Players & Playwrights

Meet the players and playwrights of the games we play at Dungeons + Drama Nerds. Below you’ll find headshots and bios for the players of our Second Season.

Lancer

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Todd Brian Backus (Derrick McDuck, he/him) is a co-producer of Dungeons + Drama Nerds and a lifelong RPG enthusiast. Although relatively new to TTRPGs he is a level nine warlock and not so long ago finished his role as DM for his close friends’ ongoing Big Lizard game. When he’s away from his D20s Todd is a literary manager, dramaturg, and director of new work. Some of his favorite directing projects include Let’s Play Play by Ben Ferber (Brick Theater/GamePlay Festival), Sparks Fly Upward by Eleanor Burgess (Everyday Inferno/Developmental Lab), The Nature Room by Nora Sørena Casey (Portland Stage/Studio Series), and The Absentee by Julia Doolittle (Portland Stage/Little Festival of the Unexpected). Todd also writes plays from time to time like Emily Dickinson: Paranormal Investigator. Keep up with him at toddbrianbacks.com or just about everywhere as @tbbackus.

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Jovane Caamaño (Hatuey, he/they) is a queer, boricua actor and educator based in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. By day, he teaches with Story Stage in Fort Worth to guide young people in creating plays about whatever they can imagine, while empowering and equipping them to continue to tell stories for the rest of their lives. By night (and elsewhen), he has performed at several theatres in DFW and around the country, as well as voiced a variety of characters on the Writer Wrong podcast. And all the time, he loves to consume, share, and create stories that make him think and feel things; to learn, speak with, and coach dialects and accents; to knit; to be reminded of how insignificant and significant he simultaneously is; and to make and experience all kinds of art. He has long been interested in TTRPGs, and D+DN’s ethos and explorations are immensely pleasing to Jovane’s nerd-brain. So he is seriously stoked and grateful to get to play and story-tell with these fellow nerds! You can witness how he continues to fail at maintaining a social media presence @jove_aw_nee on Instagram.

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Ben Ferber (18,000/Fish, he/him) is a theater artist who creates pieces about technology and the Internet. He writes, directs, designs sound and projections, and performs; he often fills more than one of these roles in his work. Full-length work includes I’m Very Online (Neukom Award semifinalist), For the Lulz (Williamstown Theatre Festival; Portland Stage), and Let’s Play Play (Brick Theater/GamePlay Festival). His solo performances (ironically done with multiple performers) include Artifacts (The Tank) and Aliterary Reading (The Shed Space). He GMed the Paranoia campaign of Dungeons + Drama Nerds, 73 Jpegs I Desperately Need, and has more actual play work on the way. He co-created Hot Pepper Theater with D+DN host Todd Brian Backus, and he produces the currently-dormant Maxamoo podcast. He's a longtime New York Madness company playwright and director. He's worked in the artistic departments of Williamstown Theatre Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club, and The Lark. You can find him on Twitter (and basically everywhere!) @benferber.

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Tristan B Willis (Decency B. Damme, they/he) is a playwright, administrator, graphic designer, and game creator interested in queer, trans work and the intersection of theatre and games - including making meaningful, interactive experiences for audiences. As a former resident of the Orchard Project’s Liveness Lab, they discussed and cultivated new ways of presenting theatrical work in digital spaces. Tristan has coordinated the theatre Washington Mentoring Program since 2018 and currently works with Young Playwrights’ Theater. He is a member of the Playwrights' Center and Freelancer’s Union. You can learn more about Tristan and their work at tristanbwillis.com.

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Julia Doolittle (GM, she/her) is a Los Angeles and New York City based screenwriter and playwright. (Plays are those things we did before the plague. They had lights, costumes, Nathan Lane?) Her work has been seen at SecondStage, Ensemble Studio Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Portland Stage, Williamstown and more. Julia was born in Reseda, CA, known only for that one Eagles song and The Karate Kid. She attended seven years of Catholic School before enrolling at Sarah Lawrence College, rated by the Princeton Review as “The exact opposite of Catholic School in every way.” Julia was very happy there. Post-graduation, she moved to New York City, worked a lot of terrible jobs and hated Andrew Cuomo before it was cool. Currently, Julia is writing for film and TV, her latest feature currently attached at a major production company. Two of her plays are slated for workshops and productions in 2022, barring Zeta variant or whatever they come up with next.

Oh Dang! Bigfoot Stole My Car With My Friend's Birthday Present Inside

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Chris Diercksen (Hank McGruff - Wacky Navigator, He/They) is the Artistic Director of Team Awesome Robot, a New York City based theater company focusing on the dramaturgical development of new plays and advocacy of the people who make them. Credits include: Rush by Callie Kimball, That True Phoenix by Daniel John Kelley, Let's Do That Hockey by Madhuri Shekar, and Break by Samantha Fairfield Walsh. He is also one of the lunatics behind Drinking & Dragons, a live-play tabletop RPG event that empowers the audience to affect the story... and also encouraging a rowdy fun time.

