2017-2019 Writer / Director Lab

The 2017-19 Writer/ Director LAB

William Burke & Jackie Sibblies Drury, Co-Chairs

The 2017 Writer/ Director Lab cohort. Photo by Sam Horvath.

Congratulations to the 2017 – 2019 Writer / Director LAB cohort on their amazing showings and presentations during LAB Week 2019, and thank you to everyone who came out to see this work.

Applications for the next round of the Writer / Director LAB will open this spring. Subscribe to our email and social channels for more details.

The 2017-19 Lab:

Jen Goma & Haruna Lee
plural (love)

Haruna Lee is a theater maker navigating non-linear playwriting and the construction of visually rich performance landscapes with their company harunalee. Recent plays with harunalee include Memory Retrograde (The Public’s Under The Radar Festival), to the left of the pantry and under the sugar shack (La MaMa Club), and War Lesbian (Dixon Place). Her play Suicide Forest directed by Aya Ogawa will premiere at the Bushwick Starr in February 2019. They are a recipient of the MAP Fund Award, the Lotos Foundation Prize for Directing, New Dramatists Van Lier Fellowship. They are an affiliated artist with New Georges and currently a member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. Lee has taught at NYU Experimental Theater Wing, Playwrights Horizons Theater School, and PACE University, among others.

Jen Goma is a self-propelled multi-media artist—a performer and maker of music, videos and live shows. A member of the bands A Sunny Day in Glasgow and Roman à Clef, Goma is currently working alongside Kristine Haruna Lee in the Soho Rep. Writer/Director Lab, and recently finished composing/sound designing harunalee’s Memory Retrograde (Under the Radar Fest: Incoming, Ars Nova) and Built for Collapse’s Danger Signals (New Ohio.) As Showtime Goma, her album Smiley Face was released in June of 2017 and Rolling Stone placed it on their list of “Albums to Stream Now.” A member of People Get Ready, she has collaborated on mounting shows at NY institutions like The Kitchen and New York Live Arts.

…on plural (love):

With the performance installation plural (love), Jen Goma & Kristine Haruna Lee flirt with the boundaries of desire, power, and responsibility, building an environment that feels akin to stepping into a soft BDSM roleplay. Always written and performed anew based on its audience and physical surroundings (from the NY Hall of Science planetarium, to theatre festivals, to a hotel), plural (love) is an opportunity for Goma and Lee to report their latest findings on love, desire, intimacy, sex and sexuality, and its relationship to transparency, ethics, and equity.

Originally inspired by auto-theorists such as Audre Lorde, Maggie Nelson, and Roland Barthes, Goma and Lee layer political, cultural, and social theory with their own autobiographical stories as Asian American femme women, and their experiences of desire and being desired. They perform their musings through a pastiche of intricate styles that include pop songs with lyrics by Sartre, femme rituals, live podcasts, intimate humor, radical truth-telling, and community engagement.

Ann Marie Dorr & Paul Ketchum
Good and Noble Beings

Ann Marie Dorr often works on big-little shows with adventurous and ambitious ideas including her explorations of Eugene O’Neill’s Beyond the Horizon (Target Margin Theater Lab at The Brick), William Burke’s Untitled American Flag Craft Project, and Landspace Mechanical by Sarah Loucks (Museum of Human Achievement, Austin TX). Upcoming: continued exploration of How To… amongst other projects with Paul Ketchum and new plays and performances with Sarah Loucks in Austin, TX. She is a proud Associated Artist of Target Margin Theater and a long time collaborator with Minor Theater.

Paul Ketchum is a playwright and performer. You may have seen his plays the Harper’s Play at JACK, the Dangers of Croquet at the Bushwick Starr Reading Series, or various iterations of his How To Series (w/ Ann Marie Dorr). Paul also once ate an onion on stage while handing out very nice scotch. He has performed in plays by Ari Stess, Jordan Baum, and Stephen Charles Smith. He has forgotten everything he learned in his MFA program (Brooklyn College).

…on Good and Noble Beings:

Good and Noble Beings is a stupid adaptation of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. The performance is the result of a compilation of bits of language that Ketchum found funny in the post-structuralist text—and that ultimately started to sound like pieces of dialogue between as many people as possible.

Dorr and Ketchum have no idea what they are doing because A Thousand Plateaus is impossible to read—but it seems, to them, that the book is about nonhierarchical structures of being. They are hoping to deconstruct late capitalist notions of hierarchy and structural meaning while simultaneously blowing everyone’s mind. God is a Lobster. Welcome to the Rhizome.”

Daaimah Mubashshir & Raja Feather Kelly
The Chronicles of Cardigan and Khente

Daaimah Mubashshir is a playwright based in New York City. Awards include a 2018 Audrey Residency (New Georges), a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a Forklift Residency, and a Foundation of Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant. Selected full- length plays include The Immeasurable Want of Light (3 Hole Press), Room Enough (Magic Time @ Judson Church, Clubbed Thumb), There is Something About a Clock Face (The Kilroys, JACK, & Fire This Time Festival) and Rum for SaleUpcoming: a new musical, Emily Black is Total Gift, in development with New Georges.

