The Propulsion Lab

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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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. 

Mission to (dit)Mars is thrilled to announce All Systems Go: Mission 4 as the final 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 20th at 7pm.  To attend the reading, please make a reservation.

Click here to view the program

Click here to view photos from the event

Photo Jun 20, 9 45 53 PM

ALL SYSTEMS GO: MISSION 4 is an evening of excerpts from eleven brand new plays by the Queens based writers group The Propulsion Lab.  Participating playwrights for this event are Kari Bentley-Quinn, Amy Witting, Mac Rogers, Jonathan Alexandratos, Mrinalini Kamath, Elizabeth Seldin, Lisa Huberman, Kristine M. Reyes, Scott Casper, Tori Keenan-Zelt and Tyler Rivenbark.  The evening is presented by Mission to (dit)Mars co-founders Kari Bentley-Quinn, Don Nguyen, Meredith Packer, and Laura Pestronk.  

The cast includes Jim Nugent, Susan Ferrara, David Shih, Daniel Isaac, Esther Chen, Brian McCormick, Alisha Spielmann, Alex Wilson, Mariana Newhard, Leemore Malka, Matthew Nichols, Elizabeth Seldin, Julia McLaughlin, Nat Cassidy, and James Edward Becton.

The evening is directed by Meredith Packer, Laura Pestronk, Kristin McCarthy Parker, and Dev Bondarin.  Stage Management by Jodi Witherell.

In talking about this year’s lineup, Meredith Packer says “With eleven pieces, this is our biggest undertaking yet! I am so proud to be a part of the creation process and the presentation of our writers work to the Queens community. As our group grows so does our collective voice and that voice is strong and full of heart. 

“It’s especially exciting this year to watch many of our returning playwrights grow and develop such a varied body of work. The Queens theater community has become a force to be reckoned with!” adds co-founder Laura Pestronk.

Going into its fourth season of presenting new works in Queens, the small company takes a moment to reflect on the growth and changes over the past several years.  “I am beyond proud of our fourth season – not only are our playwrights diverse and talented – but their plays have really shown huge range and depth this year.” reflects Kari Bentley-Quinn.  “A lot of risks have been taken, and the payoff has been these enormously inspiring plays that will no doubt see a huge life after the Lab.”

On the returning playwrights, co-founder Don Nguyen adds “Carving out a space in Queens to allow our playwrights’ voices to evolve and witnessing first hand the challenging new works that have come out of the lab and seeing it shared not only across the country but in fact all over the world has been an extreme source of pride for Mission to (dit)Mars.”

All Systems Go! Mission 4 will include excerpts from the following eleven new plays: 

Click here to view the program

Click here to view photos from the event

Photo Jun 20, 9 45 53 PM

WE SEE WHAT HAPPEN by Jonathan Alexandratos
Jonathan wants to perform his solo play about his grandmother’s immigration to the U.S. from Greece in 1951.  WE SEE WHAT HAPPEN is what happens when Jonathan’s grandmother and his old superhero action figures decide they’d better tell that story themselves.

JESUS PLAYS BASKETBALL ON A HOT NIGHT IN IRAQ by Tyler Rivenbark
Mom and Dad’s son committed suicide. Mom and Dad may or may not go to Dollywood.

ALARM by Scott Casper
A Groundhog Day social commentary, where everyday obstacles to equality are examined as the inescapable cycles of violence they really are.

SHADOWS by Elizabeth Seldin.
An exploration of the Peter Pan story as told by his Shadow and the untold story of his grief that makes the magic of Neverland possible.

THE NEW ISRAEL PLAY by Lisa Huberman
When Yael took a position at a small Midwestern Jewish Community after her Israeli army service, she had no idea what to expect.  As she struggles to fit into a very different version of Judaism than she is accustomed to, Yael forms an emotional bond with Tommy, the Native American IT guy at the JCC, who is wrestling with identity issues of his own.  

BORN & RAISED by Kristine M. Reyes
Paul was adopted as a baby boy by a loving, caring, well-meaning white couple who raised him to be connected to his Chinese roots. Turns out, they were the wrong roots.

