Our Programs

Mission to (dit)Mars is thrilled to continue the Launch Pad reading series with THE AMERICAN TRADITION,  a new play by Ray Yamanouchi.  This free play reading will be performed on Monday, November 6th at 7pm at The Broom Tree Theatre located at 23-35 Broadway in Astoria, NY.

THE AMERICAN TRADITION is a play set in Antebellum America.  Eleanor—cross-dressing as a white planter—and her husband, Bill—pretending to be her loyal servant—attempt to escape to the free state of Pennsylvania.  In hot pursuit of them is Walsh, a drunk planter and member of the Not All Slavers movement.  The play is directed by Axel Avin Jr.

The evening is presented by Mission to (dit)Mars co-founders Kari Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer, and Laura Pestronk.  

Commenting on the play, co-founder Kari Bentley-Quinn says “With The American Tradition, Ray boldly examines the delicate and painful history of slavery in America while seamlessly connecting it to current political rhetoric. The play is at once horrifying, thought provoking, and laugh out loud absurd.“

Meredith Packer adds “Ray’s ability to make his audience look at the harsh truths of slavery in the 1800’s and it’s legacy of systemic racism today without preaching or pretense is proof of his deft writing ability.”

“The dialogue zips along while the tension sizzles in Ray’s American Tradition, and ridiculously funny moments still hit hard as this play fearlessly takes on the horrendous history of slavery and racism in our country.“ says Laura Pestronk.

This free reading is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.   

To attend, please make a reservation on our website.

The Broom Tree Theater at

Astoria First Presbyterian

23-35 Broadway,

Astoria, NY 11106

Directions: Take the N/Q to Broadway.

About the Launch Pad Reading Series

The Launch Pad is a free reading series of new plays by Queens playwrights.  The mission objective of The Launch Pad is to serve as a testing ground for Queens based playwrights who need to hear their plays out loud.  Because Mission to (dit)Mars was co-founded by playwrights and directors, we understand implicitly how to answer those needs.  Through this program, the utmost care is taken to foster a safe and productive environment in order to propel the play forward.

 

This reading is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Mission to (dit)Mars is thrilled to continue the Launch Pad reading series with SAME SAME,  a new play by Jason Tseng.  This free play reading will be performed on Monday, August  21st at 7pm at The Broom Tree Theatre located at 23-35 Broadway in Astoria, NY.

SAME SAME is a queer Asian farce focusing on Kelvin and Victor’s relationship as their lives are turned upside down when Victor’s mother, June, makes an unannounced visit. Victor isn’t out yet, so they rent an apartment on AirBnB from Tristan in order to stage it as Victor’s apartment. Familial tensions flare as flames, new and old, threaten Kelvin and Victor’s relationship. Meanwhile, June grapples with her own secrets.

The cast includes Wai Ching Ho, Brian Kim, Ben Bartels, Daniel Patrick Smith and Siho Ellsmore with stage direction by Peter J. Kuo.

The evening is presented by Mission to (dit)Mars co-founders Kari Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer, and Laura Pestronk.

Commenting on the play, co-founder Meredith Packer says “It’s so exciting to be kicking off our season a bit early this year with Jason’s play. It’s fun, touching and a great way to bring us all back from the summer.”

Laura Pestronk adds “The amount of action-filled zany fun packed into this play has left me giddily enthralled since Jason first brought a few pages of it in for us to enjoy. Get ready to laugh, gasp, and not even begin to predict what might happen next.”

“Jason takes the structure of a traditional farce and puts a modern, diverse spin on it with hilarious and often touching results. ” said Kari Bentley-Quinn

This free reading is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

To attend, please make a reservation on our website:

http://missiontoditmars.com/reservations/

The Broom Tree Theater at
Astoria First Presbyterian
23-35 Broadway,
Astoria, NY 11106

Directions: Take the N/Q to Broadway.

