2018 Athena Project Premiere Production

Athena Project is proud to announce Honor Killing by Sarah Bierstock, which was developed during the 2017 Plays In Progress Series, will make its Denver debut Saturday, September 8, 2018 inside the Elaine Wolf Theatre at the JCC Denver, 350 S. Dahlia St, Denver, CO 80246.

Honor Killing - Athena Project 2018 Premiere Production

Honor Killing is a suspenseful and compelling story of New York Times reporter Allisyn Davis  who is investigating the honor killing of a young Pakistani woman at the hands of family. Allisyn is denied entrance to Pakistan, but armed with the most current technology, she conducts her investigation remotely from Dubai. Through a series of cultural collisions, candid interviews, and dangerous encounters she learns the horrifying details of the killing. Cultural bias, technology, and the limits of ethical reporting converge in this tale of two women trapped by their circumstances and culture.

Honor Killing was chosen from over 250 scripts submitted to Athena Project’s development series, Plays In Progress.  Our series accepts the scripts of women playwrights. Scripts chosen for development are presented as workshops, staged readings, or table readings. Honor Killing was presented as a table reading during our 2017 Athena Project Arts Festival, and then was refined and enhanced with support from our director, dramaturg, and audience feedback. Since 2017, the play has enjoyed a world premiere at the Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, Florida and we are delighted to bring a fully produced production to Denver audiences.

The show will run from September 8th through the 30th on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 PM with Sunday matinees at 2 PM.

*Honor Killing contains use of explicit language, sexual content, frank discussion of violence against women, and current worldview political discourse. Suitable for mature audiences.

Each Sunday there will be a panel discussion immediately following the performance. Talkbacks will be led by Courtney Cauthon, Athena Project board member and Honor Killing dramaturg.



I’m thrilled to share this story with you and I hope that you drive home conversing about the many ideas that this play gives us to think about. For me, this play has many layers and I believe that one of our jobs as theatre artists is to push the boundaries of how we think about the world. A person’s perspective is their reality, but we don’t have to stay there.

This play is not about Pakistani culture; it is a story about multiple worlds and perspectives, each with their, own “truth,” and each with something to learn from the other. We want to consider who has the right to tell what stories and what perspective they are coming from.

In addition, this play takes the stand that violence against women is never a solution. Whether it’s happening a world away or in our own communities, we must come together and speak out against it. Victims shouldn’t have to be the only ones to speak out. We need to call it out before it happens, before another young girl gets hurt, or someone takes another woman’s life. Commit to speaking out and commit to telling at least one friend about your thoughts about our play. And if they are complementary, then by all means tell ME directly! I’m proud to be sharing this story with you–and speaking out.

Angela Astle, Director and Athena Project Executive Producer


Panel discussions will be held immediately following each Sunday matinee performance.

Sunday, September 16th: The Ethics of Telling Another Person’s Story
Artists and journalists often have the opportunity to bring to life and share the stories of other people. Their storytelling helps us to learn about the world and and experience it in new ways. What are the ethics of telling and sharing stories that are not your own? Whose voices are heard and whose are silenced? Join us for a discussion of the ethics of telling another person’s story.

Sunday, September 23rd: Technology/Media and the Consumption of News
The emergence of the 24hr news cycle and the proliferation of technology has changed the way we consume news media and tell stories. More information than most of us can critically process is at fingertips whether we want it or not. Join us for a discussion about how we as both news/media/story creators and consumers critically access and assess the media that surrounds us?

Sunday, September 30th: Navigating Violence Against Women Globally and at Home
The World Bank suggests that worldwide 1:3 women and girls worldwide are impacted by some form of violence. News and media outlets often make us aware of certain forms of violence against women while mitigating others. How do we better understand the relationship between violence against women globally and the violence that happens in our own country?



Caitlin Conklin - Athena Project Artist

Caitlin Conklin


Caitlin Conklin is thrilled to be part of this production with the Athena Project. Recent roles include Gertrude in Seussical (Town Hall Arts Center), Emilie in Les Liaisons Dangerouses (Miners Alley Playhouse), Female Authority Figure in Hairspray, (Town Hall Arts Center), and Raven/Goat’s Mother in The Robber Bridegroom (Town Hall Arts Center). Other favorite credits include Oklahoma! (THEATREWORKS), Sleeping Beauty (Miners Alley Playhouse) and Beauty and the Beast (Vintage Theatre). Much love to mom, dad, Benjamin, and Molly!

