The Welders Playwrights’ Collective is excited to announce its new cohort of artists beginning their tenure as The Welders in January 2024! The Welders looks forward to seeing the incredible work that Rebecca Dzida, Kelsey Nicole Jenkins, Taylor Payne, and Shaquille Stewart produce, and knows that the DC community is in store for more original, community-based storytelling and theater.
Speaking of the opportunity to produce with The Welders, Shaquille Stewart expressed on behalf of his fellow artists: “As artists and storytellers, we seek collaboration and community. There are so many stories to be told, not just our own. In reaching out to our city, to you, as Welders we embrace the spirit of passing it on. We are humbled, honored, and filled with gratitude for this opportunity and the purpose it represents.”
With gratitude and hope for the future of DC theater, The Welders invite supporters of local, new, and empowering theater to support the new members as they prepare for their new roles by donating to The Welders here.
About The Welders 4.0
Rebecca Dzida grew up in California and lives in Washington, DC, where she received her M.F.A. in Playwriting from The Catholic University of America. Her day jobs include developing community engagement programming and organizing the cross-country tour of National Players for Olney Theatre Center. Rebecca’s work has been performed around the country. She is a two-time finalist of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for her ten-minute plays. Her one-act The Greatest Performance was nominated for the Playwrights Award at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City. She has also been commissioned for various work around DC, including Capitol Fringe and the One-Minute Play Festival. Her full-length thesis play Preggers, or Parenthood for Virgins premiered at CUA as part of the M.F.A. New Play Rep and was featured in the Washington Post’s list of best arts events in 2017. You can read her work on the New Play Exchange and listen to her play Cake Eaters on the podcast Inkubator On Air.
Kelsey Nicole Jenkins
Kelsey Nicole Jenkins is born and raised in Takoma Park, MD. Growing up, Kelsey and her brothers were all a part of the arts and Kelsey was always “the director” of anything she could get her hands on. Kelsey took her passion for the arts and organization to college and attended Full Sail University for her first semester of college for a BA in Event Production. After taking a semester off, Kelsey began attending Montgomery College as a performing arts student. Shortly after being cast in a few plays, Kelsey was given the opportunity to try out Stage Managing. She fell in LOVE with it and the rest is history. Kelsey has been Stage Managing professionally since 2014 and couldn’t have found a more perfect career. Her credits include Exclusion (upcoming), Arena Stage (Production Assistant); The High Ground, Arena Stage (Production Assistant); The Color Purple, Signature Theatre (Production Assistant). Previous (post-COVID) SM credits include The Mamalogues, 1st Stage; Dainty – A Staged Reading, Mosaic Theater, The Burn, Montgomery College. Previous (Pre-COVID) SM credits include Once on This Island, The Barrie School (Stage Management Mentor); “Hello! My Name Is…”, The Welders; ISM: A Comedic Tragedy, Mosaic Theater; The Washington Revels: Christmas Revels (2014-2017). Previous ASM Credits: Charm, Mosaic Theater; Hooded, Or Being Black for Dummies, Mosaic Theater.
Born and raised as a DC local, Taylor began her theater journey at 16 years old with the Washington Theatre Lab. From there, she achieved her A.A. degree in Theatre Performance from Montgomery College and began performing in the area while continuing her formal education online. She acted and taught throughout the area, taking an earnest approach toward Shakespeare and devoting four seasons to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, as well as completing the two-year program at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts (NCDA) in Georgetown, DC. She was then invited to the Actor’s Repertory Theater at NCDA, where she honed her directing, writing, and film composition skills while earning her B.A. in Graphic Design from the University of Maryland Global Campus. After this, she invested her creativity into children’s theater, touring across the DMV area, and performing in a one-woman show with Building Better People Productions while earning her M.A. in Marketing, Graphic Design, and Computer Sciences from Towson University. She prides herself on being an artist above all else, and seeks any avenue to continue to create.
Actor, writer, musician, and administrator, Shaquille Stewart has been active in the DC theater scene since 2014, is an active company member at 4615 Theatre Company, and has a deep love for the art form. A native of Wheaton, MD, he’s lived in DC, MD, and Virginia all in the last five years, and no matter where he finds himself, calls this city his true home. Though blessed to have an active acting career, he has three rap albums, paints regularly, and will be having a play produced in 2023 in Baltimore. At his core a deviser, Shaq believes that devised theater is the future of the art form because of its multifaceted collaborative nature that paints a wider picture than one person can alone. While on tour with the National Players, he taught various workshops, led several talkbacks, and engaged with many different types of people all over the country. Outside of art, he is the office manager for Troika Entertainment, an international touring company that runs both union and non-union tours where he helps with accounting, booking, as well as day-to-day operational duties. Shaq has a wide range of work experience, ranging from pricing analysis, patron services management, e-commerce, photography, even soapmaking. Jack of all trades and striving to master them all, Shaq continues to fervently pursue his main passion, which is self-actualization through art. Recent stage credits include Mlima’s Tale, (Various) 1st Stage; Tempered, 4615 Theatre Company (self); Macbeth (Banquo), PG Shakespeare in the Park; Do You Feel Anger? (Howie), Theater Alliance; Museum 2040 (Sebastien), 4615 Theatre Company; as well as Othello (Othello) and Alice in Wonderland (Alice #3) all with National Players Tour 69.
About the Welders
The Welders is a DC-based playwrights’ collective that provides an evolving, alternative platform for play development and production. Through our platform, we inspire and encourage each cohort of producing playwrights to:
• Take risks and make bold leaps in exploring the craft of playwriting
• Produce one performance of work created by each member playwright over the course of three years
• Create significant, meaningful, direct engagement between artists and members of the community
• Support future generations of DC-area playwrights, by passing on the organization and its resources to a new cohort of playwrights at the end of their tenure
Founded in 2013, by Bob Bartlett, Renee Calarco, Allyson Currin, Caleen Sinette Jennings, Jojo Ruff, and Gwydion Suilebhan, the third “generation” of Welders playwrights began its tenure in 2020 and will transition leadership to Welders 4.0 in 2024. Learn more about The Welders at thewelders.org.