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    FRANCE-LUCE BENSON graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing, and holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Florida International University. She is a two-time recipient of the Shubert Foundation Fellowship Award. Her play Fati’s Last Dance received the Lorraine Hansberry Award for Playwriting from the Kennedy Center (Honorable Mention), was one of six plays selected for the inaugural Ignition Festival at Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, a finalist for the Theodore Ward prize given by Columbia College, and the winner of the Mary Marlin Fisher Award given by Carnegie Mellon University. Most recently, Fati’s Last Dance was featured at Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Octoberfest 2010. Also at EST, Risen from the Dough was produced in Going to the River 2009: River Crosses River Festival, Silence of the Mambo, Destiny’s Edge, Ascension, and Floating Under Water have all had readings and/or workshops at previous EST/GTTR festivals, and this year, Ms. Benson was thrilled to have been named a Lifetime Member at Ensemble Studio Theatre.  

    Healing Roots, a feature length screenplay, was awarded the $10,000 prize in the Alfred P. Sloan foundation. From 2001-2004 she served as the Playwright in Residence for the Negro Ensemble Company, and was commissioned to write Barbara’s Keys, which premiered at the Lamb’s Theatre. Da Beat Trap, a one woman show written and performed by Ms. Benson, co-produced by NEC, debuted at the Producer’s Club as part of the Shakespeare N. Haarlem Theatre Festival.  Other credits include Freedom Sea- workshop at the Atlantic Theatre; Out of Focus- produced at Pittsburgh Playwright’s Black and White Festival, Noplace, Somewhere- produced at Bricolage Theatre in Pittsburgh, and D Gme of Luv N Chnc – produced by Ruffled Feathers Theatre.

    In 2010 Ms. Benson founded and served as Executive Director for CAFÉ(Caribbean Association for Females in Entertainment) and produced Kijan Pou’N Geri? at the Abe Burrows Theatre to benefit Haiti’s Earthquake victims. She has served as a Teaching Artist for Manhattan Theatre Club, the Paul Robeson Theatre, is a Playwriting Workshop Leader for Young Playwrights, Inc., an Adjunct Professor for Lehman College. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Inc., and lives in Brooklyn. 


    MARISA PETSAKOS is an actor and writer whose solo work has appeared at Midtown International Theatre Festival (Nominee for Outstanding Production of a Short Subject), EAT’s Illuminating Artist Festival, The Double Helix ONE Festival, Estrogenius, Caroline’s and Metropolitan Playhouse, where she participated in the Alphabet City Project in her piece FIREMAN (featured in the NY Daily News)

    “Petsakos is convincing and funny in all her roles and her sharp wit always hits its target. This reviewer would certainly like to see more of her.”- New York Theatre Wire


    “The various characterizations allow Petsakos to show her comic range, and each alter ego makes a distinct impression on viewers.”     -Backstage


    CYNTHIA G. ROBINSON’S play Ascension was a selected project of Tribeca All Access Open Stage (Tribeca Film Institute, 2004).  It made its world premiere in 2005 at the 5th Annual African American Theatre Festival in Boston, MA (Our Place Theatre Project, Inc.) and received a Best New Play IRNE nomination (2006 Independent Reviewers of New England).  In 2008 it was performed at the 12th Annual New York International Fringe Festival and in 2009 Ascension was performed at the 20th Annual National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC.  Other plays include Thunder: A Musical Memoir (11th Annual New York International Fringe Festival, 2007), The Panacea (First Annual Thomas Barbour Memorial Playwright’s Award, finalist, 2008), Love Psalm (Wildfire Productions, 2004), Leading Lady: Coretta Scott King (Ovation Traveling Theatre), Walk with a Haunted Heart and Dancing on Eggshells (in development). Publication: Gold Star Mother in Showcase: A Journal of SUNY Westchester Community College. Her work has been presented at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Bleeker Street Theatre, The Cherry Lane Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.  She is a member of The Dramatist’s Guild of America and Co-founder and Artistic Director of Robinson Williams Productions.

    Cynthia earned her M.A. in English Education from New York University and her B.A. in English from Syracuse University. She has also done post-graduate work at Trinity College, Oxford University. Cynthia has been an educator for 20 years and currently teaches composition and literature, developmental writing and modern drama at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York.


    HEATHER JEANNE VIOLANTI is thrilled to be part of the Women’s Work Lab!  Heather’s plays have been produced at Manhattan Theatre Source, the DR2 Lounge, the Westside YMCA, Camino Real Playhouse (California), Hygienic Theatre’s 24 Hour Playwriting Festival (Connecticut) and MusicalFare Theatre (in her hometown of Buffalo, NY).  She won the Brinly-Hardy Fellowship for Playwriting at the Mary Anderson Center and was a member of the Groundbreakers Playwrights’ Group at terraNova Collective.  She works as a dramaturg and development associate for the Mint Theater.  Heather is a member of the Dramatists’ Guild.






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    For more information about the Women's Work LAB, contact New Perspectives Theatre Company at 212-630-9945;

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