American Voices New Play Festival

American Voices New Play Festival

Hartford Stage is excited to announce the launch of the inaugural American Voices New Play Festival—June 23-26, 2021. The virtual festival will feature three new American plays by writers with Latinx and Hispanic roots — Ash Tree by Georgina Escobar, Her Math Play by Christina Pumariega, and Simona’s Search by Martín Zimmerman. The American Voices New Play Festival is free with a suggested donation to Hartford Stage’s Raise the Curtain campaign.

Please note: All Festival events are virtual and only available at the scheduled time unless otherwise indicated.

“Supporting playwrights is crucial to the landscape of the American theatre.  Giving these three writers the opportunity to work with actors, directors, as well as space and time to grow, will contribute to the development of their work, and deepen their connection to our community. I am excited to continue the legacy of new play development at Hartford Stage and provide room for this creative process. ¡Accompáñanos!”
Melia Bensussen, Hartford Stage Artistic Director

Melia Bensussen

Festival Kick Off

Wednesday, June 23 at 7 pm

(Recording available to watch throughout the Festival)

Join Artistic Director Melia Bensussen and the festival’s artists for a conversation about the festival and the process of developing new work!

Martin Zimmerman

Simona’s Search

By Martín Zimmerman

Directed by Melia Bensussen**

Thursday, June 24 at 7 pm

Simona’s Search is a moving, poetic look at the bond between fathers and daughters. Curious about her father’s life in Latin America before moving to the United States, Simona obsesses over his secrets, and her thoughts and dreams become haunted by the mystery that is his past.


Simona: Alejandra Escalante*
Papi / Adviser: Alfredo Narciso*
Jake / Doctor: Ryan Quinn*

Stage Direction: Eddie Cruz, Jr. 

Christina Pumariega

Her Math Play 

By Christina Pumariega

Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara**

Friday, June 25 at 7 pm

JoAnne loves Math like a person. But it’s the very language her artist daughter Sam fails to speak. Inspired by the author’s math professor mom, Her Math Play is a love letter to mothers, daughters, latent feminism and Math told in equations and whale song.


JoAnne / et al: Antoinette LaVecchia*
Sam / Adelaida / et al: Rebecca Soler*
Younger JoAnne / Natalie / et al: Xóchitl Romero*
Pedro / et al: Armando Riesco* 

Stage Direction: Nina Lucia Rodriguez; Math Consultant: JoAnne Pumariega; Dramaturg: Zoë Golub-Sass 

Georgina Escobar

Ash Tree

By Georgina Escobar

Directed by Kim McKean

Puppetry Designer: Mindy Escobar-Leanse

Saturday, June 26 at 3 pm

Three sisters faced with their mother’s sudden death engage in a dangerous game of forgetting and make-believe. Amidst confusion, riddles, journeys, and the ever-blurry boundaries between fiction and fact, the sister’s fantastical playtime—inspired by their mother’s bedtime stories—ultimately leads them to a truth and acceptance that inspires their own new story. A dark, humorous and hopeful adventure filled with magical objects, mysterious shadow puppets and a quirky cast of characters. A reading for all those young at heart.


Tristen: Olivia Jampol*
Gaela: Amelia Ampuero
Selene: Mindy Escobar-Leanse*
Beline / Echo: Zabryna Guevara*
Merlin / Gnome: Nelson Avidon*

Assistant Director & Stage Direction: Isabell Karín Rivera; Original music by Georgina Escboar accompanied by Casey Mraz

“Darkest Child,” “On the Shore,” and “Mourning Song” by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 (

Special Thanks: Luis Anchondo 


Special Pre-Festival Event!

Jasmin Agosto

Yerba Bruja: In Memory Of

Created by Sageseeker Productions 

in partnership with Long Wharf Theatre

YERBA BRUJA: In Memory Of is an experimental pilot film that asks collaborators to co-create short performance sets inspired by the yerba bruja plant, which even in the harshest conditions, thrives. 

Watch a virtual debrief with the cast & crew, hosted by Director Jasmin Agosto, discussing the creative process and the powerful collaborations that formed this new work.

Before or after our June 17 event, please visit anytime from June 10 through 24 to watch YERBA BRUJA: In Memory Of.

Martin Zimmerman

Martín Zimmerman (Playwright, Simona’s Search) is a playwright and screenwriter whose plays include Seven Spots On The Sun, On The Exhale, White Tie Ball, The Making Of A Modern Folk Hero, The Solid Sand Below, and Let Me Count The Ways, and have been produced or developed at The Kennedy Center, Goodman Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, Alley Theatre, Roundabout Underground, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Traverse Theatre, LCT3, New York Theatre Workshop, Victory Gardens Theater, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference, Primary Stages, Teatro Vista, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Playwrights Foundation, and Cara Mía Theatre Co among others. Martín is the creator and an Executive Producer on Netflix’s Puerta 7, a Writer/Producer on Netflix’s Ozark, was a writer on Netflix’s Narcos, and is a Playwright in Residence at Teatro Vista. MFA in Playwriting: The University of Texas at Austin. BA in Theater Studies, BS in Economics: Duke University.