AIR (working title) by Amy Witting
Jo is stuck inside her one bedroom Sunnyside apartment with Pneumonia.  Expecting a grocery delivery she opens the door only to find surprise guests who refuse to leave.

[nbd] by Tori Keenan-Zelt
In conversation with MUCH ADO, [nbd] asks whether well-matched love can survive a world ruled by gender lines, high school hockey, and Internet selves.

LUCENT by Mac Rogers
Joan and Griffin’s relationship is treading water: no kids, bored with sex, bored with their jobs, borderline roommates. Until the day Joan steals a terrifying new technology from her employer that turns their slacker lives into a battleground of the unseen.

STUFF by Mrinalini Kamath
Elena’s late mother was left a lot of money by a man who died alone, and is apparently no relation.  Julius cleans out the apartments of dead people by day while trying to connect with live people at night.  Inspired by a NY Times article, STUFF looks at what it is we really want.

THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD by Kari Bentley-Quinn
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.  

To attend the reading, please make a reservation.

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.

 

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.

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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.

Here are some photos from All Systems Go: Mission 3

Artwork for All Systems Go: Mission 3

All Systems Go: Mission 3 – Monday, June 22nd!!

Cast of All Systems Go: Mission 3
Cast of All Systems Go: Mission 3

Click here to view photos from our event!

Mission To (dit)Mars is pleased to present our final Launch Pad event of the season!

ALL SYSTEMS GO: MISSION 3, is an evening of excerpts from nine brand new plays by the Queens based writers group The Propulsion Lab.  Participating Queens based playwrights for this event are Amy Witting, Mac Rogers, Tori Keenan-Zelt, Jonathan Alexandratos, Mrinalini Kamath, Elizabeth Seldin, Lisa Huberman, Kristine M. Reyes, and Tyler Rivenbark.

 

In talking about this year’s lineup, Mission to (dit)Mars co-founder Meredith Packer says “I am proud that with our third All Systems Go!, Mission to Ditmars continues to bring the highest level of theater development to the Queens community.”

Co-founder Kari Bentley-Quinn adds “This is one of the strongest sets of plays we have seen in the Lab so far, with work that is fresh and, at times, truly groundbreaking.”

“We’re so excited to present all of the plays together in one night as our most diverse and bounteous All Systems Go! ever!” adds co-founder Laura Pestronk.

On the rise of new work in Queens, co-founder Don Nguyen explains “The breadth and scope of stories being told in the lab is truly remarkable.  Equally remarkable are the sheer number of writers, directors and actors who have all come together to work on these plays, which is a great indicator that Queens is becoming a hotbed for new work.”

The cast includes Hayley Treider, Dina Comolli, Jessica Cannizarro, Ava Eisenson, Elizabeth Seldin, Tara Pacheco, Gwen Sisco, Sara Thigpen, Wynne Anders, Aaron Kapner, David Shih, Tom McCormick, Anthony Fazio, and Sean Williams.

The evening is directed by Dev Bondarin, Jordana Williams, Aimee Todoroff, Christine Zagrobelny and Laura Pestronk.

The evening will include excerpts from the following nine new plays:

BRIGHT ANGEL QUADRANGLE by Mac Rogers: A horror story about love at first sight. A contentedly married woman finds her life turned upside-down one evening when she falls instantly in love with her friend’s new boyfriend.

WHAT HAUNTS YOU by Elizabeth Seldin: Theater ghosts in a theater. Having feelings. Feeling things.

THE SUCK by Tyler Rivenbark: Stephen Ajax is a Kid. Stephen Ajax is a Son. Stephen Ajax is a Boyfriend. Stephen Ajax is a New Father. Stephen Ajax is a Marine. Stephen Ajax is a Fragment.

DUCK by Jonathan Alexandratos: Teenage Duck Carl Duckett and his father are the only two Ducks living in a town populated entirely by Sheep.  This is what happens when Carl tries to survive that.

ELEVEN SHADES OF BLUE by Amy E. Witting: Four women from different times touch the sky, swim with the fish, and experience the details of a timeless Coney Island.

