Friday, December 21, 2018

BRING THE BEAT BACK... busy behind the scenes

I’m thrilled about what’s in store for my queer, black, sci-fi music-theatre experience.  Things have been quiet publicly, but 2018 has been quite eventful behind the scenes.

What do you think of the new logo? 

I have to share that we lost artist-activist Andre Alexander Lancaster this autumn.  He believed in Bring the Beat Back before there was a single word on a page and nurtured its early development via a residency with Freedom Train Productions. 

Losing Andre hit us hard. I’m grieving and don’t expect I’ll be over it anytime soon, but this somber time also gave cause to re-affirm my commitment to bringing this show to life.  And I’m thrilled to announce that Bring the Beat Back will be in Philadelphia as part of the University of the Arts Polyphone Music Festival, with presentations on Feb 26, 28 and March 2. The official announcement will be going out after New Year’s so stay tuned!

And that’s just one of several opportunities-in-progress for this passion project of mine.  Can’t wait to share more. 

Friday, November 30, 2018


I am proud to be one of the producers on Searching for Isabelle, a short film written and directed by Stephanie Jeter.  This supernatural thriller follows a young black woman who discovers a mysterious ability as she fights to escape a serial killer.

Searching for Isabelle is really making waves, with official selection recognition at eight festivals and counting, a few awards, and a distribution deal via Gravitas Partners on Xfinity’s Streampix platform. Congratulations Stephanie and the whole team!


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

HAIR STORY on OTV - Open Television!!

This digital series is the brainchild of my partner, Aymar Jean Christian, and features an eclectic mix of young creatives struggling to live together in a co-op situation.  Aymar conceived of the project as an experimental vehicle for developing content for the Open Television Platform and invited an exciting roster of Chicago-based artists and writers as collaborators.

I was happy to serve as showrunner for this unique project, leading the script development process for the pilot episode.  Check it out here:


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Serious Adverse Effects on the New Play Exchange

This play follows an unconventional scientist on a quest to cure a mysterious disease.  It’s a little futuristic, a little metaphysical, and is loosely inspired by the experiences of several black women I know who’ve pursued careers in science, technology and engineering.

Nadia Brown and Patrice Bell on the cusp of discovery! Photo by Garlia Cornelia

The Cast: Patrice Bell, Abigail Ramsey, Chris Smith and Nadia Brown Photo by Garlia Cornelia

This spring Serious Adverse Effects came to life as a workshop production helmed by director Mary Hodges and an amazing collaborative team.  The production was  the culmination of my I AM SOUL Residency with Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre and I’m so grateful for the support of NBT in the genesis of this piece! 

I'm expressing my gratitude to Mary Hodges for a great collab. Photo by Garlia Cornelia
Check out the play on my New Play Exchange profile!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Serious Adverse Effects at The National Black Theatre!

Serious Adverse Effects opens at the National Black Theatre in Harlem this week in a limited engagement!

Set in the near future, Serious Adverse Effects follows an unconventional scientist on her quest to cure a mysterious new disease. To succeed she must find forgiveness from a family with no reason to trust her and embrace the transformative potential of her own healing.  It features a cast of four and is inspired by the resilience of African-American women in the 21st century.

The National Black Theatre has nurtured the development of this play via an amazing 18-month residency experience, culminating in this workshop production. Mary E. Hodges is on board as director, with a dynamite ensemble bringing the pages to life! We’ve pushed the workshop to include elements of set design, light and sound.

The National Black Theatre
the workshop production of

Serious Adverse Effects
By Derek Lee McPhatter
Directed by Mary E. Hodges

Featuring: Patrice Bell, Nadia Brown, Abigail Ramsay, and Christopher Smith

March 28 @ 7:30 PM
March 29 @ 7:30 PM
March 30 @ 7:30 PM
March 31 @ 2 PM and 7:30 PM
April 1 @ 4 PM

2031 Fifth Avenue (National Black Theatre Way) New York, NY 10035

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Lattice Crashes at Otherworld Theatre Company

New Opportunities with Otherworld Theatre Company

This February, Otherworld Theatre Company presented a staged reading of my cyberspace, future-shock, hate-crime dramedy – THE LATTICE CRASHES.  Stephanie “Stevie” Mattos directed the presentation for one of the most engaged audiences I’ve ever seen for that piece. Wow.

Otherworld is fast becoming a home from my work. This year’s opportunity built on a short play of mine Otherworld Produced a few seasons ago, and we’re actively discussing some exciting possibilities for 2019 and beyond.  Can’t wait to share more. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 In Review: BUSY BUSY BUSY

WOW.  I took some time over the New Year's Break to look back at the last 365. And it was nonstop. No wonder I'm feeling a little worn out.   

Here was a lot of the good news on the writer/producer front: 

  • Anti-Inauguration Emergency Cabaret with Cynthia Bond, Hi Concept Labs
  • Tutterow Fellow Showcase, Program Kick Off with Chicago Dramatists
  • Inauguration Blues at Chicago Dramatists 

February 2017
  • Otherwise Oblivion Published in special Afro-futurism volume of OBSIDIAN: Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora. 

March 2017
  •  Kick off Bring the Beat Back Campaign with my team!
  •  THAWALLS Event Volunteer Marketing Chair - with LINKS Hall and Threewalls
  • Joined The Dramatists Guild

April 2017
  • Bring the Beat Back @ JACK and The Drama League
  • Lyric Opera Chicago Voices Preparation
  • New Play Commission Pitch Session with Chicago Dramatists for Tutterow Fellowship

May 2017

  • The Lyric Opera of Chicago - Chicago Voices New Work Development Begins

June 2017
  • First Table Read for Serious Adverse Effects at NBT

July 2017
  • Post Production Complete for Stephanie Jeter’s Searching for Isabelle Short Film
  • Creative Development Begins for Hair Story: A Pilot for Serial Dreamer, with OPEN TV-Beta

Sept 2017
Check out our BOW at The Harris Theater

October 2017
  • First Cold Read of New Play in Chicago Dramatists Tutterow Program

November 2017
  • Stephanie Jeter’s Searching For Isabelle – First Public Screening at Black Cinema House (Producer) 
  • November 11 Citizen Jane in Paragon Play Festival 
  • Bring the Beat Back @ Hi-ARTS

The cast and creative team for Bring the Beat Back at Hi-ARTS!

December 2017

  • Private 29 Hour Workshop for Serious Adverse Effects
  • Principal Photography Completed for Hair Story: A Pilot for Serial Dreamer with the team at OPEN-TV Beta. 
Here's Saya Naomi and Erik Lamar Wallace in HAIR STORY...