About the Launch Pad Reading Series

The Launch Pad is a free reading series of new plays by Queens playwrights.  The mission objective of The Launch Pad is to serve as a testing ground for Queens based playwrights who need to hear their plays out loud.  Because Mission to (dit)Mars was co-founded by playwrights and directors, we understand implicitly how to answer those needs.  Through this program, the utmost care is taken to foster a safe and productive environment in order to propel the play forward.

This reading is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

EVENT POSTPONED: Meditation and Mindful Writing at Socrates Sculpture Park

Hi everyone,

Unfortunately, due to events beyond our control, the Mindful Writing workshop for tomorrow is being postponed until a later date. We’re so sorry to do this last minute, but we promise we are working on a new date and will send information as soon as possible.

Thanks for understanding. We hope to see you all again soon and will let you know when this has been rescheduled.

Cheers,
Mission to (dit)Mars
Kari Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer and Laura Pestronk

Meditation and Writing Workshop at Socrates Sculpture Park

Sunday July 23, 3-6pm
Socrates Sculpture Park

32-01 Vernon Blvd, Astoria, New York 11106

Meet at the main entrance (with the mural/banner above it, not the orange gates) and look for signs that say “Meditation and Writing.”

Co-organized by Mindful Astoria and Mission to (dit)Mars

$5-$10 suggested donation

Socrates Sculpture Park is an open-air sculpture museum on the Queens waterfront. With rotating exhibitions of evocative sculptures and a generous offering of cultural and wellness programs open to the public, Socrates is a space designed to support and inspire artists of all genres. In short: this is the perfect place to spend a day noticing, being, and creating.

The workshop will begin with a brief meditation to open up the senses, and will continue with a silent walking meditation around the park, followed by writing prompts and discussion to get the ideas flowing. Participants will then have time to explore the park and sculptures independently and create writing about or inspired by the landscape and/or specific works of art. The workshop will conclude with a sharing circle where writers can share their work from the day aloud.

Writers of all genres and experience levels welcome. (Visual artists and musicians are also welcome!)

Emily Herzlin is a writer and teacher with a particular love for memoir and poetry. She received her MFA in Nonfiction from Columbia in 2012. She began practicing meditation in 2003. In college she found her way to the Interdependence Project, where she now teaches meditation courses and retreats. Emily is a Certified MBSR Teacher. She trained in MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She has been teaching meditation since 2011 to groups and individuals. She is the founder and lead teacher of Mindful Astoria, a meditation community in her neighborhood, and she works as a Mind-Body Therapist at Memorial Sloan Kettering. She also completed a yearlong meditation teacher training program at the Interdependence Project.

Mission to (dit)Mars is thrilled to announce All Systems Go: Mission 5 as the culminating event for the LAUNCH PAD Reading Series this year.   This free play reading will be held at the Astoria Performing Arts Center at 30-34 Crescent Street in Astoria, Queens on Monday, June 19th at 7pm.

ALL SYSTEMS GO: MISSION 5 is an evening of excerpts from nine brand new plays by the Queens based writers group The Propulsion Lab.   The evening is presented by Mission to (dit)Mars co-founders Kari Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer, and Laura Pestronk.  It is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.   

“Our writers have adeptly responded to the social and political issues happening right now with a diverse and stirring array of plays that examine so many aspects of our world today: sexuality, loneliness, race, class, religion and, above all, the importance of human connection.” said co-founder Kari Bentley-Quinn

Participating playwrights for this event are Jonathan Alexandratos, Mrinalini Kamath, Lisa Huberman, Kristine M. Reyes, Scott Casper, Tyler Rivenbark, Jason Tseng, Nat Cassidy, and Ray Yamanouchi.  

Laura Pestronk adds “This year’s Propulsion Lab dives headfirst into the deep end, grappling with strong, scary subjects with grace and fearlessness and even hilarity. I’m proud of what is looking to be our no holds barred boldest All Systems Go yet!”

The cast includes Shaun Fauntleroy, Eston Fung, Lindsley Howard, Brian McCormick, Karsten Otto, Stu Richel, Samantha Rosentrater, David Shih, Brendan Sokler, Sara Thigpen and more.