THE NEW DEAL by Mrinalini Kamath:  In the United States in the not-too-distant future, a violent act causes a state government to re-think capital punishment with a profit-bearing alternative.

EGGS ON ICE by Kristine M. Reyes: At Eggs On Ice, freezing your eggs has never been more convenient, affordable — or fabulous! Hit the snooze button on your biological clock while you focus on your career, and let us take care of the rest. Your future’s safe with us, ladies — we’ll make sure of that.

AIR SPACE by Tori Keenan-Zelt: When Mack and Babs lost their house, they moved secretly into the wall… from which they watch as Glory and Kyle try to flip it. A surreal comedy about inventing home, managing family, and what we hold onto when nothing we do is enough.

PERSEPHONE by Lisa Huberman: A contemporary take on the Persephone myth set on an organic farm in California, in which a teenage girl attempts to assert her own identity separate from her loving but controlling Earth goddess of a mother.

This free play reading will be held at the Astoria Performing Arts Center at 30-44 Crescent Street in Astoria, Queens on Monday, June 22nd at 7pm.

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

Monday, June 22nd 7 pm

Astoria Performing Arts Center
Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
30-44 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
Cast and directors to be announced shortly.

Please RSVP! This is usually our best attended event of the season and we would not want you to miss it.

There will be a reception to follow at a location to be determined. Please join us for a drink or two after the show!

We’re so excited to share this great work with all of you, and celebrate the end of our season.

Also – we are now on Instagram! Please follow us: @missiontoditmars. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook if you weren’t already.

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.

The Propulsion Lab

Mission to (dit)Mars, a theatre arts collective serving Queens artists, is excited to announce the selection of nine new members to The Propulsion Lab, a Queens’ writers group serving emerging playwrights from the borough.

The nine new members are Jonathan Alexandratos (Astoria), Scott Casper (Astoria), John Caswell (Astoria), Mrinalini Kamath (Astoria), Elizabeth Seldin (Astoria), Mac Rogers (Astoria), Amy Witting (Sunnyside), and Tori Keenan-Zelt (Forest Hills) with returning members Lisa Huberman (Woodside), Kristine M. Reyes (Astoria) and Tyler Rivenbark (Sunnyside).  Rounding out the group are inaugural members August Schulenburg (Forest Hills) and Mariah MacCarthy (Astoria), who will serve as “Writers in Residence.”

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-weekly at the Secret Theatre in Queens.

On what excites her about the new members, Kari Bentley-Quinn explains “they are as diverse as they are accomplished…in style, ethnicity, and approach – much like the residents of our beloved borough.”  Laura Pestronk adds “The new members excite me because of their amazingly different voices. Such a diverse group of stories are going to be told this season!”

Commenting on the surprisingly rapid growth of the lab, Meredith Packer suggests “The amount of submissions we had this year and the amount of talent we were given the opportunity to read meant that after three years this lab is what we have been preaching all along- that Queens has a vast amount of talented artists that are looking for a community in their own back yard. And that we are doing our job at Mission to (dit)Mars to bring them together.”  Don Nguyen adds “the meteoric rise in members of the Propulsion Lab is a direct reflection of the immense growth of artists living and working in the borough and, in general, the increasing desire of making Queens a profound place to make theatre. We’re excited to help foster both.”

On its ongoing relationship with The Secret Theatre, Don Nguyen adds “Richard Mazda (Artistic Director) has been extremely supportive of new work in Queens and particularly of our group, where his generosity has been overwhelming on all fronts.  Our relationship with has proven to be a rich one and we look forward to continuing and deepening our alliance with Richard and The Secret Theatre 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-weekly meetings, the year will include industry meet and greets with Artistic Directors and Literary Managers, three Launch Pad readings of full length plays, and All Systems Go!, an evening of excerpts from the new Propulsion Lab plays.

 

Meet our current Propulsion Lab writers

Nat Cassidy Astoria

Nat Cassidy (Astoria) Photo by Alex Tursh, Prospect Photography
Nat Cassidy (Astoria) Photo by Alex Tursh, Prospect Photography

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 (Astoria)
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

Jason Tseng (Long Island City)
Jason Tseng (Long Island City)

Jason 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.

