A graphic with clouds in the background that says Dear Mr. C: a memory play with music by Tidtaya Sinutoke.
Dear Mr. C: A memory play with music by Tidtaya Sinutoke.

The Crossroads Project will present a staged reading of Dear Mr. C by Tidtaya Sinutoke, winner of the 2022 Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative. The event will take place in person on Friday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for the Visual Arts (CVA), room 110. The evening will begin with a pre-show conversation with the playwright, followed by a presentation of the play, including musical performances of the songs.

The staged reading is directed by professor of acting Janet Wilson. Music direction will be by assistant professor of musical theatre Maggie Marlin-Hess with piano accompaniment by Grace Ohm, a School of Music alumna. The cast includes M.F.A. candidate in directing Sanhawich Meateanuwat, executive director, Office of Advanced Technology Support for Faculty, and associate professor of accounting Rosie Hauck, Satomi Radostits, and Zenon Zamora.

This event is free and open to the public. Register using the link below:

The staged reading is part of a new play development workshop that the Crossroads Projects operates. Sinutoke will be on campus during the week of April 18–22 to attend rehearsals, visit classes, and interact with students. If you would like to invite the playwright to your class, contact Kee-Yoon Nahm.

There will also be an online staged reading of the play at a later date.

About the play 

Dear Mr. C is an autobiographical play with music about love, family, grief, immigration, and cancer. It tells the story of a Thai immigrant musical theatre writer who tries to find peace after one phone call turns their world upside down. The writer, living in New York, learns that their mother back in Thailand has been diagnosed with endometrial cancer, receiving this shocking news only after a major operation. The writer struggles to deal with the reality of their mother’s illness during a time when they are discouraged from traveling overseas because of their visa renewal process. The play arose from the many poems, monologues, and song ideas that Sinutoke herself wrote during that time to cope with the desperation, anxiety, and depression of not being able to be at her mother’s side while she was recovering. 

“I want to write this play to share some light toward an authentic immigrant story from my own experience,” said Sinutoke. “As a female musical theatre maker, a person of color, and an immigrant, my main goal in writing is to express the meaning of identity, building a community where everyone can share their individual stories, and creating a new generation of theatre of authenticity; of everyone’s ‘American Dream.’”

Tidtaya Sinutoke

About the playwright

Tidtaya Sinutoke (ฑิตยา สินุธก) is a Thailand-born, New York City-based composer, writer, and musician. Composition credits include Half the Sky (The 5th Avenue Theatre’s First Draft Commission & 20/21 Digital Season, Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Richard Rodgers Award finalist), Sunwatcher (The Civilians R&D Group, Weston Playhouse’s Songs for Today, Ancram Opera House Play Lab, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Global Forms Festival), and Dear Mr. C (NYFA’s City Artist Corps Grants).

She received the 2017 Jonathan Larson Grant, the 2020 Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award, the 2021 International Theatremaker Award, and the 2021 Fred Ebb Award. Her works have been supported by the American Opera Project, Composer-Librettist Studio at New Dramatists, Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, Johnny Mercer Writers Grove at Goodspeed Musicals, Robert Rauschenberg Residency, EtM Con Edison Composer-in-Residence, MTF’s Makers Cohort, and the Kurt Weill Foundation. Sinutoke is a proud member of ASCAP, the Dramatists Guild, Maestra, MUSE, and the Thai Theatre Foundation. She received her B.M. from the Berklee College of Music and her M.F.A. in musical theatre writing from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

About the Crossroads Project 

The Crossroads Project is an advocacy committee comprising of faculty, staff, and students that promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance. In the past, Crossroads has invited established playwrights to Illinois State to participate in mainstage productions of their work. Recently, Crossroads presented Ga-AD!  by Ugandan playwright and director Adong Lucy Judith in 2018 and Delhi-based author Manjula Padmanabhan’s Harvest in 2017.

The Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative was created to complement these programs by supporting playwrights of color as they develop new work. In addition to providing opportunities for artists from historically underserved groups, the initiative also creates an environment in which students and community members can interact directly with professional theatre artists. The inaugural staged reading took place in fall 2020 with  Even Flowers Bloom in Hell, Sometimes by Franky D. Gonzalez, followed by The DePriest Incident by Charles White in spring 2021. 

The 2022 Diverse Voices Playwriting Initiative is funded by the Fell Trust at Illinois State University. The Crossroads Project also accepts gifts through the Crossroads Program Fund to support Diverse Voices and other arts programming. Follow us on Facebook.