The evening is directed by Meredith Packer, Laura Pestronk, and Christine Zagrobelny.  Stage Management by Sarah Lahue.

“I can’t believe we are at All Systems Go! year five. This is by far the most diverse and exciting grouping of excerpts we have been given to present and I am so excited to share it with our theater community here in Queens.” said co-founder Meredith Packer

All Systems Go! Mission 5 will include excerpts from the following eleven new plays:

PARENT/TEACHER by Jonathan Alexandratos

On Parent/Teacher Conference Night at small, Southern elementary school, a parent, a teacher, and a really fucked up voice on the intercom clash over who has suffered the greatest pain.

MARY by Nat Cassidy

“You’ve seen her before: the shy, quiet older woman making her way through life, doing her best to blend into the background. But Mary is about to learn there’s something special inside her; something that will have horrifying, deadly consequences for anyone who crosses her path.  MARY is a serialized audioplay told over twelve half-hour episodes.”

EARL: A SUICIDE by Tyler Rivenbark

In the Summer of 1985 Tyler was born. Less than a year later in the Spring of 1986 his grandfather killed himself. In the Spring of 2016 Tyler started writing Earl: A Suicide – a meta exploration of the thirty silent years in between.

EMPTY SECTS by Scott Casper

Our relationships degraded by the internet age, with connection masking isolation and isolation masking connection.  

AIRBNB by Jason Tseng

Kelvin and Victor’s lives are turned upside down when Victor’s mother, June, makes an unannounced visit. Victor isn’t out yet, so they rent an apartment on AirBnB from Tristan in order to stage it as Victor’s apartment. Familial tensions flare as flames, new and old, threaten Kelvin and Victor’s relationship. Meanwhile, June grapples with her own secrets.

UNPACKING JOB by Lisa Huberman

An artist embarks on a project to commemorate the anniversary grandmother’s death, and is forced to grapple with her own emotional inheritance.  A meditation on vintage clothes,  family guilt, and Old Testament angst.  

LIFE AFTER BIRTH by Kristine M. Reyes

Long days, sleepless nights, spit-up and poop and so many tears. This is Karyn and James’ new life as parents…will they survive it with their sense of selves intact?

THE AMERICAN TRADITION by Ray Yamanouchi

In Antebellum America, Eleanor—cross-dressing as a white planter—and her husband, Bill—pretending to be her loyal servant—attempt to escape to the free state of Pennsylvania.  In hot pursuit of them is Walsh, a drunk planter and member of the Not All Slavers movement.

LET THERE BE LOVE by Mrinalini Kamath

DeeDee, “The Goddess of Love,” an online dating and algorithm hater, runs a matchmaking agency with her son, Eric. A mash up of Sons and Lovers, the myth of Eros and Psyche and the dating app wars.

To attend the reading, please make a reservation on our website.

Astoria Performing Arts Center at

Good Shepherd United Methodist Church

30-34 Crescent St. (at 30th Rd)

Astoria, NY 11102

Directions: Take the N/Q to 30th Avenue. Walk down 30th Ave toward the Trade Fair Supermarket, continue past Mt. Sinai Hospital of Queens. Turn left on Crescent Street, then right on 30th Rd. The entrance is the second set of red doors on your left.

About the Launch Pad Reading Series

The Launch Pad is a free reading series of new plays by Queens playwrights.  The mission objective of The Launch Pad is to serve as a testing ground for Queens based playwrights who need to hear their plays out loud.  Because Mission to (dit)Mars was co-founded by playwrights and directors, we understand implicitly how to answer those needs.  Through this program, the utmost care is taken to foster a safe and productive environment in order to propel the play forward.

PRESS CONTACT: Don Nguyen, 718-839-0424, missiontoditmars@gmail.com

This reading is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

ALARM by Scott Casper

Mission to (dit)Mars is thrilled to continue the Launch Pad reading series with ALARM,  a new play by Scott Casper.  This free play reading will be performed on Monday, February 13th at 7pm at The Broom Tree Theatre located at 23-35 Broadway in Astoria, NY.