Seth Palmer Harris - Athena Project Artist

Seth Palmer Harris


Seth is thrilled to be working on his first full production with the Athena Project, having previously appeared in Mama’s Eggnog as part of the Athena Project’s Plays In Progress series earlier this year. Next up, you can catch Seth in a staged reading of Lysistrata at Theatreworks and then in Twist Your Dickens at the Aurora Fox. Seth was born in Germany and raised in Minnesota but Colorado is his home. He wishes to thank everyone involved in this production for making it such an exceptional experience.

Lisa Kraai - Athena Project Artist

Lisa Kraai


A Colorado native, Lisa studied theatre at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, receiving a B.A. Degree in Communications with a minor in Theatre/Speech. In her 20 plus years of doing theatre in Colorado, Lisa has performed extensively throughout the Denver and surrounding areas. Some of her most note-worthy and award winning roles have been: To Kill A Mockingbird (Miss Maudie), The Crucible (Abigail Williams), Psalm of Purgation (Belinda), Grace (Sara), Apple (Lyn), August: Osage County (Ivy Weston), The Women of Lockerbie, Proof (Catherine) (Winner Best Leading Actress Award), The Trip To Bountiful (Thelma) (Winner Best Actress), and Lovers: Winners (Mag) (Winner Best Actress, Heidelberg, Germany).

RJ Wagner - Athena Project Artist

RJ Wagner


RJ Wagner (Edward) is honored to make his Athena Project debut. REGIONAL: Peter and the Starcatcher (THAC/BDT Stage), Music Man (Candlelight), Saturday Night Fever (Arvada Center), Jon (Catamounts); Great American Trailer Park Musical, Rocky Horror Show (VVTC). FILM: MENver, Black Coffee, Dear Eleanor, The Undercard, Sirens and The Cylinder. Graduate of Loretto Heights College/BFA, Denver, Colorado. Thanks to the entire cast and crew for their dedication and hard work. To the women of the world especially my love…Cindy.

Yasmin Sweets - Athena Project Artist

Yasmin Sweets

Mehreen/Immigration Officer

Yasmin is delighted to mark her postnatal return to the stage in a premier production of Athena’s. She previously performed in two of Athena Project’s Plays in Progress series. When she is not in the theatre, behind the mic or in front of the camera, she works as a Study Abroad Coordinator at University of Colorado Denver. Her MA is from Columbia University and her BA from CU Boulder. She has studied eight languages and struggles to keep them straight.

Hossein Forouzandeh - Athena Project Artist

Hossein Forouzandeh


Hossein holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual & Performing Arts from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. You may have seen him take part in a past Athena Project Plays In Progress series as Gary in Handcrafted Healing. Hossein recently played the worthy Thane, Ross in THEATREWORKS’ Shakespeare at the Ranch production of Macbeth. Pivotal roles as of late: Sandeep in BETC’s Ideation, Ali in The Happiest Song Plays Last with the Curious Theatre Co. Please visit HosseinF.com for more info!

Jihad Milhem - Athena Project Artist

Jihad Milhem


Jihad Milhem is pleased to be making his debut with Athena Project. His past Regional Credits include: The Colorado Shakespeare Festival: Ed Carmichael in YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, Clarence in RICHARD III, HORATIO in HAMLET and R&G ARE DEAD; BETC: Babur in GUARDS AT THE TAJ; The Edge Thea tre Co.: RICKY ROMA in GLENGERRY GLEN ROSS, NED in THE NANCE; The Catamounts: Mr. Bingley in YOU ON THE MOORS NOW.


Sarah Bierstock - Athena Project Artist

Sarah Bierstock


Sarah Bierstock is an actor, singer and playwright. She is delighted to have HONOR KILLING introduced to Denver audiences by the Athena Project! HONOR KILLING received its world premiere this Spring at Florida Studio Theatre (FST). Previous development includes: Athena Project’s New Works Reading Series, FST’s Richard and Betty Burdick New Play Development series, Fresh Takes Reading Series at WAM Theater, InProximity Theater (PROJECT W Festival at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City), Pioneer Theater (PLAY-BY-PLAY Series- Salt Lake City, Utah), The Bridge Initiative: Women in Theater (Her Voice- New Play Reading Series), and Guild Hall (the John Drew Lab, East Hampton, NY). Sarah is currently working on her second play. sarahbierstock.com


Angela Astle - Athena Project Executive Producer

Angela Astle

Executive Producer/Director

Angela Astle is the proud creator and producer of Athena Project, a Denver based nonprofit that empowers women in the arts. While she loved directing in New York, her favorite Denver directing credits include A View From the Bridge (Edge Theatre), The Laramie Project (Evergreen Players), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Edge Theatre) for which she won an Edgy and Marlowe Best Director award, and American Girls (Edge Theatre). In addition, she has produced 2 other festivals celebrating the work of local playwrights and numerous staged readings. She has enjoyed developing new plays for the past 10 years.

