Ma-Yi Theater Company Announces 10 Writers in Residence
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 09:12 am EST 02/08/24


Ma-Yi Writers Lab Announces 2024 Cohort Including Naveen Bahar Choudhury, Mia Chung, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, Katelynn Kenney, Ankita Raturi, Ren Dara Santiago, Minghao Tu, Maureen Sebastian, and Liqing Xu

Ma-Yi Theater Company is proud to announce that Lisa Sanaye Dring has been awarded a 2024 Tow Foundation Playwright Residency. Dring's groundbreaking play, SUMO, which had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in a co-production with Ma-Yi in October 2023, is slated for its New York premiere in 2024. SUMO is an ambitious and unique work that gives audiences a peek into the highly ritualized and hierarchical world of Sumo wrestling. The play's premiere received critical acclaim, including a 2023 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

During her residency, Ms. Dring will work closely with Ma-Yi Theater's Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña to refine and enhance SUMO by integrating insights garnered from its run at the La Jolla Playhouse.

The Tow Playwright Residency offers a unique opportunity for playwrights to be integrated into daily life of the hosting theater while preparing their play for production. This year-long residency provides a full-time salary and health benefits to the playwright.

"Investing in outstanding talent like Lisa Sanaye Dring reinforces Ma-Yi's commitment to nurturing emerging Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) playwrights," added Ma-Yi's Associate Producer, Jakob Carter.

Ma-Yi is also proud to announce the 2024 Ma-Yi Writers Lab cohort, which is the largest collective of AANHPI playwrights in the country. Founded in 2004 by Sung Rno in connection with the TCG/NEA residency program, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is a professional peer-based workshop in permanent residence at Ma-Yi, designed to nurture and showcase Asian-American playwrights across the country. The six new members of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab are Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, Katelynn Kenney, Ankita Raturi, Ren Dara Santiago, Minghao Tu, and Liqing Xu who join legacy members Naveen Bahar Choudhury, Mia Chung, and Maureen Sebastian.

The Ma-Yi Writers Lab is unique for its peer-to-peer format, and how it leverages its collective AANHPI brain trust in creating a space where writers do not have to explain themselves. Its members include Michi Barall, Hansol Jung, Kimber Lee, Michael Lew, Rehana Lew Mirza, Qui Nguyen, Jiehae Park, Nandita Shenoy, Lloyd Suh, and Lauren Yee, to name a few. Collectively, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab has altered the face of Asian American Theater with works that break stereotypes and redraws boundaries for what is considered culturally specific theater.

Ma-Yi Theater is committed to providing the Writers Lab with rehearsal facilities and development support for workshops and readings. As always, the playwright is at the center of this process, driving all aspects of development.

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About Lisa Sanaye Dring

Lisa Sanaye Dring's play SUMO was co-produced by La Jolla Playhouse and Ma-Yi Theater Company in 2023. SUMO won an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and was recently nominated for Outstanding New Play by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle. In 2024, her work will be produced by East West Players, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Rogue Artists Ensemble and the LGBTQ Center of Los Angeles. She has worked on multiple projects with Meow Wolf and was a member of The Geffen Writers' Room. She was honored as a recipient of the 2020/21 PLAY LA Stage Raw/Humanitas Prize and has been a finalist for the Relentless Award, the O'Neill Playwrights' Conference, a 2x finalist (one honorable mention) for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and a finalist for the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference. Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, a piece she co-wrote with Chelsea Sutton, was nominated for 7 LA Ovation Awards including Best Production (winner of 5).

Lisa's work has been developed/produced by The New Group, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Circle X, SCF @ Son of Semele, Playwrights' Arena, Rogue Artists Ensemble, UCSB Launch Pad Series, CalArts, The Motor Company, Theatre of NOTE and Skylight Theatre. They have been awarded fellowships at MacDowell, Blue Mountain Center and Yaddo. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California and was awarded the 2021 Dorothy and Granville Hicks Residency at Yaddo, which honors one promising young writer a year.

About the Ma-Yi Writers Lab playwrights

Naveen Bahar Choudhury is a playwright, librettist and lyricist, whose work has been produced, commissioned, and/or developed by Ma-Yi Theater, Prospect Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, New Federal Theatre, Martha's Vineyard Playhouse, Joe's Pub at The Public Theater, The Lark Play Development Center, New Dramatists and more. She has been a Dramatists Guild Fellow, a LaGuardia Performing Arts Center Playwriting Resident and a Mellon Creative Research Fellow/Playwriting Resident at the University of Washington. Her play SKIN is published in Plays For Two, an anthology by Vintage Books/Random House, and was broadcast on Northeast Public Radio as part of the Playing On Air series. Her short musical on film, Lady Apsara, commissioned by Prospect Theater and written with composer Kamala Sankaram, was presented at the 44th Asian American International Film Festival. She is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Smith College, and has previously taught playwriting and dramatic literature at Amherst College, Sarah Lawrence College, and The New School for Drama, where she earned her M.F.A., as well as for the Dramatists Guild Institute and the Enough Plays Project.