Scott Casper

ALARM is a Groundhog Day social commentary, where everyday obstacles to equality are examined as the inescapable cycles of violence they really are.

The cast includes Kevin Rose, Lesslie Dodge Crane, Al Nazemian, Arlyn Mick, and Chello Solaperto with direction by David Castro.

Co-founder Meredith Packer states “The Mission to Ditmars team has been very excited about this piece since it’s inception. It’s themes and the discussions it will bring about could not be more relevant to the times we find ourselves in.”

“With Alarm, Scott has created a piece that holds your attention and pulls you in from the opening scene.” explains co-founder Kari Bentley-Quinn. “The slow buildup of dread and absurdity is irresistible, and it is also a sharp examination of how humans interact in desperate situations.”

Co-founder Laura Pestronk adds “Alarm will get you trembling in fear on the edge of your seat and then knock you off your seat laughing in one seamless move. The world Scott creates and then slowly unravels is a nail-biting riddle of a mystery you won’t be able to look away from.”

To attend the reading, please make a reservation.

The Broom Tree Theater at Astoria First Presbyterian
23-35 Broadway,
Astoria, NY 11106

Directions: Take the N/Q to Broadway.

About the Launch Pad Reading Series

The Launch Pad is a free reading series of new plays by Queens playwrights.  The mission objective of The Launch Pad is to serve as a testing ground for Queens based playwrights who need to hear their plays out loud.  Because Mission to (dit)Mars was co-founded by playwrights and directors, we understand implicitly how to answer those needs.  Through this program, the utmost care is taken to foster a safe and productive environment in order to propel the play forward.

PRESS CONTACT: Don Nguyen, 718-839-0424, missiontoditmars@gmail.com

This reading is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Mission to (dit)Mars is thrilled to kick off this year’s Launch Pad reading series with THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD,  a new play by Kari Bentley-Quinn.  This free play reading will be performed on Monday, November 14th at 7pm at The Broom Tree Theatre located at 23-35 Broadway in Astoria, NY.

In THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD, Nina is a new mom with an infant son, battling crippling anxiety attacks that are keeping her from being the mother she wants to be. When she decides to seek therapy, she makes an unexpected friend in the pregnant daughter of her therapist, who may or may not be a pathological liar.  

The cast includes Kara Young, Jennifer Gordon Thomas, and Alisha Spielmann (All Systems Go 4, Blast Radius) with direction by Kristin McCarthy Parker (All Systems Go 2 & 4, Puffs, Hold onto your Butts)

In describing the selection of this play, co-founder Don Nguyen explains “This is the first time in the four years of our reading series that we’ve selected a play written by one of our co-founders.  We were struck with Kari’s deep exploration into the fragile bond between mother and daughter, therapist and patient, as well as two strangers.  Kari’s dedication to frequently examining the decay and dissolution of the bond between parent and child is admirable and comes through so clearly in this play.”

“Kari dares ask a question we may ponder but never say aloud: ‘What happens if I don’t love my child?’ The answer is explored with both fortitude and grace.” explains co-founder Laura Pestronk.  “The compassion woven through this play for parent, child, and even bystander, is a testament to Kari’s strong command of the language of our innermost demons and a deep awareness of what it means to be human, flaws and all.”

“Kari’s ability to tap into the darkest corners of our hearts and minds and bring them into the light on stage is nothing short of inspired” adds co-founder Meredith Packer.  “She allows for understanding and catharsis while never trying to give a cookie-cutter solution. Her work allows conversation and thought for both actors and audiences alike.”

To attend the reading, please make a reservation.

The Broom Tree Theater at

Astoria First Presbyterian

23-35 Broadway,

Astoria, NY 11106

Directions: Take the N/Q to Broadway.

