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Isabella Dawis is a Filipina-American performer and writer based in Minneapolis. Her creative roles include playwright, actor, singer, librettist, lyricist, composer, music director, pianist, director, and dramaturg. Equally comfortable working in plays, musicals, and opera, Isabella works to thread global traditions and feminist perspectives into American theater and music. Isabella is the recipient of the 2022 Kleban Prize in Musical Theatre for librettists, the 2021 Fred Ebb Award for musical theater songwriting, the 2020 Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award, and the 2021-23 Composers and the Voice Fellowship with the American Opera Project. She was a 2023 Loghaven Artist-in-Residence and currently holds a 2023-25 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship with the Jerome Foundation.


As bookwriter/lyricist, Isabella's musicals in development with composer Tidtaya Sinutoke include HALF THE SKY, the story of an Asian American woman climbing Mount Everest (The 5th Avenue Theatre Radio Play and First Draft Commission, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Theater Mu's New Eyes Festival, Theater Latté Da's NEXT Festival) and SUNWATCHER, about the Japanese female astronomer and "hidden figure" Hisako Koyama (Berkeley Repertory Theater's Ground Floor, Weston Theater Company, Ancram Opera House Play Lab, Tofte Lake Center, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater Global Forms, Goodspeed Musicals Johnny Mercer Writers Grove, The Civilians' R&D Group).

Recently, Isabella contributed original songs and score as composer/live musician for Ten Thousand Things' TWELFTH NIGHT. Her play BONES OF A HORSE, inspired by the WWII military language school Camp Savage and the Japanese Americans who trained there, was commissioned and adapted for audio by Theater Mu. Other recent writing collaborations include BREATHE with composer J. Oconer Navarro (54 Below, NYU), BEFORE THE LAST METER with composer Saman Shahi (Toronto's Watershed Festival, Atlanta Opera's 96 Hour Project), and THIS ONE THING WILL GET YOU THROUGH 2020 with composer/lyricist Emily Gardner Xu Hall (24 Hour Plays). Isabella's work has been featured by Joe's Pub, Musical Theatre Factory, the Kurt Weill Foundation's Lotte Lenya Songbook, and more.

As an actor, Isabella's credits include the Guthrie Theater, Theater Mu, the Jungle Theatre, the Center for Contemporary Opera, the Minnesota Opera, New Ohio Theatre, and many more. She recently appeared as a soprano soloist with the Minnesota Chorale, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic Biennial. Isabella often performs with her sister, singer/actor/violinist Francesca Dawis.

B.M. summa cum laude, Piano Performance, University of Minnesota

U.D. Classical Voice, New England Conservatory of Music

Rockwell Scholarship, Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts

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