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Recently, I served as a faculty member at an all-boys high school in Arizona where i was charged with leading the creation of an Anti-Racist Strategic Plan for the community. Here, I faced my own past trauma of exclusion and derision. With this experience, the memories of community and siblinghood washed over me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had it not been for my community of blood and chosen family. Now, I strive to highlight the beauty of communal strength. 

This is why it is my humbled privilege to support Anya Jiménez in her continued pursuit to explore and share stories of familial love and loss. 

what is it to hold onto the spirit of those we love within ourselves? what is it to hold onto spiritual photographs of memories past? what is it to be pulled into each other’s present with a laugh or a cry? 

Anya, is this spirit pulling me into the beautiful future of people being present for one another. Through her two plays: IT’S OKAY and FMK, she created these worlds filled with only womxn – worlds filled with triumphant love, friendship, and community. Yes, her characters are pained and hurt from overwrought external forces (such as gun shootings and hypersexualized gazes), but they are able to prevail because of the strength of their communities. What a privilege for me to be in these rooms this week!

Anya, I thank you for opening up these worlds and sharing them with us, and more specifically, allowing me into your worlds. You began to hear the rhythms of your worlds and your people – you started to play with stylized theatrical forms in IT’S OKAY and you started FMK with 12 pages and expanded into a first draft of a play! You are a working theatermaker, and I cannot wait to see what more stories you have to offer the world! FELICIDADES! YOU ARE THE BRIGHTNESS THAT THE DARKNESS OF YESTERDAY NEEDED!

FMK started as 12 pages, and after a total of 12 hours, Anya expanded this into a first working draft. She is still exploring, and we thank you for joining at the start of Anya’s sleepover!

victor cervantes jr. 




Anya Jiménez is a writer, singer, and actor. She is currently a Senior Drama major at the Professional Performing Arts School. Her writing has previously been recognized by the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, the Blank Theatre Young Playwrights Festival, the Eugene O’Neill Young Playwrights Festival, and the Lucille Lortel Young Playwrights Festival. She’s super proud to work alongside such brilliant young playwrights and incredible teaching artists, and honored to be part of the MCC family. Shoutout to Ren, Lucy, David, Denise, and Tricia!



Victor Cervantes Jr. is a theatermaker, educator, and community organizer from Phoenix, AZ. recently, he was the Creative Producer for The Homebound Project, a fundraiser for No Kid Hungry, which raised over $150K. he is the former Associate Producer at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (Season 23 + 24), former Co-Artistic Producer of MiddleVoice at Rattlestick (the apprentice company of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, from 2013 – 2018). he aims to support and uplift BIPOC Queer and Trans artists and stories to more visible platforms, and to reach communities that have been pushed to the margins. he has enjoyed teaching for NTI/Theatermakers at The O’Neill Theater Center, ASU, Hunter College, NYU, and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. currently, he is splitting his time between AZ, CA, CT, and NYC on different projects. 1st-Generation College Graduate: BFA NYU/Tisch School for the Arts, Lee Strasberg Centennial Scholar + Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar.



Marisa LaRuffa is a New York based actor/singer/dancer/Scorpio. She is also a former MCC Education intern! As a company member of Emit Theatre, she has played Olivia from Twelfth Night and Caliban/Alonso in The Tempest. Other NY work: Readymade Cabaret 2.0, Cafe Play, Play in Your Bathtub (This is Not a Theatre Company), Stand Up and Cheer… (The Paperbag Players), Oasis Time Travel (Silver Dreams NYC). TV: Gossip Girl (HBOMax). Education: BFA at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, New Studio on Broadway. marisalaruffa.com



Camila Pérez Santiago (she/her/ella) is an actor and theatermaker from Humacao, Puerto Rico. Based in New York City, she is in her second year of MFA Acting at Brooklyn College. Recent theater credits include: MICROTEATRO (Intar) JULIO DOWN BY THE SCHOOLYARD (Intar), PAPER TOWELS (Intar) 48 HOURS IN EL BRONX (Harlem9 at Pregones Puerto Rican Traveling Theater) and CARLA’S QUINCE (Virtual Interactive Tour), among others. She is honored to be a part of FreshPlay Fridays to help playwrights unleash new dynamic work.



Leah Abigail Shifrel is a Junior at Temple University. At Temple, she played Calpurnia in Julius Caesar. She also attended Denison University, where she played Marty in Circle Mirror Transformation. Leah was a member of the Youth Company for 2 years. She loves theater administration and education. Leah hopes to continue a career in TV and film post graduation. Leah would like to thank MCC for always creating space and a second family for her.



Atiya Taylor is a performer with roots in theater and film production. Her performance credits include The Public Theater’s Public Works The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, The Odyssey, Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park) and Hercules. She originated the role of Ginny in American Bard Theater Company’s production of You Wouldn’t Expect and made her associate directing debut Off-Broadway with Mies Julie at Classic Stage Company (CSC)She has been a production manager, stage manager, crew and front of house personnel behind many productions for the New York Film Academy, Aaron Davis Hall, The New Group, MCC Theater and Saint Ann’s Warehouse. Atiya holds a B.A. degree in Theater Arts from The City College of New York. She has made appearances in workshops and readings at HERE Arts Center, Dixon Place and MCC Theater’s FreshPlay Festival.


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