Meet The Panelists for the NYC Audio Theater Writing Contest

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

The New York City Audio Theater Writing Contest is an independent production created and funded by Jason Hewett. Anyone from anywhere can enter by submitting up to 3 short scripts to by September 6th, 2019.

The primary goal of the contest is to develop a new platform for storytellers and audiences who struggle to connect with mainstream and classical theater. We want to achieve that by finding engaging and fresh stories.

The entries will be judged by a panel of judges who specialize in developing stories like the ones we are looking for.

Sajda Waite

Sajda Waite is a born and raised NY theatre artist and a self-proclaimed Master in Thespianage. This past year she and her nearest and dearest co-founded the theater company Showdogs.

In Showdog’s debut production of Speak Easy, Sajda was a triple threat, actor, director, and featured playwright. This past year Sajda and the Showdogs team were featured in the 2019 Fresh Fruit Festival where they took home the award for Outstanding Short Play.

​ Sajda is a proud graduate of Hunter College, where she earned a BA in both Theatre and Media Studies. Some of her noteworthy past productions include A Doll’s House, Clybourne Park, Clickbait, and Our Town. Sajda appeared in the Rascal Art’s Theatre Festival: Ladybug Skins, The Lift-Off New Play Series: The Meadows, and most recently in Tess McGuinness's Sigh No More, which was part of NYTF's 2019 Summerfest.

As a co-founder of Showdogs, Sajda is committed to creating art that showcases diversity in storytelling and wants to empower those who may feel alienated by the current commercial theatre. Part of Showdog's mission is to help foster new-works with their own Playwrights Collective, so she is beyond excited to help do the same with the NYC Audio Theater Writing Contest!

Dana Besmanoff

Dana Besmanoff is an arts administrator, improviser, and dancer based in Chicago. She is the Development Manager at Raven Theatre, now entering its 37th season of reviving classic plays and showcasing the next generation of notable playwrights by producing regional and world premieres.

By night, Dana improvises at various comedy venues around Chicago and produces a monthly show at The Crowd Theater with her sketch team, FiasCo. She enjoys discovering new ways to engage with the city's vibrant artistic and cultural resources.


Jarrod Allan

Jarrod Allan is a producer, writer, and actor. For the last five years he's served as the Executive Director of the Joust Theatre Company. The Joust is a company dedicated to new play development, focusing on plays that are relevant to today's society, sensitive to our changing world and the people in it, and fearless in their presentation and depiction of the challenges humanity faces.

In his time with the Joust company, Jarrod has produced more than thirty productions and helped to start the Writer's Round Table, an initiative to develop new plays from an idea to the stage. In the program's first two years, eight new plays from emerging playwrights have been workshopped and given some of their first public readings and performances, if not the very first. The Round Table is now in it's third year, with another four plays in early development ranging from simple, intimate dramas to high concept, generational stories spanning years. Independent of Joust, Jarrod has worked with several companies as an assistant producer, including Loose Change Productions (The Mulberry Tree), Spiderwoman Theatre (Material Witness, A Midsummer Night's Dream), and La Mama ETC (also Material Witness, Spiderwoman's 40th Anniversary Gala).

As a writer, Jarrod's work has been featured as part of several of Joust's evenings of short works and his debut full length play, Same Time, Next Week, appeared as a part of the Thespis Summer Festival at the Hudson Guild in 2016. For three consecutive years he wrote horror shorts for Nightmare Before Insomnium, a Halloween party and theatrical event run annually by Insomnium Theatre Company. He is currently working on several other scripts including, Flesh and Blood, the story of the first sentient AI and its "child," and a science fiction novel, Journey to Earth.​

Kathy Fleig

Kathy Fleig holds a BFA in Dramatic Arts, and is a proud founding member of the Blue Line Theatre Company on theatre row in Los Angeles, where she served on its Board of Directors. Blue Line was fertile ground for new works and innovative revivals. As a company member, she played everything from Amelia Earhart, to an angel, to a hard-bitten co-worker in Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine. She was fortunate enough to originate the role of Mary in the world premiere of Jim MacNerland’s As Angels Watch, which was later published by Samuel French. At Blue Line, Kathy produced the one woman show Mother Lode, written and performed by Cheryl Harnest.