 


Jonathan Alexandratos Astoria

Jonathan Alexandratos
Jonathan Alexandratos

This is what Jonathan Alexandratos does when he’s a playwright: (1) writes DUCK, a full-length animal allegory about abuse, as a 2014-2015 member of Mission to (dit)Mars.  (2) Submits DUCK to Nashville Repertory Theatre’s Ingram New Works Lab, and becomes an Ingram New Works Playwright for the 2015-2016 season.  (3) Writes WE SEE WHAT HAPPEN, a full-length immersive theatre piece about his grandmother’s immigration to the U.S. in 1951, as performed by superhero action figures.  He writes this for Nashville Repertory Theatre, who will perform the piece as a staged reading in May 2016.  This play is also workshopped at Mission to (dit)Mars’ Propulsion Lab.  (4) Attends a production of DUCK in Strasbourg, France, put on by PEACE Productions in June 2016.  This is what Jonathan Alexandratos does when he’s not doing all of that: (1) writes academic essays on action figures for the book he’s editing, tentatively titled POINTS OF ARTICULATION: ESSAYS IN ACTION FIGURE STUDIES.  (2) collects action figures.  (3) co-manages Denver Comic Con’s literary conference.  (4) awaits your email at jsalexan@gmail.com.

 

Scott Casper Astoria

Scott Casper
Scott Casper

Scott Casper is an actor, director and playwright living in Astoria, NY.  As a writer, his short plays have been produced as part of the Asolo Conservatory’s Late Night Series, Firecracker Productions’ Red Light Nights, and Left Hip Productions’ From the Hip Festival.  Scott is also the Artistic Director of taxdeductible theatre, and he has had several plays produced as part of The Dare Project (world-premiere ten-minute plays, written on a dare). The Dare Project also provided the starting point for his full-length play #hero, which was authored in collaboration by taxdeductible theatre.  #hero received its world premiere in 2013.

  

Mrinalini Kamath Astoria

Mrinalini Kamath

Mrinalini Kamath’s plays have been performed around the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Australia and India. She has been a semi-finalist for both the O’Neill and Seven Devils Playwrights Conferences, a finalist for the Actors Theater of Louisville Humana Festival and was Fluid Motion Theatre and Film’s inaugural Start the Story commission recipient. She won first place in the first  East West Players (Los Angeles, CA) Got Laughs? Asian-American Comedy Play Contest and a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.  Several of her short plays appear in various Smith and Kraus anthologies.  She is an alumna of Youngblood, the emerging  playwrights’ collective at Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City and a current member of the Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab.

 

Writers in Residence

Lisa Huberman Astoria

Website: http://lisahuberman.blogspot.com
Lisa Huberman

Lisa Huberman is a New York-based playwright and a third-generation vegetarian from Youngstown, Ohio. She received her BA in Theatre Performance at Bradley University and an MFA in Playwriting from Rutgers, where she developed the full-length play, Egyptology. Her full-length play, Sex and Charitable Giving, was developed in the New Light Theatre Project Darkroom Series and the Mission to (dit)Mars Propulsion Lab.  The play was then produced in the inaugural F*ckfest at the Brick Theatre and recorded as part of the HeRD Podcast at The Tank. She is the author of several one-act plays, including Under the Rainbow(Regional Winner, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival), Health Nuts(Semi-finalist, Little Fish Theatre Pick of the Vine Competition), Sub-prime (Winner, KNOW Theatre Playwrights and Artists Festival) and High and Uptight (Mile Square Theatre 7th Inning Stretch Festival). Her work has also been featured in multiple installments of CAPS Lock Theatre’s Pussyfest and the New Jersey One-Minute Play Festival. In addition to her playwriting, Lisa has recently begun to to explore the world of solo performing, and has performed at The Astoria Bookshop Storytelling Show, Monologues and Madness, QED, The Dump at the Creek and the Cave, and Jerusalem’s Comedy Basement.   Lisa is a member of the Mission to (dit)Mars Propulsion Lab, The Drawing Board, and the Passage Play Lab.

