LOS FELIZ, Calif. — Theatre makers often wear many hats.

Take Lisa Sanaye Dring, a self-described theatre rat. She's done it all. Grant writing, stage managing, acting, directing and now... 

"Playwright!" she shouted joyfully and bubbled over with laughter.

What You Need To Know

  • Skylight Theatre Company is celebrating its 40th season with the theme “Her Vision, Her Voice"

  • Each play in the season was written and directed by women, with women at the center of the stories

  • The world premiere of “Hungry Ghost” opens Saturday and runs through Oct. 1

  • This is the first full produced, full-length play by USC grad Lisa Sanaye Dring

The USC grad has done some solo work, but "Hungry Ghost," which opens this weekend at Skylight Theatre Company in Los Feliz, is her first fully produced full-length play.

Dring was a recipient of the 2020/21 PLAY LA Stage Raw/Humanitas Prize and began writing the three-hander during that time.

It centers around a queer couple who inherits a cabin and encounters a mysterious hermit who lives in the woods. 

A real-life hermit, Christopher Thomas Knight, who lived in the forest for 27 years, inspired the playwright. Knight believed that solitude was the key to freedom.

"He had a very spiritual relationship with aloneness," Dring explained. "I was like sitting in the pandemic feeling alone and not like I was finding freedom. So that sparked it. It was like, what about isolation can become solitude? What is alienation?"

Alienation is a theme as well. 

One character is Asian and argues with her wife about the racism she's encountered since the pandemic started.

"You do not know what it is like to be a disease," the character of Dean, played by Jenny Soo, says.

"I think that this play has to do with the echoes of racism and how they exist in spaces… that aren't racist spaces, inside one's house, inside of an interracial relationship," Dring said. "As an Asian person, there's a lot of unpacking I'm doing about that time and so I wanted to share that and give, you know, my community a place to unpack that together."

Lisa Sanaye Dring with Jenny Soo and Ben Messmer. (Spectrum News/ Tara Lynn Wagner)

That place is the Skylight Theatre Company which is about to wrap its 40th season. 

The theme was “Her Vision, Her Voice,” featuring plays written and directed by women.

“We had so many amazing female playwrights that we wanted to cultivate,” Tyree Marshall said of the selections. “I think with these three plays, the one thing that they have in common is that the women are at the center of their own stories.”

Marshall is the associate producer of “Hungry Ghost” and artistic associate at Skylight. She says cultivating new voices and new talent has always been at the company’s core.

“The main part of our mission is creating new stories, showing new plays and new works and new ideas that you haven’t seen before,” she explained. “Here, we want to say something different. But we also want to…empower people that haven’t been empowered.” 

Attracting audiences to new works can sometimes be a challenge, but Skylight has a phenomenal track record for discovering emerging writers and new works. 


For instance, “Bronco Billy, the Musical” had its world premiere at the small theatre in 2019 and will open on London’s West End in a couple of months. 

Meanwhile, Dring is getting ready for her second world premiere. Her play “Sumo” will open in a few weeks at La Jolla Playhouse.

“I mean, this is not a humble thing, but I think Skylight has a really good knack for finding talent,” Dring said. “I think playwrights I’ve seen here go off and do really beautiful things.”

And she hopes to be one of them. She’s already got commissions from several other theatres around LA but says it’s special to be celebrating this major career milestone with a theatre company whose work she’s long respected. 

All ascents have a beginning, and one gets the sense that with Dring, the sky is the limit.