Before she could even walk or speak, McKenya Dilworth began living life in the theater. Her mother and famed playwright Morning Bishop, would read poetry and excerpts from plays to her while still in the womb. So, it only made sense that Dilworth embraced a life filled with writing, directing and acting.
Recently, Dilworth received some news she’d been long awaiting. In 2015, she applied to participate in the La MaMa Umbria Playwright Retreat in Spoleto, Italy and was accepted. Unfortunately, a variety of circumstances during that time resulted in her not being able to attend.
“Although I was disappointed,” said Dilworth. “I trusted God’s plan for my life and knew He would prepare me for the appropriate time and opportunity.”
Since then, she has weathered several personal storms and suffered losses including the death of her mother, but thankfully, those hurdles ultimately taught her to never stop dreaming. Earlier this year, she again applied to La MaMa Umbria and received news on April 20, 2018 of yet another acceptance.
“Not only is it rare to be accepted to this esteemed program more than once, but it serves as proof that this time, it is meant to be,” explained Dilworth.
Once learning of this second chance, Dilworth immediately took to social media not only to announce the great news to family and friends but to ask for their support as she raises funds to cover the cost of tuition which is $3,000. She has developed a GoFundMe page as well as other venues such as QuickPay, PayPal and Cash App to make giving as easy as possible for donors.
“The reaction has been so supportive,” said Dilworth. “Donations and pledges are starting to come in, and I am grateful for every amount no matter the size.”
Dilworth has planned a fundraiser that will feature a catalog of her written works titled “McKenya Unveiled” Wednesday, May 16 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Aquatorium located at 6818 Oak Avenue in Gary, Ind. The donation is $20.
“I chose this date because it’s my mother’s birthday,” said Dilworth. “This and everything I do in the arts is a tribute to her memory.”
Dilworth is also scheduled to perform Sunday, June 3rd at 2:00 p.m. at J’s Breakfast Club, 3669 Broadway in Gary, and will be accepting donations on site.
On her GoFundMe page, Dilworth explains in depth how she plans to give back to her community once attending the 10-day retreat in Italy. She writes:
“A journey to Italy in August would place me in the room with theater professionals from around the world who boast incredible portfolios of plays produced Off and on Broadway and much more! Under the guidance of these experts, I would at long last be able to finish plays that are near completion and pitch them for consideration to be produced by theaters in the U.S. and abroad.
Most important, attendance to this retreat would allow me to gain the knowledge and experience needed to come back to my hometown of Gary, IN and pay it forward using the previously established annual PLAY-FEST — a platform for emerging and novice playwrights through The Morning Bishop Theatre Playhouse, Inc.”
For more information about making a donation to Dilworth’s fund-raising efforts, call 219-308-7630 or email [email protected]. Visit her GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/la-mama-umbria-playwright-retreat.