Choreographer/Director Raja Feather Kelly is artistic director of of the feath3r theory, a Brooklyn-based dance-theatre-media company. Theatre Credits include: The Sandbox DrowningFunnyhouse of a NegroThe Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, and Everybody (Signature); Fairview (Soho Rep.); Everyday Afroplay (JACK); GURLS (Princeton University); Lempicka (Williamstown Theatre Festival); The House That Will Not Stand (NYTW), and Fireflies (Atlantic Theatre Company), and more. Upcoming Choreography includes Hurricane Diane (NYTW), If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka, and A Strange Loop (Playwrights Horizons). Awards include two Princess Grace Awards, the inaugural Dance Magazine Harkness Promise Award, the Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography, the 2018 Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation Breakout Award, and more.

…on The Chronicles of Cardigan and Khente:

“Collaborators Daaimah Mubashshir & Raja Feather Kelly were drawn together out of a desire to locate truths, the sublime, and to expand the vocabulary of blackness on stage. Kelly’s artistic practice combines dance, sketch comedy, minstrelsy, and devised theatre; Mubashshir conceived Everyday Afroplay, a daily theatrical writing practice on blackness and the black body that serves as a well-spring of material for her company of collaborators.

Together, they have developed one Everyday Afroplay into the first episode of a larger work—The Chronicles of Cardigan and Khente—which centers the experience of two black corporate executives as they navigate climbing the ladder toward financial liberation. In the style of a Post – Black Minstrelsy, Cardigan and Khente’s first question is: Why does success and freedom always come down to “what do they think of us?””

Virginia Grise (writer) & Shayok Misha Chowdhury (director)
rasgos asiaticos

Virginia Grise is a recipient of the Whiting Writers’ Award, Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing and the Yale Drama Series Award. Her published work includes Your Healing is Killing Me (Plays Inverse Press), blu (Yale University Press), The Panza Monologues co-written with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press), and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press). She earned her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

Shayok Misha Chowdhury is a queer Bengali director, writer, and performance-maker. He is a Resident Artist at Ars Nova, a member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, a Resident Director at The Flea, a Director-in-Residence at The Drama League, and a recent New York Theatre Workshop Directing Fellow. His work has also been developed and seen at Signature Theatre, SPACE on Ryder Farm, HERE Arts Center, NYMF, Vineyard Arts Project, New Orleans Film Festival, and the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. He is working on upcoming collaborations with Aleshea Harris, Virginia Grise, and Kameron Neal. Misha’s poetry has been published in The Cincinnati ReviewTriQuarterlyAsian American Literary Review, and elsewhere. He is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Williams College Department of Theatre.

…on rasgos asiaticos:

“On October 24th, 1871, 20 Chinese men were tortured and hanged in downtown LA. This mass lynching—the largest in U.S. history—took place on Calle de los Negros, named for its original inhabitants: dark-skinned Californios of indigenous, African, and Spanish blood. This coincidence of space insists: the American story, of migration and displacement, is a palimpsest—a parchment written on, erased, then written on again, the traces of the old words ghosting underneath the new. Virginia Grise’s rasgos asiaticos looks to a history that’s been (imperfectly) erased: Chinese settlement in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. It’s about moving bodies and porous borders—How do you make a home in inhospitable country?

rasgos asiaticos is part hybrid-book—comprising drafts of scenes, splinters of text and poetry, as well as non-textual source material—and part multimedia performance—creating a mosaic of layered voices (speaking English, Spanish, and Cantonese), music, and movement. Director Shayok Misha Chowdhury has selected pieces of the book to excavate in this performance about moving bodies and porous borders, which aims to re-imagine how we think about immigration in the US-Mexico borderlands.”

Peter Mills Weiss & Julia Mounsey
while you were partying

Peter Mills Weiss and Julia Mounsey collaborate on works for the stage. Their work has been presented at Under the Radar at The Public Theater, La MaMa, JACK, Ant Fest at Ars Nova, CATCH Performance Series, and Little Theater at Dixon Place. Peter has performed for or collaborated with artists such as 600 Highwaymen, The Wooster Group, Richard Foreman, and the Wallace Shawn-André Gregory Project. Julia has worked with New York City Players, Soho Rep., The National Theater of Hungary, and was an Assistant Director on Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men. Both Peter and Julia are members of the 2017-2018 Devised Theater Working Group at The Public Theater.

…on while you were partying:

“Peter Mills Weiss and Julia Mounsey take a fantastical approach to analyzing their own histories of aggression, impotence, and mental health with while you were partying. This piece takes the form of a staged reading of a screenplay—a bizarre, self-sacrificing hero fantasy of an aging man-child, whose relationship with his highly supportive mother manifests as a dream ballet with a chilling conclusion.

Weiss and Mounsey began working together after noticing their shared interest in speaking directly to audiences as “themselves” in a way that complicates identity and authenticity. Their work, like [50/50] Old School Animation (which will be performed at Under the Radar at The Public Theater this January 2019) places audiences in uncomfortable spaces as it gets at the heart of challenging moral questions.”

The Soho Rep Writer/Director LAB was founded in 1998 to explore and develop the work of a new generation of theater artists and to foster new collaborations between writers and directors in the beginning stages of the creative process. Now, the LAB remains focused on this collaboration, inviting writer/director teams, of various backgrounds and experience, to apply with new and ambitious projects.

All photos by Kevin J. Frest, whose work can be seen at: freststudio.com

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