Public Theater (Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis; Executive Director, Patrick Willingham) announced a one-week extension of the world premiere play CULLUD WATTAH through Sunday, December 12. Written by Susan Smith Blackburn Prize winner Erika Dickerson-Despenzaand directed by Lilly Award winner Candis C. Jones, CULLUD WATTAH follows three generations of Black women living through the Flint Water Crisis. The world premiere began preview performances in The Public’s Martinson Hall on Tuesday, November 2 and officially opens on Wednesday, November 17.


Above:Lizan Mitchell and Laren F. Walker in  Cullud Wattah.

The Public has released a brand-new video featuring playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza and director Candis C. Jones in conversation about their history of collaboration, the themes of the play, and how water justice affects Flint and beyond. Additionally, to enhance the experience of seeing CULLUD WATTAH, a curated installation about the Flint Water Crisis has been installed on The Public’s Levin Mezzanine, along with a collection of books provided by The Free Black Women’s Library. Learn more about the installation by watching this video on The Public Theater’s Instagram.

The complete cast of CULLUD WATTAH features Crystal Dickinson (Marion), Jennean Farmer (Marion/Ainee Understudy), Lizan Mitchell (Big Ma), Ta’Neesha Murphy (Plum/Reesee Understudy), Andrea Patterson (Ainee), Alicia Pilgrim (Plum), Chavez Ravine (Big Ma Understudy), and Lauren F. Walker (Reesee).

2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize winner Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s new Afro-surrealist play premieres at The Public about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan. It’s been 936 days since Flint has had clean water. Marion, a third-generation General Motors employee, is consumed by layoffs at the engine plant. When her sister, Ainee, seeks justice and restitution for lead poisoning, her plan reveals the toxic entanglements between the city and its most powerful industry, forcing their family to confront the past-present-future cost of survival. As lead seeps into their home and their bodies, corrosive memories and secrets rise among them. Will this family ever be able to filter out the truth? Directed by Lilly Award winner Candis C. Jones, CULLUD WATTAH blends form and bends time, diving deep into the poisonous choices of the outside world, the contamination within, and how we make the best choices for our families’ futures when there are no real, present options. CULLUD WATTAH comes to us from the same playwright and director duo behind the thrilling digital production of shadow/land.

CULLUD WATTAH features scenic design by Adam Rigg; costume design by Kara Harmon; lighting design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew; sound design and composition by Sinan Refik Zafar; hair, wigs, and make-up design by Earon Chew Nealey; prop management by Corinne Gologursky; vocal arrangements by Justin Hicks; and movement direction by Adesola Osakalumi. Janelle Caso serves as the production stage manager.

The Public is excited to welcome our community back to its flagship home at Astor Place. The Public’s audience policy requires complete COVID-19 vaccination by the date of attendance for access into the facility, theaters, and restaurant. For complete health and safety protocols, visit Safe At The Public.

The Library at The Public has reopened, serving food and drink Tuesday through Sunday beginning at 5:00 p.m. and closing at midnight. The Library will be closed on Mondays. Proof of vaccination will be required for entry. For more information, visit

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