Christina Pumariega

Christina Pumariega (Playwright, Her Math Play) acts and writes. Often simultaneously. Her play Lei Chiede (She Questions), inspired by her Italian-American grandmother’s experience interrogating POW’s in Baltimore Harbor, was commissioned by the Ammunition Theatre Company and will be workshopped this summer supported by New Georges. “Her Math Play” has been developed at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, and her work has been seen at the Lark and Ammo’s inaugural Writers’ Lab. Pumariega’s television writing credits include the upcoming Turner & Hooch (Disney+) and Bluff City Law (NBC). Acting on and Off-Broadway, regionally and in television and film, Pumariega has cross examined Coach Taylor, made out with the Fly and set a Cuban pharmacy ablaze in a corset. She leads the collective Más Páginas, which dares more pages from diverse womxn writers. Born and raised in the south, her father is Cuban, her mother is Italian-American. MFA, NYU Graduate Acting Program.

Georgina Escobar

Georgina Escobar (Playwright, Ash Tree) is a queer Mexican playwright and maker of sci-femme narratives, ultra-humanistic mythos, and frontera-funk stories. She works textually and visually with plasticity, the impossible, and the Latin American perspective. Residencies include MacDowell, Djerassi, Fornés Workshop, and she is the recipient of the Darrell Ayers Playwriting and Outstanding Service to Women on the Border national awards. Her work has been featured in the Kilroy’s List, 50PP, and The Mix, and on print in The Texas Review, Lxs Bárbarxs, McSweeney’s, and New Passport Press. Her work appears in “Scenes for Latinx Actors,” “Lighting The Way”, and “El Fuego: Fueling the American Theatre with Latinx Plays” (upcoming).  Her plays have been seen across the USA, México, Denmark, and Sweden. Artistic homes and presenters include INTAR, New York Children’s Theatre, Dixon Place, Clubbed Thumb, Lincoln Center, Bushwick Starr, Two Rivers, Milagro, Aurora Theatre, and the University of Texas at El Paso.

Melia Bensussen

Melia Bensussen (Director, Simona’s Search) joined Hartford Stage in the summer of 2019 as the sixth Artistic Director of the organization. A homecoming of sorts, her first professional theatre experience was assisting Emily Mann on Hartford Stage’s production of A Doll’s House. She then returned to Hartford Stage in 2003 to direct Edwin Sanchez’s production of Diosa. Since then she has directed extensively at leading theatres throughout the country, including productions at the Huntington Theatre Company, Sleeping Weazel, Shakespeare & Company, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, La Jolla Playhouse, Baltimore Center Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the New York Shakespeare Festival, Manhattan Class Company, Primary Stages, Long Wharf Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, People’s Light and Theatre Company, Bay Street Theatre and Playwrights Horizons, among others. Raised in Mexico City, Melia is fluent in Spanish and has translated and adapted a variety of texts, including her edition of the Langston Hughes translation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding, published by Theatre Communications Group. She has received an Obie Award for Best Director (Off-Broadway’s top honor), as well as receiving several awards from the Princess Grace Foundation, including their Statue Award for Sustained Excellence in Directing. A graduate of Brown University, Melia previously served as the Chair of the Performing Arts Department at Emerson College, and currently serves as the Chair of the Arts Advisory Board for the Princess Grace Foundation. She also serves on the executive board of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). Melia loves directing new works as well as classics, viewing every production as an opportunity to introduce an audience to a new story and a different perspective. She is thrilled to be a part of this great theatre, and a new resident of Hartford.

M. Bevin O'Gara

Bevin O’Gara (Director, Her Math Play) is currently serving as the Interim Executive Artistic Director at the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown, MA. As a director she has worked at the Huntington Theatre Company, the Kitchen Theatre Company (where she previously served as Producing Artistic Director), SpeakEasy Stage Company, the Geva Theatre, Actors Shakespeare Project, Company One, Central Square Theater, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Lyric Stage Company. She has also developed new works at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Cleveland Playhouse. She is the recipient of the Lois Roach Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Boston Theatre Community.

Kim McKean

Kim McKean (Director, Ash Tree) is a theatre and film director based in El Paso, TX. Some favorite directing credits include: ANN (TheatreSquared and Stages), Love and Information (Trap Door Theatre, “Best of 2019 in Chicago Theatre” by Picture This Post), The Humans (U.T. El Paso), Masterclass from a Broken Angel (KTEP), Gruesome Playground Injuries (New York Film Academy), and Monsters We Create at U.T. El Paso which she developed with playwright Georgina Escobar. She won several national awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival including “Outstanding Director of a Play” and “Outstanding Production of a Play” for her production of Lydia by Octavio Solis. Her short film, The Arrangements, was nominated for “Best of the Borderscene” at the Borderscene Film Festival. In addition to her directing work, McKean serves as an Assistant Professor of Theatre at University of Texas at El Paso.

Jasmin Agosto

Jasmin Agosto (she/they; Curator, Director Producer/Lead Curandera, Yerba Bruja: In Memory Of) is the founder of Sageseeker Productions, an event/experience curation company based in Hartford, CT that centers Black womxn, womxn of color, non-binary folks, and the queer POC community. By day, she is the Education and Community Outreach Manager at the Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library. She has been working with artists, activists, healers, students, and elders to organize cultural arts and history/herstory focused events, exhibitions, festivals and programs for more than 15 years. Jasmin holds a BA in Educational and American Studies from Trinity College and a MA in Artist Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Community Development from NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.


Stage Manager: Saori Yokoo*
Audio / Visual Editor: Lucas Clopton
Spanish Captions Editor: Malena Gordo 

*Members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States. 

**Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, a national theatrical labor union 

Made possible with support from:

The John and Kelly Hartman Foundation

Adams & Knight