The Sixteenth Season at THEATERWORK will include a winter festival of four new chamber plays written by New Mexico playwrights Leslie Dillen, Dale Dunn, Jenice Gharib and Angela Janda.

The plays will be presented in full productions at the James A. Little Theater in Santa Fe on the days spanning February 17 - 26, at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday; and 2:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

These new works are based on or inspired by the poetry and lives of four extraordinary, and very different poets: Denise Levertov, Lorine Niedecker, Anne Sexton and Amy Clampitt.

Here is some information on the playwrights and their subjects:

PSALMS of the CASTLE by Leslie Dillen



LESLIE DILLEN Ms. Dillen has appeared as an actor in theatre, television and film – in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston. Her plays have been produced in Massachusetts, New York, California and Washington; and were work-shopped at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab and the Bay Area Playwrights festival. She has written and performed five one-person plays, including her award-winning ME & GEORGE, presented throughout the U.S. and at the Edinburgh Fringe; and ACTION JESUS, which was presented at the New York International Fringe festival. Five of Ms. Dillen’s ten-minute plays have been produced in the Boston Theater Marathon. Her most recent full-length play, TWO WIVES IN INDIA, has had development productions at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and at the Santa fe Playhouse. Additional recent productions in Santa Fe include her ten-minute play STANDING HEAT in Benchwarmers, and her one-act play THE DEAL in Women’s Voices.

Ms. Dillen trained with Sanford Meisner at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, and attended the American Conservatory Theatre under William Ball in San Francisco. She received her Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Boston University. She is a member of Dramatists Guild.

DENISE LEVERTOV The poet was born in Essex, England on October 24, 1923.She was educated at home, showing enthusiasm for writing from an early age. She studied ballet, art, piano and French as well as standard subjects. She was deeply influenced by Judaism as well as Christianity. When she moved to the United States she came under the influence of the Black Mountain Poets, especially the mysticism of Charles Olson.

She wrote and published twenty books of poetry, criticism and translations. Among her many awards and honors she received the Shelley Memorial Award, The Robert Frost Medal, the Lenore Marshall Prize, the Lannan Award, a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She worked as poetry editor for The Nation and taught at Brandeis University , MIT and Tufts University.

She was married to American writer Mitchell Goodman. They had a son, Nikolai. She became an American citizen in 1955.

In 1997, Denise Levertov died at the age of 74 from complications due to lymphoma.

O Taste and See
The world is not with us enough
O taste and see
the subway poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imaginations tongue,
grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform
into flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard, and being
hungry, and plucking
the fruit.



DALE DUNN Ms. Dunn has worked in New York as a dramaturg and assistant director for Joanne Akalitis at Mabou Mines, Theater for the New City and The Public Theater; and Julia Miles at the Women’s Project. Her early plays, NEWPLACE, VENUS RISING and an adaptation of Swift’s GULLIVER’S TRAVELS were produced Off-Broadway and at Columbia University where she received her MFA from the School of the Arts. In Los Angeles she worked in script development for Tri-Star, Disney and Paramount Studios and was foreign correspondent for Rizzoli’s Multi-national publication, Max Magazine.

Having recently moved to Santa Fe, Ms. Dunn returned to writing for the stage with BODY BURDEN, produced at the Adobe Theatre in Albuquerque and the Armory for the Arts Theater in Santa Fe. Her short works OUR PLACE, PARAKEET LOVE and OLD FAITHFUL have been produced at Fusion Theater, Warehouse 21and the Los Alamos Little Theatre. She also teaches workshops in writing for theatre at area high schools and volunteers her time at Wood Gormley Elementary School.

LORINE NIEDECKER Poet Lorine Niedecker was born on Black Hawk Island near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin on May 12, 1903, and lived most of her life in rural isolation. She grew up surrounded by the sights and sounds of the river until she moved to Fort Atkinson to attend school. This world of birds, trees, water and marsh was to inform her poetry for the rest of her life. On graduating from high school in 1922, she went to Beloit College to study literature, but left after two years to care for her ailing mother. She marries in 1928, but this lasted only two years.

Her work faltered for many years, but saw a renewed interest in the 1960s. Her books published in the last decades of her life, included My Friend Tree, T & G: The Collected Poems, 1936-1966, North Central and My Life By Water.

She had earned her living scrubbing hospital floors, “reading proof” at a local magazine and renting cottages. She had lived at the edge of poverty for years. Her marriage to Al Millen in 1963 brought financial stability back into her life. She died on December 31, 1970, leaving several unpublished typescripts. – many of which were burned at her request. Her comprehensive Collected Works were published in 2002, edited by Jenny Penberthy.

UNTITLED by Lorine Niedecker
February almost March bites the cold.
Take down a book, wind pours in. Frozen,
the Garden of Eden – its oil, if freed, could warm
the world for 20 years and never mind the storm.
Winter’s after me – she’s out
with sheets so white it hurts the eyes. Nightgown,
pillow slip blow thru my bare catalpa trees,
no objects here.
In February almost March a snow-blanket
in good manure, a tight-bound wet
to move toward May; give me lupines and a care
for her growing air.