About the Launch Pad Reading Series

The Launch Pad is a free reading series of new plays by Queens playwrights.  The mission objective of The Launch Pad is to serve as a testing ground for Queens based playwrights who need to hear their plays out loud.  Because Mission to (dit)Mars was co-founded by playwrights and directors, we understand implicitly how to answer those needs.  Through this program, the utmost care is taken to foster a safe and productive environment in order to propel the play forward.

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This reading is made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

new-labbies

Mission to (dit)Mars is excited to announce the selection of three new members to the 2016-2018 Propulsion Lab, a Queens based writers group serving emerging playwrights from the borough.  In addition to the new lab members, three returning members have been named Writers in Residence and two have been named Orbiting Artists.  

The three new Propulsion Lab members are Nat Cassidy (Astoria), Jason Tseng (Long Island City) and Ray Yamanouchi (Astoria).   For the Propulsion Lab, each playwright will focus on writing a new full-length play over the course of the year.  The new members were selected by Mission to (dit)Mars co-founders Kari Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer and Laura Pestronk.  The writers group meets bi-monthly in Queens.     

In addition to the new lab members, Mission to (dit)Mars has named Lisa Huberman (Woodside), Kristine M. Reyes (Astoria) and Tyler Rivenbark (Sunnyside) as our Writers in Residence and Mac Rogers (Astoria) and Tori Keenan-Zelt are our newly created Orbiting Artists.  Returning Propulsion Lab members are Jonathan Alexandratos (Astoria), Scott Casper (Astoria), Mrinalini Kamath (Astoria), and Amy Witting (Sunnyside).

On what excites her about the new members, Kari Bentley-Quinn explains “Each has a distinct voice and point of view, not to mention a ton of talent, and all three are a wonderful addition to our already exciting and diverse group of talented playwrights.”  

Laura Pestronk adds “The talent pouring forth from the new labbers blew us all away, and we’re so happy to get to work with such diverse and lively new voices!”

Commenting on the returning lab members, Meredith Packer states “It’s such a privilege to meet with this group of writers each year. I am so excited to get in the room with our familiar and fresh faces and see what worlds we will explore together this year.”

The Propulsion Lab was created to meet the needs of like-minded theater artists who wanted to have a way of developing new work locally in Queens on an on-going basis.  In addition to bi-monthly meetings, the lab will include industry meet and greets with Artistic Directors and Literary Managers, three Launch Pad readings of full length plays, and All Systems Go! 5, an evening of excerpts from the new Propulsion Lab plays.

Writers in Residence positions are a way to address the growing needs of certain lab members who have been with us for some time by offering additional developmental support custom tailored to them. In exchange, our writers in residence act as artistic associates on Mission to (dit)Mars’ behalf and help our organization in certain capacities, such as reading script submissions.

Orbiting Artists are informal positions that allow current lab members whose availability has changed due to unforeseen reasons the chance to continue participating in the Propulsion Lab on a limited basis.

 

BIOS OF THE NEW PROPULSION LAB MEMBERS

Nat Cassidy (Astoria)

Nat Cassidy is an award-winning writer, actor, director, and musician.  He’s appeared in television shows such as “The Following” (Fox), “The Affair” (Showtime), “Red Oaks” (Amazon) “High Maintenance” (HBO), as well as numerous productions and workshops both Off- and Off-Off-Broadway. Nat’s plays have been nominated for a combined total of 17 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including 3 times for Outstanding Full-Length Script (which he won in 2009, and in 2011 for Outstanding Solo Performance). His work has been seen throughout the country and is published by Samuel French, Smith & Kraus, NYTE, Applause Books, and Indie Theatre Now (where he is a bestselling playwright). In 2012 Nat was commissioned by The Kennedy Center to write the libretto for a world-premiere opera; and in 2014 his play Any Day Now was chosen to be part of Primary Stages’ ESPADrills (The Duke Theatre, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel). He’s an inductee in the Indie Theatre Hall of Fame, an NYTheatre Person of the Year, and was a finalist for the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award. www.natcassidy.com

Ray Yamanouchi (Astoria)

Ray Yamanouchi is a Hunter College graduate with a degree in film and theatre. He has written numerous short plays and four full-length plays (Mercy Killing Kids, It’s Our Kitchen, Tha Chink-Mart, and Impact) which have been workshopped all across NYC. Tha Chink-Mart was a semi-finalist for the 2016/17 New Dramatists Princess Grace Award. He is a member of Working Title Theatre Co. Playwrights Collective (wttheatre.com) and currently works at the Lucille Lortel Theatre when he isn’t at the local bar.

