with music composed by Calvin Gaines.

James Earl HARDY

James Earl Hardy is the author of the bestselling B-Boy Blues series, including B-Boy Blues, which has been praised as "the first gay hip hop love story" and is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. The other titles in the series are: 2nd Time Around; If Only For One Nite; The Day Eazy-E Died; Love The One You're With; A House is Not a Home; “Is It Still Jood To Ya?" (from Visible Lives: Three Stories in Tribute to E. Lynn Harris); and the latest installment, Men of the House, which is an Amazon Top 100 LGBT bestseller. Mr. Hardy’s stage adaptation of B-Boy—as well as Confessions of a Homo Thug Porn Star: The Tiger Tyson Story—won prizes from the Downtown Urban Theater Festival (the Audience Award in 2013 and Best Short in 2010, respectively). An honors graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, he’s a music feature writer for Pop Mattersand Soultracks. He lives in New York.



Alano P. BAEZ (aka Prophet/Not4Prophet)

ALANO P. BAEZ (aka Prophet/Not4Prophet) is a playwright, Director,  producer, songwriter/lyricist, singer/mc, actor, poet, sharer of knowledge/teaching artist and community agitator. He is former lead singer of the punk band Ricanstruction, mc of the Hip Hop group, X-Vandals, and lead sonero for the Latin soul outfit, Abrazos Army. He has released two books of poetry, Last of the Po Ricans y Otros Afro Artifacts and Mini Manual for the Modern day Machetero: A Poetic Polemic. He starred in and co-wrote/performed the music soundtrack for the award-winning feature film, Machetero. In 2018, his play, Trash Talk: A Play About Garbage, won the award for best short play at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival (DUAF).

Cris Eli BLAK

Cris Eli Blak is an award winning and internationally produced writer. His work has garnered him a Bronze Remi from the Worldfest Houston International Film and Video Festival, the Christopher Hewitt Award in Fiction, a Pushcart Prize nomination and honors from Vectis Radio, Negro Ensemble Company, Clocktower Players and A is For. His work has been produced, performed and/or published around the world, from Off-Broadway (Urban Stages and Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre), West Coast (Theatre of NOTE, Theatre West, Common Ground Theatre, Left Edge Theatre and Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble), Collegiate (Columbia University, Academy of Arts University and Wellesley College), London (The Quean's Theatre and Flawstate), Australia (Melting Pot Theatre), and Ireland (Eva's Echo). He is developing new work with Derby City Playwrights, The Road Theatre, Imaginarium Theatre Company, Milagro Theatre and Et Alia Theater. 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.


Sarah Congress writes comedic scripts for theatre, television and the books for musicals. Most recently, her full-length play The Angel Manual was selected to be a part of the HB Studio Playwrights Reading Series (June 2021), her ten-minute play Atlantics Pharmaceuticals was tied for BEST PLAY at The Theater Project Think Theater Think Fast one-act play festival (February, 2021), and her play The Virtual Sleepover was selected to be a part of The University of Miami Online Play Festival (May, 2021). She is SO delighted to be a part of the Downtown Urban Arts Festival!

Sheila DUANE

Sheila Duane is a playwright, director, and teacher. In 2020, her play Restoration Parts was awarded third place in the Downtown Urban Arts Festival. Unfortunately, the DUAF performances were cancelled due to the pandemic. Her other recent full-length works are: The Loom, Little Methods, Klan Play , and Rules.


Dr. Antoinette Ellis-Williams is Chair and Professor of Women’s & Gender  Studies at New Jersey City University where she teaches: Women, Hip Hop  Spoken Word & Social Change; Women & Leadership; Race, Class, Gender. Immigrant. Mother. Wife. Citizen. Black Woman of God. Sister. Daughter.  Grateful.

Malique GUINN

Malique Guinn was born and raised in Lancaster, CA, where he felt compelled to envision worlds  outside of his own. He is a playwright, screenwriter, songwriter, and lover of people and himself.  He is currently an MFA student in the Dramatic Writing Program at Carnegie Mellon University,  after previously studying under the tutelage of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig at UCSB (’18).


Tommy Jamerson has been writing plays for over a decade. He has received over a hundred professional productions, and his children's shows, The Big Bad Bullysaurus, Princess Pigface, Choose Your Own Oz, and Alice the Brave & Other Tales from Wonderland have been performed all over the world. His one-act comedy, Rags to Bitches, won Best Short  Play at the 14th annual Downtown Urban Arts Festival and starred RuPaul's Drag Race alums Alexis Michelle and Brita Filter. His play love/fantasy also won Audience Favorite at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival, as well as Best New Play at the Playwright's Forum Festival. Tommy holds a BS in Theatre with a Concentration in Playwriting from Indiana State University, and an MFA in Playwriting from the University of New Orleans. He lives in West Orange, NJ with his husband Mark and their dog Darby.