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Mieko Gavia (Chet Daystar - Smooth Face, She/Her) is a writer, actor, producer, and all-around oddball from Indianapolis, Indiana. After graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in Theater, Mieko followed the classic scenario of a small-town girl with big-city dreams and hightailed it to NYC. Her acting credits include Joan of Arc in the forthcoming La Pucelle, Lou Salome in Lou at the Paradise Factory, the webseries Quarter Century (Imani), Afterswarm at JACK (Gigi), Gardener of Stars at Detroit’s Light Box (Gardener), The Reenactors at Abrams Arts Center (Actress 2), and Creative Time’s installations: Private Moment (Alice) and The Privilege of Escape (Dr. Crenshaw). Mieko’s play Dog has been performed at the Gene Frankel Theatre, her play Afterswarm (co-written with Heather Harvey) has been performed at JACK, and her non-theatrical writing has been featured in Bustle, Buzzfeed, Oxygen, and Efniks. She is also a producing ensemble member for Black Revolutionary Theater Workshop, a Brooklyn based, social justice focused theater company. On her off hours Mieko can be spotted foraging in used bookstores or wherever cheap food abounds. You can also catch her at www.miekogavia.org

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Susan W. Rodgers (Helma Shrinkley - Wise Investigator, She/Her) is a strong, short little Irish-Indonesian force of nature. She is currently at Montgomery College, studying Theater Performance and is in their spring musical, Working. Having a deep love of Commedia Dell'arte, she has trained at Traveling Players Ensemble, and interned with Faction Of Fools DC. She also loves Halloween, and has worked at Field of Screams as a Scare Actor. She's a singer, and can sometimes be seen at the Sandy Spring Open Mic. She has GMd Oh Dang... for her friends, and wants to share that in her game, Bigfoot stole the presents for Disney World's Beast because he was in love with him. Susan is taking a pottery class with her dad, and her current goal is to be better than her dad at everything. She is already succeeding. She's @SusanWRodgers on Twitter, and @snow.whasian on Instagram and Tiktok. Everyone please take care of your mental health!! Or else.

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Shannon Wade (Geraldine “Gerrie” Winters - Brawny Driver, She/Her) is an arts educator, puppet maker, puppeteer, clown, playwright, and many other things besides! She has been lucky enough to teach and perform with arts organizations across the country, including the Yocum Institute for Arts Education (PA), Omaha Theater Company at The Rose (NE), Portland Stage (ME), and PortFringe Theater Festival (ME). Shannon currently works as the Director of Education at STAGES Youth Theater in Portland Maine, where she often uses elements of TTRPGs to teach young people about storytelling, collaboration, and improv. When not working with kids, in a theater, or playing games, Shannon enjoys hiking, biking, stiltwalking, baking bread, and sticking googly eyes onto things.

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JonJon Johnson (GM, He/They) is a sometime guest on Dungeons + Drama Nerds as well as Moon Harbor Heroes. They're a multi-hyphenate artist in the DMV Theatre Community, with a focus on Directing (though he gained his popularity as an actor and musician). He's a professional Tabletop GM for hire, running primarily Fifth Edition D&D, but also several other systems, under his company: DunDunDungeons. Love to ET, KH, RT, SWA, RB, and MB. 

Kids on Bikes

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Emma Covert (Fred Hudson, she/her) is a theatre artist/technician and freelance photographer/illustrator, and a 2019 graduate of Franklin & Marshall College where she received her B.A. in Theatre and minored in Studio Art. When not building or fixing something or other backstage, Emma spends most of her time chasing birds or rewriting campaign notes for her various home games while her players debate the merits of every single type of french fry. She will be working as a Carpenter for Festival 56 this summer before joining the Gulfshore Playhouse as a Carpentry and Scenic Production Intern in the fall, and is thrilled to roll some dice with some awesome people!

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Percival Hornak (Hank Boswell, he/they/xe) is a dramaturg, playwright, and literary manager who loves games, ghost stories, and plays about lesbians. They are currently pursuing their MFA in Dramaturgy at UMass Amherst, and are the proud Literary Manager of Team Awesome Robot. Percy spent two seasons as an Allen Lee Hughes Fellow in Arena Stage's Literary office, where he worked on several productions as a script supervisor and production dramaturg. Other companies xe has worked with include Andy’s Summer Playhouse, Luna Stage, and the Theatre Communications Group. TTRPGs have been a lifelong love of Percy's, and he has several years of experience as a GM in several D20 and Powered by the Apocalypse systems. Check out his website at percivalhornak.com