Jason Tseng (Long Island City) makes plays, comics, illustrations, and games — mostly about queer people and people of color. Most recently, his play Rizing received its world-premier in New York City with Flux Theatre Ensemble. His work has been featured in GeeksOut’s LGBT comics anthology Power, Sub Rosa magazine, and Nonprofit Quarterly. He also produces the podcasts Play x Play –featuring the best plays you’ve never heard of– and Queer and Present Danger, a queer nerd pop culture podcast. Find more at JasonTseng.com.

To view bios on all our Propulsion Lab members, please visit: http://missiontoditmars.com/2014/08/25/the-2014-2015-propulsion-lab/

Made possible (in part) by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

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Making notes

Sit, Breathe, Write: Mindfulness and Writing Workshop

Taught by Emily Herzlin, organized by Mission to (dit)Mars

In this 2 hour workshop, we will learn basic mindfulness meditation practices to calm the mind, open up the senses, and meet our creative blocks with kindness. There will be periods of guided meditation and writing prompts, as well as time at the end of the workshop to share writing.

Writers of all genres and experience levels welcome. Composers, dancers, performers, and visual artists are also welcome to attend. No previous experience with mindfulness or meditation necessary.

Sunday August 14th

4:30pm-6:30pm

$5 class fee, cash at the door. Please bring something to write with and on. Visual artists, feel free to bring your own supplies.

Broom Tree Theatre (at Astoria First Presbyterian Church)*

23-35 Broadway

Astoria, NY 11106

*note that the church building looks like an apartment building! There is a white awning out front with the sign for the church

Reservations recommended

About the teacher:

Emily Herzlin is a writer and teacher with a particular love for memoir, playwriting, and poetry. She received her MFA in Nonfiction from Columbia in 2012. She began practicing meditation in 2003. In college she found her way to the Interdependence Project, where she now teaches meditation courses and retreats. Emily trained in MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She has been teaching meditation since 2011 to groups and individuals. She is the founder and lead teacher of Mindful Astoria, a meditation community in Astoria, Queens. She is thrilled to have another opportunity to practice and create with Mission to (dit)Mars.

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CALLING ALL PLAYWRIGHTS!

Apply to the 2016-2018 Propulsion Lab!

The Application process is now open closed.   

Applications are now open for the 2016-2018 Propulsion Lab. The Propulsion Lab is a bi-monthly (every other Monday) writers group for Queens-based playwrights.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

  • Please submit one full length play (60 pages or more) in PDF format. Please choose the play you think represents you best as a writer. It doesn’t matter if it has been produced or if it is a first draft.
  • Please submit a brief cover letter using our online form.  You will be asked to supply the following information: Name, Neighborhood/Address, Phone/Email/Website/Twitter (if applicable), Productions/Awards you would like us to know about, how you heard about the lab, and also what you hope to gain from being a part of the Lab. This is not an artist statement so PLEASE don’t be formal, we just want to get to know you!
  • You must currently reside in the borough of Queens (any neighborhood), and have been a resident for at least 6 months. In order to be part of the lab, you must live in Queens during the course of the lab. Please make sure you have no immediate plans to relocate if you apply!
  • Willing and able to attend bi-monthly meetings.  Labs are held every other Monday usually from late August to mid-June.  Regular attendance is very important to the continuity of the work and to support your fellow writers.
  • Must commit to working on one full length play during the course of the lab.

The deadline to apply is July 1st!

Application is now closed

Participants will be notified at the end of August with labs beginning in September.