Rollin Jewett is an award winning playwright, screenwriter, author, singer/songwriter & photographer. His screenwriting credits include “Laws of Deception” and “American Vampire”. His short stories, poetry and photography have been published in numerous literary magazines and anthologies and his plays have been produced all over the world. He lives in Holly Springs, NC with his wife and son.


Mel Nieves is a New York based Actor-Playwright-Screenwriter-Arts Educator. He is a member of the award winning LAByrinth Theater Company. His one hour television pilot script, ON THE BOULEVARD was a quarter finalist for both the 2020 Francis Ford Coppola American Zoetrope screenplay competition and the 2021 Atlanta International Screenplay awards. Most recently his play, Prospect Avenue was published by Next Stage Press.


Juan Ramirez, Jr. is a Borinquén-Chapín-Bronx playwright, monologist, director, screenwriter, filmmaker, poet and producer. Notable works include Calling Puerto Rico (Second Round Austin Film Festival, Voces Latinx Finalist Repertorio Español), Ridin Shotgun (Best Play DUAF) and The American Dream (NAV Playwrights Festival, BBTF). He's a founder of The PlayPen Collective and R&R Productions with his wife Cristy Reynoso. He’s a Dramatist Guild member, 2020-2021 Dramatist Guild Fellow, NYC Latinx Playwright Circle member, an ATG PlayLab member and a teaching artist with Art Defined. He received his B.A. from Lehman College and MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch. www.JuanRamirezJr.com

Marcus SCOTT

Marcus Scott (he/him) is a playwright & journalist. Selected works: Fidelio (Libretto; Heartbeat Opera at Baruch Performing Arts Center, 2018; called “poignant” by NY Times), Sibling Rivalries (Long-listed for the 2020 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award; finalist for ATHE’s 2021 Judith Royer Excellence in Playwriting Award and the 2021 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference; semifinalist for 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Award), Tumbleweed (Finalist for the 2017 BAPF; semi-finalist for the 2017/2018 New Dramatists Princess Grace Fellowship Award), Cherry Bomb (recipient of the 2017 Drama League First Stage Artist-In-Residence; 2017 Finalist for the Yale Institute for Music Theatre) and Sundown Town (Finalist for Abingdon Theatre Company’s Virtual Fall Festival Of Short Plays). He has been developed/presented at Joe's Pub, Feinstein's/54 Below, APAC, Dixon Place, Space on Ryder Farm, Symphony Space, NYC LGBT Center, Out of the Box Theatrics, Theatre West, New Circle Theatre Company, MicroTheater Miami, among others. Scott is a four-time finalist for the R&D Group at The Civilians, a two-time finalist for NBT’s I AM SOUL Playwrights Residency and a 2019 finalist for the Bushwick Starr’s Starr Reading Series. His articles appeared in Time Out New York, American Theatre, Playbill, Elle, Out, Essence, among others. MFA: NYU Tisch.

Sheldon SHAW

SHELDON SHAW is a screenwriter, playwright, and actor living in NYC. Right before Covid, Sheldon had his play CNTL+ALT(RIGHT)DEL  workshopped at JAGfest in Vermont, and then a staged reading at the Briggs Opera House. Sheldon’s play “Clair” was a finalist in The Isle of Shoals 2020 playwriting competition. Recently, he workshopped his new play, Billy.Shelly.Ally, with the Eden Theater Company. Sheldon has a BA from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. He studied Playwrighting at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC under Gary Garrison, Jacqueline Goldfinger, Caleen Jennings, and Mark Bly.


Dr. Mary E. Weems' is a poet, playwright, scholar, and author of fourteen books including Blackeyed: Plays and Monologues, and most recently Still Hanging: Using Performance Texts to Deconstruct Racism (Spring 2021) she co-authored with Dr. Bryant Keith Alexander. Weems’ plays have been produced at some level and/or published since 1997 including Closure, Crack the Door for some Air, At Last: Celebrating the lives of Black Women, Hats, and Hey Siri. Weems’ was awarded a 2015 Cleveland Arts Prize for her full-length drama MEAT. Weems has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Dr. Weems may be reached at www.maryeweems.org


Allison Whittenberg is a Philly native who has a global perspective. If she wasn’t an author, she’d be a private detective or a jazz singer. She loves reading about history and true crime. Her novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Tutored,  The Carnival of Reality and The Sane Asylum.  Her plays have been performed at Interact Theatre, The Spruce Hill Theatre, The Festival of Wrights, and The Playwright's Center.