Rachael Henney

Rachael Henney

Associate Producer

Rachael earned her BFA in Theatre and BA in English at Stephens College and completed her MA in Arts, Festival and Cultural Management at Queen Margaret University in Scotland. Most recently she worked with Imaginate as a Festival Assistant and the Royal Lyceum Theatre as Assistant Producer for the Connections 500 Festival in Scotland. Her heart is with new play development and she is thrilled to be back with Athena.

Courtney Cauthon - Athena Project Artist

Courtney Cauthon


Courtney is forward-thinking researcher, educator, and artist. She is a lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Denver and a communications specialist at ARTiculate: Real&Clear. For Athena Project, Courtney is a Board Member and the Special Projects Coordinator. She is the lead researcher for Athena Project’s annual survey of gender parity in theatres across the Rocky Mountain Region. Courtney holds a PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Toronto and a Master’s in Performance Studies for New York University. She is driven by projects that bring together her love of theatre and communication with her desire for creating a more equitable world.

Geneva Mattoon - Athena Project Artist

Geneva Mattoon

Stage Manager

Geneva is a Colorado native and studied Stage Management at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has stage managed for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Local Theater Company, The Cutting Ball Theater, The Juilliard School, and with Work Light Productions on the national tours of Mamma Mia and RENT. She is thrilled to be working on her first Athena Project production!

Christin Woolley - Athena Project Artist

Christin Woolley

Production Coordinator/ASM

Christin is a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder where she received her BFA in Stage Management. She is currently employed at the University as the CU Presents Box Office Manager. In her free time she can be found Stage Managing in the theatre, working with BETC, Square Product, and other companies across the front range. She is overjoyed to work with Athena Project empowering women in the arts and creating powerful works.


Jen Kiser - Athena Project Artist

Jen Kiser

Light Designer

Jen is pleased to be working with the Athena Project for the first time. She is the ATD and lighting designer at the Lone Tree Arts Center, where she has designed numerous shows, including Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There and Evita (Henry Award). Previous designs were seen at Goodspeed Musicals, Hartford’s TheaterWorks, the Arvada Center and others. She has worked for the Guggenheim Museum, and assisted designers at venues including Papermill Playhouse, Carenegie Hall and Broadway’s By Jeeves.

Reed Otto - Athena Project Artist

Reed Otto

Video Designer

Reed Otto is an artist & designer based in Boulder, Colorado. His work explores the dichotomy between the natural and artificial faces of the human condition through combinations of digital media, physical environments, and live performance. He aims to reveal inherent truths about the world and inspire self-reflectivity in humanity. He is excited for this opportunity to collaborate with the many artists involved in Honor Killing and The Athena Project.

Sierra Smith - Athena Project Artist

Sierra (CeCe) Smith

Sound Designer

Sierra ‘CeCe’ Smith is a current student at University of Colorado Boulder and a candidate for Theatre Design, Technology and Management with a concentration in Sound Design. Her focus is in straight plays as well as new plays. CeCe fills her time with school productions, working in the scene shop on the CU Campus and reading comics when she can. She is very excited with this opportunity to work with the Athena Project and present this fantastic new work with the Denver area.

Tina Anderson

Set Designer

Tricia Music

Costume Designer


Athena Project is excited to be participating in the “Tap Shoe Initiative” supporting the Denver Actors Fund. The Denver Actors Fund, a non-profit organization established in June 2013, is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the Denver theater community find themselves in situational medical need. The Denver Actors Fund offers both financial and volunteer assistance. To date, The Fund has distributed over $234,000 to help recipients with medical bills, insurance, co-payments, supplies and more.

Theatre companies all across the metro area are joining the ongoing Tap Shoe Initiative. Perhaps you have seen these tiny works of art created by local theatre artisans collecting spare change inside the shoe at each performance! Money is collected throughout each performance then donated to the Denver Actors Fund. (To see past designs, visit http://www.denveractorsfund.org/tap-shoe-initiative/)

Athena Project is featuring two beautiful shoes at our Premiere Production, Honor Killing. Come to enjoy the show and see the shoes in person. You can vote for your favorite shoe with your dollars and help to support this fantastic cause!


JCC - Athena Project Sponsor


Yasmin Sweets for all of her consultation on Pakistani culture
Nadeen Ibrahim, Palwasha Khan, and Dilkush Khan
Dan Rib and Steve Wilson at the JCC
Connie Lane, Markus, Ian, and the CU Boulder Department of Theatre
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company
Bilal Sami for Urdu translations
Mathew Steveson of Cricket at 38th and Sheridan for the donation of phone

For additional resource material please see information: https://sarahbierstock.com/honor-killing-resources