First Round Select for THE TEEN MOVIE CONTEST- hosted by Issa Rae and Powderkeg 2019


Dena Igusti








Assim – Priya’s twin brother. He is a senior in high school and parties a lot. He keeps to himself for the most part at home and doesn’t share his feelings. His secrecy can came off as being secretive but he sees it as his own form of independence. He cares for his family a lot but often blames the distance between everyone on his parents. He has a borderline dependency on marijuana, and uses it as a distraction. He is a jokester and is known for being mischievous, or a “trouble maker”. He is 17.



“SHARUM” explores shame and the ways it manifests within Muslim communities. Shame manifests in ways beyond the jeering eyes of gossiping folks at the mosque. It can be internal, external, presented as protection, concern, and sometimes love. Muslims are constantly forced to navigate life and identity though shame from both Islamophobia as well as community stigma that comes with their other intersecting identities. SHARUM not only addresses various perspectives of what it means to be Muslim, but how there isn’t a “right” way to do right by those around you.


As a queer, Muslim Indonesian woman, I do not see all of my intersections represented in mainstream media. Indonesians are not represented at all unless it’s through an obscure sensational headline or as an ethnically ambiguous action star. While Muslim representation has improved drastically over the years, Muslim Americans are often presented as either Muslim without additional intersections or intersectional Muslims who have rejected Islam almost entirely, especially in the context of being both queer and Muslim. As an underrepresented voice, I not only want to showcase and represent these intersections, but the uncertainty that comes with navigating them.


Dena Igusti is an Indonesian-Muslim poet and playwright based in Queens, NYC. She is currently the co-founder of Short Line Review and collective UNCOMMON;YOU. She is a 2018 NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador, and 2017 Urban Word Federal Hall Fellow. She is a 2018 Works on Water resident and is currently a 2019 Players Theatre Self-Production resident for her co-written Off-Broadway play ‘Sharum’. Her work has been featured in BOAAT Press, The Shanghai Literary Review, and more. She has performed at The Apollo Theater, The Brooklyn Museum, The 2018 Teen Vogue Summit, and more. You can find more of her at


Spotify Sound Up 2020

What are some podcasts that inspire you, and why?  *

Say More by poets Melissa Lozada Oliva and Olivia Gatwood is a podcast where both hosts and guests talk about various topics such as high school, makeup tutorials, exes, Amazon, etc. They talk about how they have to interact with these things as women with intersectional identities and the uncertainties they encounter because of their personal experiences. The podcast is funny, witty, honest, and affirms how we all navigate the world with a sense of uncertainty and care for others. 

What is your elevator pitch for your idea? (A short description of what it is)


Please tell us more about your idea including a description; structure; themes; types/examples of guests if applicable, etc. If you have a pilot or existing episodes, please share, but totally fine if you don’t have anything beyond an idea.


Please note, no experience is not required! However if you have a podcast or experience in radio broadcasting, please include a link or describe here. 

Hosted one episode of a podcast for my literary press, Short Line Review. The podcast interviewed emerging creatives within the tri-state about how they are navigating their artistic fields despite socio-economic barriers, and advice for creatives on how to get started. 

What are you hoping to get out of a program like this?  *

Through this program, I hope to be supported and to continually support women and people of color in an industry that hasn’t always been supportive of us. I hope to be able to express my ideas freely and be able to make mistakes without being judged or reprimanded as a woman of color. I don’t want to fear that I am letting down other women of color for my podcasting inexperience and instead be able to learn all that I can to produce my own show. 

Why do you think the world needs to hear this podcast?  *


Why do you think it’s important to increase the representation of women and people of color in the podcast space?  *

It’s important to increase the representation of women and people of color in the podcast space because often we are talked about but not allowed to be at the forefront of conversations surrounding us. Whether it’s art, science, pop culture, etc. women and people of color are discussion points that are theorized, analyzed, and reduced to sound bytes and archetypes by those who aren’t in our identities. Those same people, who are mostly white cis men, dominate the podcasting industry and present their bias under the false notion of “objectivity.” Women and people of color need to be centered in conversations surrounding them to not only lend their own personal experiences, but to also be to control how these conversations are received by other women and people of color instead of just an afterthought.

What challenges have you faced or do you anticipate facing as a woman of color in the podcast space? What kind of support do you think you’ll need to address these challenges *

While I was in the podcast space for a limited time through my first attempt at creating a podcast, I often faced being undermined because of my lack of technical abilities and having that leveraged against me. Men who audio edited my first podcast would delay deadlines and threaten to not edit or produce the podcast entirely if it wasn’t done their way, which led me to stop the podcast altogether. I also anticipate being mansplained or whitesplained on my own podcast and trying not to have my voice drowned out because I am a woman of color. I would love to learn more about how to interview as a podcast host and how to moderate and lead a conversation in case things go awry, and learn audio editing and mixing skills so I can have some basis as to what I need to look for in terms of sound quality.


Players Theatre Self Production Residency



Play or Musical


Brief Description of Play or Musical

Sharum is a docutheatre play focused on 3 days in the life of a Pakistani Muslim American family. The plot follows first-generation children of Muslim immigrants hiding their personal struggles, such as relationships, mental health, and drug use, from their parents, and have to reckon with what it means to be both Muslim and American.

Estimated Length or Running Time

55 minutes

Number of Actors and Musicians

9 actors

Development History

Table Reading 11/12/18 Hunter College
First Showing 12/20/18 and 12/21/18 Hunter College

Creative Team Bios

Dena Igusti is an Indonesian Muslim playwright and poet based in Queens, New York. She is currently the co-founder of Short Line Review and art collective UNCOMMON;YOU. She is a 2018 NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador, and 2017 Urban Word Federal Hall Fellow. Her work has been featured in BOAAT Press, The Shanghai Literary Review, Teen Vogue and more. She has performed at The Apollo Theater, The 2018 Teen Vogue Summit, and various universities across the country.You can find more of her work at

Mohammad Murtaza is a playwright, actor, and director based in Queens, New York. He is the co-founder of the art collective UNCOMMON;YOU. He has performed at La Mama, Duke on 42nd Street Theater, and more. He has been featured in The New York Times, Village Voice, and more.


Seventh Wave Editorial Residency Cover Letter (2020)

As a queer, Muslim Indonesian in a post-colonial world shaped by what is and what will be lost, what is there left to celebrate? I am overwhelmed by the loss of my people, whether that be the deaths of Muslims around the world due to xenophobia and Islamophobia; the deaths of Indonesians as a result of post-colonialism, state violence, environmental racism, and overall media negligence due to the world prioritizing white people over my own; the mortality of friends, lovers, and family from economic disparity and gentrification in New York City; the loss of my body that could’ve been my body if I didn’t undergo female genital mutilation. I know that one day, my time will be up too. Rather than stay in mourning, however, I am trying to turn these wakes, both current and future, into the biggest celebrations of my life. What’s lost is lost, sure, but what remains are after-images of what I’ve known and the ripple effects of what I don’t know. If memory lives on, so can me and my own, therefore death is not a deadline. Rather, a continuum we constantly move to and from, and dance, cry, laugh, and so much more along the way. Joining the Editorial Residency will allow me to expand on my grief, and help me delve further into the sources of my losses, both personal and systemic. I hope to learn and find more effective ways to expand my work beyond my personal experiences, and learn hands-on approaches to using my writing to further uplift my communities besides just raising awareness.

I have attended a workshop with Winter Tangerine at Poets House and several online workshops offered by Not A Cult Media. I have also taken teaching artist workshops during my Federal Hall Fellowship.