Lisa also wrote and directed the documentary short, “Transforming Memory” at Jerusalem’s Ma’aleh Film School. You can watch the film here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWutZaLUsh

Kristine M. Reyes Astoria

Kristine M. Reyes
Kristine M. Reyes – Taken under the Hell Gate Bridge in Astoria Park

Kristine M. Reyes is a playwright raised and based in New York City. Her plays have been performed in NYC, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and include Lily in Love (Mission to (dit)Mars Launch Pad Reading Series; Queens Theatre’s New American Voices Reading Series); Queen for a Day (Diverse City Theater Company’s First Draft Fellowship) and Stage/Mother. She was a 2014-15 Fellow at The Dramatists Guild, where she is also a proud member. She has been published on Indie Theater Now and has contributed as a guest blogger on Howlround. www.kristinemreyes.com

 

Tyler Rivenbark Sunnyside

Tyler Rivenbark
Tyler Rivenbark – taken at Martha’s Bakery in Astoria

Born and raised in North Carolina, Tyler Rivenbark received his MFA in Playwriting from the MFA program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College, CUNY in 2010. Currently, he is an Adjunct Lecturer in the English Department of Queens College. Select plays include hands (The Bushwick Starr, Brooklyn), The Wild Papers (Latimer House, Flushing), This Woman Must Be My Wife (Gantry Plaza, Long Island City), Monosyllabic (Mellow Pages, Brooklyn), Silence (Dixon Place, NYC; Artists’ Bloc, Washington, DC), and Inside the Rain (Dixon Place, NYC). He co-curated the site specific theatrical experiment Unstaged as part of the Rough Draft Festival (LaGuardia Performing Arts Center). He has received a Poetry Society of America commission to adapt Rita Dove’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of poems, Thomas and Beulah. He was a writer-in-residence at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, a residency he now oversees. He is the co-founder of The Hammer & Pick Collective and the Queens Writers’ Collective. He is a member of the Mission to (dit)Mars Propulsion Lab and the Dramatists Guild.

Orbiting Artists

Amy Witting Sunnyside

Amy E. Witting

Amy E. Witting finally admits she is from New Jersey although now resides in Sunnyside, New York.  Beyond owning three crockpots she is a semi-retired actor, producer, teaching artist, and playwright. Some of her plays include The House on Top of the Hill (Atlantic Theater Commission, Abingdon Theatre New Play Reading Series, Semi-finalist O’Neill National Playwrights Conference), There’s Never A Gavin: The True Story of a Disco Roller Skater (Atlantic Theater Amplified Reading Series, nominated 2016 Weissberger Award, Finalist The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep 2016 ), The Midnight Ride of Sean & Lucy (Roundabout Underground Reading Series, Finalist SOURCE Festival), A BAD NIGHT (2015 Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist Fellowship), Day 392 (Kennedy Center ACTF/NNPN MFA Playwrights Workshop, Honorable Mention Kilroy’s List), Victor (Cabrini Rep, winner 2013 Thespis Festival), 36 Hours (Frigid Festival), FALLING (NY International Fringe Festival), G.I. Joe Jared (Edinburg Festival Fringe and 59E59) and Create Me Pegasus (finalist, The Sam French Festival). She was a 2015 finalist for the Leah Ryan FEWW award and nominated for the 2014-2015 Susan Smith Blackburn prize. She received an inaugural 2015 LAUNCH Commission from Atlantic Theater Company.  Her plays have been developed at Tofte Lake Center, The Lark Play Development Center, The Kennedy Center, NNPN and Space on Ryder Farm.  She received her MFA at Hunter College and is a member of PIPELINE PlayLab, Mission To (Dit)mars Propulsion Lab, and The Dramatists Guild.