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Esther Yumi Ko (George Privanathan) is a Korean-American writer and photographer who grew up in (and escaped) New Jersey. By day, she works as an arts administrator in higher education. The rest of the time, she creates and consumes stories about hyphenated identity, liminal spaces, tech mediated communication, multiverses, and memory. During the pandemic, she socially distanced by driving through the country then wrote about it on her blog: paragraphsandpixels.com. Follow her on IG for pretty photos and Twitter for angry rants about economic injustice: @estheryumiko

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Ella Mock (Kodi Thompson Lee Garcia Smith, they/them) is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist and educator, intimacy choreographer, and sex & consent educator with Speak About It. They have been an Education Artist with Portland Stage Theatre Company, teaching Shakespeare and storytelling to most ages. They trained with Theatre of the Oppressed NYC in Forum Theatre, has had their clown heart opened by many excellent clown facilitators, and earned their BFA in Socially Engaged Arts with a Decolonial Sexuality Studies concentration at Goddard College. They currently occupy the unceded lands of many nations, including the Eno, Shakori, and Skaruhreh.  They want you to look up whose land you live on at  https://native-land.ca/.

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C. J. Linton (GM, he/him) is a game designer and dramaturg who writes about robots, change, and making difficult choices in impossible circumstances. Theatrically, he has worked in dramaturgy and administration for Actors Theatre of Louisville, Center Theatre Group, Studio Theatre, and Olney Theatre Center. C. J. holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and sociology from Johns Hopkins University, where he served as the Executive Producer of Witness Theater for two seasons and researched American cyberpunk literature and independent bookstore survival strategies in the Amazon age. In the tabletop gaming realm, C. J. is the designer of Those of Us Who Know Better and Bring Down the House and the co-designer of Tomorrow on Revelation III. He is also joyfully a perpetual GM, most frequently of Cyberpunk 2020/RED and recent indie releases. You can find him on itch.io and Twitter @NearFutures. For more of his work, visit cjlinton.com.

Bluebeard's Bride

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Gina Femia (The Virgin)'s work has been seen/developed at MCC Theater, Playwrights Horizons, EST, The Flea, Page 73, Playwrights’ Center, CTG, Theater of NOTE, Panndora Productions, among others. Plays include ALLOND(R)A (2019 Kilroys List, Winner: Leah Ryan Prize, Runner-up, Yale Drama Prize), THIS HAPPENED ONCE AT THE ROMANCE DEPOT OFF THE I-87 IN WESTCHESTER (2019 Kilroys List Honorable Mention), We Are a Masterpiece (Winner: The Doric Wilson Award, Stage Rights publishing), The Mermaids' Parade (Finalist, American Blue Ink Award, Semifinalist, The Relentless Award, Finalist, Princess Grace Award), For The Love Of (Original Works Publishing), and The Violet Sisters (Great Plains Theatre Conference).

 

Gina is a 2019-2022 Core Writer with the Playwrights Center, and an Alum of EST Youngblood, Page73's Interstate 73, Ingram New Plays Lab, Parsnip Ship's Radio Roots Writer's Group, Pipeline Theatre’s PlayLab, and New Georges' Audrey Residency.  Gina’s a New Georges Affiliated Artist and has received residencies with Page73, Powerhouse, NTI at the O’Neill, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Fresh Ground Pepper. MFA, Sarah Lawrence College (Lipkin Prize in Playwriting).

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Haleh Roshan (The Animus, she/they) is an Iranian-American writer with hereditary neuropathy (CMT). Her work fuses leftist politics with intercultural narratives to challenge global power structures and trouble conceptions of identity and ability. Her plays A PLAY TITLED AFTER THE COLLECTIVE NOUN FOR FEMALE-IDENTIFYING 20-SOMETHINGS LIVING IN NYC IN THE 2010S and FREE FREE FREE FREE are published by Dramatists Play Service. Previous pilots include BELLWETHER (2016 Austin Film Festival Second-Round Semi-Finalist) and THE LEGITIMATE (Screen Craft Quarter Finalist).

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Kory Flores (The Witch, she/her) Kory is a jack of all trades. From acting to directing, she's run the New York gamut in the pursuit of happiness. She has found it in a dark cyber hole in Paranioa, where her love of improv and spending time with distant friends can come together as one. Kory currently works for Rumble as a fitness trainer in Manhattan and lives with her beloved rescue cat, Garbage.

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Romana Isabella (The Mother, they/them) is a playwright, performer and producer with roots in Ukraine and Argentina. Their plays include HYENA!, which they performed at La MaMa, the International Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the United Solo Festival (winner of “Best Experimental Show”) and Martyrs, which premiered in La MaMa’s Spring 2018 Season. Romana is also a 2017 Fellow of the Lambda Literary Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.

