Drew Student Earns Recognition as a Playwright

Alyssa Sileo C’22 combines passions for writing and social issues

July 2020 –  When Alyssa Sileo wrote her play, Digital Sapphism, as part of her Drew University playwriting course, she didn’t think it would go beyond The Forest’s classrooms or stages.

When it recently earned honorable mention honors for the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, which recognizes feminist plays written by women and genderqueer artists, she was thrilled.

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Sileo stands outside Eberhardt Hall where she lives in the Women's Concerns theme house.

“The play has been shaped by Drew through and through, which makes its resonation with outside groups even more meaningful to me,” said Sileo.

A Baldwin Honors and Civic Scholar, Sileo submitted her play for the award with no expectation for recognition nor feedback, and is grateful to have received both, especially for a play focused on feminist themes.

“I believe theatre is one of the most—if not the most—effective tools for consciousness-raising and building coalitions. Theatre, performance and storytelling have been the medium and vehicle of marginalized communities’ longevity and social survival,” said the rising junior.

“Writing this play was one of the first times I felt I was able to use two of my passions—writing narrative and exploring social issues—to create a tangible piece that people responded to, laughed along with and engaged in. I was able to express my feelings as a young queer woman who is most interested in making literary content about the sapphic experience.”

Sileo hopes that this award is a catalyst towards a career in playwriting that taps into her personal passions.

“I have found that my heart is in both writing and movement work,” she said.

“When I dream big about life after college, I see myself working with organizations that are focused on decarceration efforts, transformative justice and mutual aid. I believe my theatre education equips me with embodied storytelling, strong understanding of narrative, and love of community.”

For now, she is looking forward to the rest of her time in The Forest, collaborating with the Tectonic Theater Project and working on the physical or digital version of her play.

“To have the play recognized not only by the incredible Jane Chambers Playwriting Award committee but also the Drew community has shown me the best parts of the playwright’s experience.”

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