Tori Keenan-Zelt Forest Hills

Tori Keenan-Zelt

Originally and proudly from Pittsburgh, Tori writes curiosity-chasing plays that sniff out in-between spaces in big theatrical worlds. Many of them decide to be comedies. Her current/recent work includes [nbd]SephAir SpaceThe Egypt Play, or The Misses Blake on a Holiday JihadTruth Dare… (Best Ensemble, Pittsburgh Fringe), Episode #121: Catfight! (Yale Cabaret), and others. She has developed/presented work around the country, including at The LarkThe O’Neill,Yale CabaretNashville RepEnsemble Studio Theatre (upcoming), Williamstown Theatre Festival, New Mexico State University/High DesertFresh Ground Pepper,#serials@thefleaPittsburgh FringeThe Drama Book Shop, Cold Basement, and beside unsuspecting Chipotle patrons.

Recently, she has been an Ingram New Works Lab Playwright, a Playwrights’ Center Core Apprentice, a Lark Dramaturgy Fellow, and a writer for Colonial Williamsburg’s PBS education series. She has been named an Emmy Nominee, Jerome Finalist, Princess Grace Finalist, Playwrights of New York Nominee, Kilroys List Nominee, and some other things. Right now, she is a member of Bastard Playground @ The Drama League, Mission to (dit)Mars Propulsion Lab, the 2016 Fresh Ground Pepper PlayGround PlayGroup, & the Dramatists Guild. Some of her short plays are published by Next Stage Press. AB, Harvard. MFA, NYU Tisch Asia (Singapore).

 

Mac Rogers Astoria

Mac Rogers
Mac Rogers

MAC ROGERS’ plays include SOVEREIGN (New York Times and Backstage Critic’s Pick), BLAST RADIUS (New York Times Critic’s Pick), ADVANCE MAN (winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Premiere Production), FRANKENSTEIN UPSTAIRS (NYIT nominee, Best Premier Production), LIGATURE MARKS (CityBeat Critic’s Pick), VIRAL (winner, Outstanding Play at FringeNYC 2009), UNIVERSAL ROBOTS (nominated for four New York Innovative Theatre awards), and HAIL SATAN (Outstanding Playwriting Winner at FringeNYC 2007. Mac’s plays have earned acclaim from The New York Times, Backstage, The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, New York Post, Flavorpill, io9.com, Tor.com, NYTheatre.com, and many others.  Also an audio dramatist, Rogers wrote the sci-fi podcast thriller The Message, which has been dowloaded over 4 million times worldwide.

Past Writers in Residence

Mariah MacCarthy Astoria

Mariah MacCarthy
Mariah MacCarthy

Mariah’s work has been developed and presented at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Rattlestick, Primary Stages, Culture Project, New Dramatists, La MaMa, HERE, Dixon Place, The Brick, Atlantic Stage 2, Fringe NYC, various New York apartments, and Paris. Indie Theater Hall of Fame (“Person of the Year” 2012), PoNY nominee. Plays include Baby Mama: One Woman’s Quest to Give Her Child to Gay People (winner of the Dr. Robert J. Thierauf Producer’s Pick Award; viewed over 41,000 times on YouTube), Honors Students (Kilroys List Honorable Mention; EST/Youngblood Unfiltered), Safeword (Dixon Place), Magic Trick (FringeNYC and Theatre Row; winner of the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award and Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences), Mrs. Mayfield’s Fifth-Grade Class of ’93 20-Year Reunion (“sweet and boisterous…a lot of fun” –The New York Times), The Foreplay Play (two NYIT Award nominations), Ampersand: A Romeo & Juliet Story (twenty Looking Glass Forum Awards, FringeNYC “Outstanding Performance”), and The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret (“f*cking brilliant” -Kate Bornstein; performed in Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, and New York). Mariah is a Friend of Flux, a writer-in-residence of The Propulsion Lab, a member of Youngblood and Lather, Rinse, Repeat, Executive Artistic Director of Caps Lock Theatre, and Associate Artistic Director-at-Large of The Brick.