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C. Meaker, "Meaks" (The Groundskeeper, she/they),  is a playwright, director, teacher, independent horror scholar, and Dungeon Master who loves all things terrifying and witch-related. Meaker's plays have been performed and developed across the United States including the Kennedy Center and National New Play Network, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Annex Theatre, About Face Theatre, and the Playwrights’ Center, among others. Meaker's work is "reality-adjacent," often playing with conventions outside of kitchen-sink realism, focusing on queer characters and feminist themes that tend to be bleak and funny at the same time. They're a Stranger Award Genius Nominee (That'swhatshesaid) and a Gregory Award Outstanding New Play Nominee (The Lost Girls). Meaker is an alumna of Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Writers Group, and a previous Walter E. Dakin Fellow (Sewanee Writers Conference) and Jerome Fellow (Playwrights' Center). Meaker received an MFA from the University of Iowa's Playwrights' Workshop. You can read more about their work and see pictures of the horrifying things they've done at courtneymeaker.com. For pictures of their cat, visit Instagram. If you want to know what tea she's drinking, she's on Twitter.

Blades in the Dark

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T.P. Huth (Princess Mirena Alonda Gracielle Valerio of the Grayfire Line, Alias: Her Highness) is a theatre artist and educator in the DC area, with her dramaturgical, playwriting, and directing work seen across the DC metropolitan area. They are also currently producing Moon Harbor Heroes, a Masks: A New Generation actual play podcast, and are an active member of the Masks podcasting community (including writing and producing an original musical crossover with over a dozen Masks APs). You can find her on Instagram or Twitter at @tphuth94

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Whitney Lehn Meltz (???, Alias: Wick) is a scenic designer, prop artisan, and colorful genderqueer cryptid based in Las Vegas, NV. They can mostly be found smeared with paint in the scene shop of the Nevada Conservatory Theatre, where they are a resident scenic artist and designer whilst pursuing their Master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They are eagerly spending this year exploring the relationship between themself and theatre/art/storytelling, as they are currently One Stressed Grad Student in Search of a Thesis Topic. Whitney’s sanity saving hobby is the sporadic D&D campaign still running from their undergrad days, in which they play one half of a pair of kenku twin siblings. Keep up with the shenanigans at meltzdesign.com, or @whitney_lehn_meltz on a sometimes forgotten Instagram. 

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Nicholas Orvis (Milos Jeduin, Alias: Needle) is a dramaturg, director, literary manager, and tabletop roleplaying game enthusiast, as well as one of the Managing Editors for Theater magazine. As the Literary Associate for Premiere Stages at Kean University, Nick served as the dramaturg on over a dozen workshops, readings, and productions, and grew the company’s annual submission pool by hundreds of playwrights. He’s also worked at Portland Stage Company, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Luna Stage, and the Tank, and his short (fan) fiction has appeared in Wayfinder magazine. He has over a decade of experience in tabletop roleplaying games (mostly as a GM).

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Dex Phan (Gabe, Alias: Gabe) is an American-born, Vietnamese, gay man looking to inspire others to be their best selves. A former marine mammal trainer and park ranger, he now works within a QA team at a global water and soil research laboratory in Pennsylvania. But in his free time, he enjoys writing and reading about unabashedly queer characters, designing Vietnam-inspired fantasy settings, and subverting expectations of what Asian Americans should be. He hopes to one day be able to put books on shelves that he wishes he had had when he was younger. Keep up with him on Twitter @rexarino.

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Ran Xia (Ellery Crow, Alias: E17) is a Shanghai born, Brooklyn based playwright, director, and sound designer. Resident Director at the Tank (inaugural Artist of the Year Award 2019), where her directing credits include: Independent Study (by Ben Gassman), The Tallest Man in the World (by Ailís Ní Ríain), her own play In Blue, and most recently, Howard Rubenstein's new adaptation of Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, as a theatrical cinematic hybrid production. Recipient of Drama League × Beatrice Terry Residency 2021-2022, alumnus of Pipeline Playlab 2020, and a usual suspect at Exquisite Corpse Co. Sound design credits include: Islands of Contentment (Hypokrit), Zoetrope (ECC), Black Revolutionary Theatre Workshop's podcasts, etc. She'll be directing Orlando by Sarah Ruhl at Barnard College in Fall 2021. Ran is extremely grateful to Nick for being her Gene Wilder in this D&D world of pure imagination. 

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Elliot Peterson (GM) is a freelance theatre electrician in the DC area. She works at several regional theatres like Signature Theatre and Arena Stage. They are a co-producer, player, and occasional GM on Moon Harbor Heroes, a Masks: A New Generation actual play podcast, and a player on Paradigm Academy, another Masks podcast. When she's not playing bi disaster characters, they can be found GMing Powered by the Apocalypse games with friends on a regular basis.  Elliot can be found on Twitter and on Instagram @elliotylen.