February 5, 2024 CSA, Press Releases

Melannie Taylor’s Teaira Whitehead is a New Play Seeking Truths in Pittsburgh’s Past

(Pittsburgh, PA) February 6, 2024—This February, the New Hazlett Theater invites audiences to the premiere of Teaira Whitehead, playwright Melanie Taylor’s new play about finding truths in Pittsburgh’s past. Inspired by real events, Teaira Whitehead is a search for answers that leads to even more complex discoveries.

Teaira Whitehead follows three close friends in 2014 who are struggling with the news that their school has been closed. When one of the three friends, Diamond, goes missing, the other two make it their mission to find her. Through their search in Riverview Park on the North Side, they come upon the spirit of Teiara Whitehead.

The play draws from real-life situations, including the aftermath of Teira Whitehead’s disappearance, while blending moments of dream-like mysticism in the woods. Taylor thinks those with local connections and knowledge of the real-life story of Teaira Whitehead would benefit from attending.

“I would say anyone from the North Side, anyone who is from Pittsburgh who wants to learn more about the history of Pittsburgh, anyone who’s a teacher, anyone who is a school principal or school official [should come].”  Taylor says. “Anyone who is looking for healing, aware of Teaira Whitehead, and wants to come in and be reaffirmed in some of those feelings.”


Teaira Whitehead is the third of five productions in the Theater’s 2023/2024 Community Supported Art (CSA) performance series. Now in its eleventh season, the CSA provides a platform for budding artists such as Taylor to create original works for the New Hazlett stage.

Teiara Whitehead attendees will experience music, dance, Afro-tree puppets, and a scripted healing ritual woven throughout the play. Through it all, Taylor hopes the audience will walk away with a deeper sense of connection.

“I want people to walk away feeling empathy, that there are different parts of human emotions. Even though they are scary to look at, it’s always good to face those things within yourself.” Taylor states.

Teiara Whitehead has three showings only: Thursday, February 15th, at 8 PM and Friday, February 16th, at 10 AM & 8 PM. Individual tickets are available for purchase on the New Hazlett website. Tickets range from $20–$30.

The Teaira White production team includes Kim El (Director) and Rikia Davenport (Choreographer). The design team includes Frames (Music Production and Sound Design), Rianne Lindsay (Lighting Designer), Jeremy Pitzer (Costume Designer), Aaron Henderson (Media Designer), and Melannie Taylor (Scenic and Props Designer). The multi-talented cast features Win Nunley (Ayanna/Femme Wall), Cayah Leavy (Rose), Tyler Ray Kendrick (Coach/Hustler), Ameriah Fisher (Diamond), Charlese Dawson (Sunny), Lee Richardson (Dante/Mask Wall) and Neveah Jennings (Teaira/Shadow).


Melannie Taylor (she/they) is a playwright dedicated to creating characters with heart and authenticity; holding space and reverence for Black people in America seeking healing and justice. As an artist, Melannie focuses on the intersection of art and activism, and is committed to the inclusion, protection, and upliftment of the black community.


Content Disclosure: Teaira Whitehead references to sexual assault, police brutality, marijuana use, descriptions of violence.

Teaira Whitehead is presented as a part of the New Hazlett Theater’s 11th Season of CSA, brought to you in part by Fort Pitt Capital.

About Community Support Art (CSA)
Since 2013, the New Hazlett Theater’s CSA Performance Series has brought emerging and mid-career performing artists to the stage. We’re passionate about providing a space for Pittsburgh’s amazing pool of creative talent to develop, collaborate, grow, and flourish. From dance to music, original plays to experimental animation, our CSA pushes the boundaries of performance at every show. For more information, visit https://newhazletttheater.org/csa 

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