August Schulenburg Forest Hills

August Schulenburg
August Schulenburg

August’s plays include Carrin Beginning, Kidding JaneRue,Riding the Bull, Good Hope,Other BodiesHoney FistDark Matter, Jacob’s House, DEINDE, Dream Walker, Denny and Lila, Dark Matter, Jane the Plain and The Lesser Seductions of History. His plays have been produced and developed at the Lark Play Development Center, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Chelsea Playhouse, Theater for the New City, Portland Stage Company, Dayton Playhouse, Colonial Players, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Contemporary Stage Company, Abingdon Theater Company, Gideon Productions, New Amerikan Theatre, Penobscot Theatre, Impetuous Theater Group, Decades Out, Soundtrack Series, Reverie Productions, Wolf 359, Blue Box Productions, Piper McKenzie, Boomerang Theatre Company, Adaptive Arts, Hall High School, Nosedive Productions,  MTWorks, Purple Repertory, Valley Repertory Company, The Brick Theater, CAPS LOCK Theatre, Chameleon Theatre Circle, Retro Productions, Elephant Run District, TheatreLAB and Flux Theatre Ensemble, where he is the Artistic Director. He is a member of the Propulsion Lab for Mission to (dit)Mars. His work has also been published in the New York Theater ReviewStage and Screen, Indie Theater Now, Midway Journal, NoPassport Press and in two issues of Carrier Pigeon. He also writes for film and television with MozzleStead Productions.

New Propulsion lab members

Mission to (dit)Mars, a theatre arts collective serving Queens artists, is excited to announce the selection of four new members to The Propulsion Lab, Queens’ newest writers group serving emerging playwrights from the borough. 

 The four new members are Lisa Huberman (Woodside), David Lawson (Astoria), Kristine M. Reyes (Astoria) and Tyler Rivenbark (Sunnyside).  Along with current members of 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-weekly in Queens and is facilitated by Kari Bentley-Quinn and Don Nguyen.

On what excites her about the four new members, Meredith Packer explains “I was so excited by not just the high level of work they submitted to us, but how incredibly different each of the writers are in their approach, styles and voice.  I thought that combination of diversity and work would be great to get to the table.”  Kari Bentley-Quinn adds “I think the most exciting thing for us was finding four voices that are all very different from each other.”

 “The plays that caught my attention were the ones that were both well-written and moving,” said Laura Pestronk, explaining how the members were selected.  “I was looking for a firm grip on style that caused me to feel something and hopefully either shake me inside or make me laugh out loud or both.”

 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.  “The first year we did this Lab, we had such an extraordinary response to it. The writers were really happy, and our end of the year presentation ALL SYSTEMS GO! was a sold out house” said Kari Bentley-Quinn.

 The four new playwrights will be joining current members of the Propulsion Lab: Kari Bentley-Quinn (Astoria/Woodside), Courtney Lauria (Astoria), Mariah MacCarthy (Astoria), Don Nguyen (Long Island City), and August Schulenburg (Astoria).

For more information and bios of each of the Propulsion Lab members past and present, please visit this link.

BIOS OF THE NEW PROPULSION LAB MEMBERS

Lisa Huberman (Woodside)

Lisa’s work includes Egyptology (developed under the mentorship of Lee Blessing and a nominee for a National New Play Network award), Under the Rainbow (Regional Winner in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Finalist for the John Cauble Short Play Award), Health Nuts (Semi-Finalist for the Little Fish Theatre Pick of the Vine Competition, produced by the Panic Room Playwrights), Life Play (Secret Theatre’s Act One: One Act Festival), Sub-Prime (KNOW Theatre Playwrights and Artists Festival), High and Uptight (Mile Square Theatre’s 7th Inning Stretch Festival) and Heart/Succor (La Petite Morgue’s inaugural Fresh Blood Series).  She has participated in the One Minute Play Festival, Pussyfest, and Monologues and Madness.  Under the Rainbow, High and Uptight, and Egyptology are available for purchase and download at The Monologues Database.  A member of The Dramatists Guild, Drawing Board, The Panic Room Playwrights, Lisa is also an Artistic Associate for La Petite Morgue.  She has attended playwriting workshops at Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive and Chicago Dramatists.  She received her BA in Theatre Performance from Bradley University and her MFA in Playwriting from Rutgers University, where she currently teaches freshman composition.  Lisa was raised by vegetarians in Ohio and also maintains the food blog, Sometimes A Vegan.  Website:  http://lisahuberman.blogspot.com

David Lawson (Astoria)