THE TIDE by Angela Janda


ANGELA JANDA Angela Janda’s work has appeared in journals including Whitefish Review, the New Mexico Poetry Review, The Santa Fe Literary Review, and polvo magazine. She was recipient of a 2006 New Mexico Discovery Award for poetry.

She grew up in rural Minnesota, graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. She has been a member of THEATERWORK’s Permanent Company for seven years, appearing in such productions as EMIL’S ENEMIES, OPHELIA, ANTIGONE, LEGACY OF LIGHT, BELLE MORAL,THE IMAGINARY INVALID, THE CLEAN HOUSE, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, THE TEMPEST, SCENES FROM AN EXECUTION, SOUND OF MUSIC and others.

AMY CLAMPITT Poet Amy Clampitt was born on June 15, 1920 of Quaker parents, and brought up in New Providence, Iowa. In the American Academy of Arts and Letters at nearby Grinnell College she began a study of English literature that eventually led her to poetry. She graduated from Grinnell and from that time on lived mainly in New York City. To support herself she worked as a secretary at the Oxford University Press, a librarian at the Audubon Society, and a freelance editor. Her first poem was published by The New Yorker in 1978.

At the age of sixty-three she published her first full-length collection The Kingfisher . In the decade that followed, Clampitt published five books of poetry, including What The Light Was Like, Archaic Figure and Westward. Her last book, A Silence Opens appeared in 1994. She was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and taught at the College of William and Mary, Smith College and Amherst College. She was the recipient of a 1982 Guggenheim Fellowship. She died of cancer on September 10, 1994.

Kudzu Dormant (by Amy Clampitt)
Ropes, pulleys, shawls,
caparisons, tent curtains
the hue of mildew, strung
above the raw, red-gulleyed
wintering hide of Dixie –rambunctious eyesore,
entrepreneur (as most are)
from away off somewhere,
like the overdressed though
feral daffodils that prosperunder burnt-out chimneys, in
middens, lethargies, debris
of enterprise that’s slipped
into the lap of yet another
annal of the poor: deploreit formant or, on principle,
admire it green, a panacea
rampant is what’s muscled
in – a charming strangler
setting the usual example.



JENICE GHARIB Jenice Gharib has written essays, reviews, poetry, feature stories and plays. Her work has appeared in publications such as Vision Magazine, Not Enough Night and Sin Fronteras. Two of her short plays – SOME KISS WE WANT and THE DRESSING ROOM – have been produced. With THEATERWORK she appeared in and/or produced new work for AS KINGFISHERS CATCH FIRE: A CELEBRATION OF THE POETRY OF GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS; SUCH STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON, a poetic response to Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST; and OTHER ANTIGONES, a response to Jean Anouilh’s ANTIGONE. She is a member of the THEATERWORK Permanent Company.

ANNE SEXTON Ms. Sexton was born Anne Gray Harvey in Newton, Massachusetts on November 9, 1928. She spent most of her childhood in Boston. In 1945 she was enrolled at Rogers Hall boarding school, Lowell, Massachusetts. For a time she modeled for Boston’s Hart Agency. On August 16, 1948, she married Alfred Sexton and they were together until 1973. She had two children – Linda Gray and Joyce Ladd.

Sexton suffered from severe mental illness for much of her life, her first manic episode taking place in 1955. She took up poetry at Glenside Hospital. Her poetry met early acclaim. A number were accepted by The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine and The Saturday Review. In the late 1960’s the manic elements of her illness began to affect her work, though she still wrote and published work and gave readings. She also collaborated with musicians, forming a jazz-rock group called “Her Kind”. Her play, MERCY STREET was produced in1969, after years of revisions.

Within twelve years of writing her first sonnet, she was one of the most honored poets in America: a Pulitzer Prize winner, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the first female member of the Harvard Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

On October 4, 1974, Sexton had lunch with poet Maxine Kumin to revise Sexton’s manuscript of The Awful Rowing Toward God, scheduled for publication in March 1975. On returning home she put on her mother’s old fur coat, removed all her rings, poured herself a glass of vodka, locked herself in her garage, and started the engine of her car, committing suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Oh, love, why do we argue like this?
I am tired of all your pious talk.
Also, I am tired of all the dead
They refuse to listen,
so leave them alone.
Take your foot out of the graveyard,
they are busy being dead.Everyone was always to blame:
the last empty fifth of booze,
the rusty nails and chicken feathers
that stuck in the mud on the black doorstep,
the worms that lived under the cat’s ear
and the thin-lipped preacher
who refused to call
except once on a flea-ridden day
when he came scuffing in through the yard
looking for a scapegoat.
I hid in the kitchen under the ragbag.I refuse to remember the dead.
And the dead are bored with the whole thing.
But you – you go ahead,
go on, go on back down
into the graveyard,
lie down where you think their faces are;
talk back to your old bad dreams.

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