Lawson’s plays have been produced at/by The Brick Theater, Dixon Place, IRT Theatre, the Secret Theatre, the Downtown Urban Theater Festival (at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center), The FRIGID New York Festival (at UNDER St. Marks), The Dream Up Festival (at Theater for the New City), Alchemical Theatre Laboratory, the Brooklyn LaunchPad and The Parkside Lounge. Lawson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Emerson College (MA) and studied at the O’Neill National Theater Institute (CT). Lawson is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild of America and the League of Independent Theatre of New York.  Website: www.dtlawson.com

Kristine M. Reyes (Astoria)

Kristine M. Reyes is a playwright raised and based in New York City. Her plays include the full-length Queen for a Day(Diverse City Theater Company’s First Draft Fellowship); one-acts Quarter Century BabySomething Blue (both produced at Diverse City Theater Company) and Lola Luning’s First Steps (commissioned and produced by Women of Color Productions); and the ten-minute pieces Balikbayan Birthday (Leviathan Lab) and Ready, Aim…Fire! (ESPA at Primary Stages; published on Indie Theater Now).  Kristine is a Playwright Associate at Diverse City Theater Company, and a founding member and former co-director of the Leviathan Lab Asian American Women Writers Workshop. She was a 2012 Mary Louise Rockwell Scholar at The Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA) at Primary Stages, and has also studied at Ensemble Studio Theatre. She is a member of The Dramatists Guild.

Tyler Rivenbark (Sunnyside)

Tyler Rivenbark was born and raised in Warsaw, North Carolina, and is now based out of Sunnyside, NY. He is a graduate of the Queens College, CUNY, MFA program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation with a focus in Playwriting.  Select plays include Monosyllabic (Mellow Pages), (Silence) (Dixon Place and Artists’ Bloc), Inside the Rain (Dixon Place), Frogs; or How to Fail at Business (Left Hip), How they Played Games and Fell in Love (Abingdon Theatre) and Joe (Short Play Lab). In 2012 he received a commission from the Poetry Society of America to adapt Rita Dove’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Thomas and Beulah for the stage. In 2011 he founded the Oh, Bernice! reading series in Queens. He was a 2009 writer-in-residency at the Louis Armstrong House Museum, a residency he now oversees. He is currently an English professor at Queens College, CUNY. He is also a member of the Dramatist Guild. And when not making theatre, he can be found around the city making music.

 

Introducing The Propulsion Lab

Mission to (dit)Mars, a theatre arts collective serving Queens artists, announces a new writers group serving emerging playwrights from the borough.

With the creation of the Launch Pad Reading Series and its mission of propelling plays forward, we have created a second key component to our mission, which is The Propulsion Lab!

The Propulsion Lab is a monthly writers group made up of Queens based playwrights.  The writers group will be curated and facilitated by Mission to (dit)Mars co-founders Kari Bentley-Quinn and Don Nguyen.

Don Nguyen explains “When we asked the vibrant theatre arts community in Queens what we could do to best serve their needs, the most popular response was a writers group.  Because Kari and I are both playwrights and have been or belong to many writers groups, it made sense to launch one.”
Regarding the inaugural members of the Propulsion Lab, Kari Bentley-Quinn adds “In my experience as a theater artist, I find that amazing work is generated when you get talented, smart and generous people in a room together. I do not think we could have put together a much better group of talented, smart and generous writers. I am excited beyond measure to see what will come out of this lab and what it will bring to the larger Queens artistic community.”

The inaugural members of the  Propulsion Lab are: Kari Bentley-Quinn (Astoria/Woodside), Jenny Lane (Astoria), Courtney Lauria (Astoria), Mariah MacCarthy (Astoria), Jane Miller (Sunnyside), Don Nguyen (Long Island City), and August Schulenburg (Astoria).

(clockwise: Courtney Lauria, Jenny Lane, Mariah MacCarthy, August Schulenburg, Kari Bentely-Quinn, Don Nguyen, and Jane Miller))
(clockwise: Courtney Lauria, Jenny Lane, Mariah MacCarthy, August Schulenburg, Kari Bentely-Quinn, Don Nguyen, and Jane Miller))

Click here to read the writers’ bios