Mia Chung has received a 2024 MacDowell Fellowship. She also received a 2023 Whiting Award for Drama and a 2022 MAP grant for a new music-theatre work. Her play Catch as Catch Can was produced by Playwrights Horizons in Fall 2022; Page 73 produced the world premiere in Fall 2018. Her monologue Ball in the Air premiered in OUT OF TIME in Winter 2022 at NAATCO/The Public Theater. Double Take appeared in Playwrights Horizons' inaugural issue of ALMANAC in 2020. You for Me for You had a UK premiere at the Royal Court Theatre, a Korean premiere at the National Theatre Center of Korea, a US premiere at Woolly Mammoth Theatre (DC), and multiple productions around the country; the play is published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.

Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin (they/she) is a writer, educator, and new work advocate. Plays include Call Out Culture (2022 O'Neill NPC Finalist, 2021 NADIA Festival, 2019 Ars Nova's ANTFest), High School Coven (2023 Strand Theatre production, 2017 Corkscrew Festival), Harpers Ferry 2019 (2022 Know Theatre of Cincinnati production, 2021 Kendeda finalist), and Tiger Beat (2021 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, 2021 Seven Devils finalist). Kaela's received six Kennedy Center awards and developed work with Breaking the Binary, the Alliance Theater, the Coop's Clusterf*ck, and Pipeline Theater Company's Playlab. Commissions include work with Yangtze Rep (Project YZ), EST/Sloan, Montana Repertory Theater, and College of the Holy Cross. They have taught playwriting at Indiana University, Cornish College of the Arts, and Freehold Theater, and they're a founding member of Undiscovered Countries, a Brooklyn-based incubator of new interdisciplinary art. They currently work as Programming Associate at the Tank and as Literary Manager for Luna Stage.

Katelynn Kenney (she/her) is a disabled, queer Filipina American writer, director, performer, and teacher who develops work for the stage, screen, audio, and games. Her plays have been produced and developed by Clubbed Thumb, The Tank, Primary Stages' ESPA, the Skeleton Rep, FEAST at Under St. Marks, the Baltimore Asian Pasifika Arts Collective, Prospect Theater Company, and others. Kenney was a finalist for the 2021 Sundance Uprise Grant and was awarded a 2021 Ma-Yi Micro Grant. She was a member of the '22-'23 Clubbed Thumb Early Career Writers Group and is in the ‘23-'25 New Georges Jam. She is currently freelancing and GM-ing for a local game shop, learning to manage her chronic illness, and researching monsters of the Philippines for her next project. Her works share a dark comedic bite and a healthy dose of magic. MFA: Brooklyn College, Playwriting.

Ankita Raturi (she/her) is a Queens-based writer and teaching artist who grew up in capital cities, pediatric gastroenterology offices, and the bisexual closet. She writes hyper-theatrical works in Hindi/Urdu, English, and sometimes Bahasa Indonesia about living between cultural identities and contending with the ongoing legacies of colonization. 2022 Winner of the Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation's Ollie Award. Commissions: Artists at Play & A.P.A.F.T.; E.S.T./Sloan; Cygnet/Finish Line, South Coast Rep/Elizabeth George. New play development: Playwrights Realm, Cygnet Theatre, Artists at Play, The COOP, Atlantic Pacific Theatre, Theater Masters, Hypokrit Theatre Company, New York Shakespeare Exchange, Pete's Candy Store, Natyabharati. Devised work with Charlotte Murray: Fresh Ground Pepper, Corkscrew Theater Festival, Dixon Place. Currently practicing applied theatre as an actor-teacher with CUNY's Creative Arts Team. B.F.A. in Drama: NYU/Tisch. M.F.A. in Playwriting: UC San Diego.

Ren Dara Santiago (They/Them): Yonkers & Harlem Native. Fili-Rican storyteller & world-builder. Awards: Dramatist Guild's Lanford Wilson Award 2022, TOW Fellowship 2020, Cornelia Street American Playwriting Award 2017. Plays: THE SIBLINGS PLAY (Cherry Lane Theatre: Mentor Project 2017; Ojai Playwrights Conference 2017; TOW Fellowship Recipient 2020, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); SOMETHING IN THE BALETE TREE (Winner: Lark Play Development Center, Playwright's Week 2019. Finalist: National Playwright's Conference 2019); ALL THE TIME (Drama Club NYC commission); SUBLIMINAL (SUNY College commission). Building Models, Someone's Family (Homebound Project); Hard as You Can (En Garde Arts); In the Shit (Radio Round); Same Shadow (2G Productions commission); Where We At (NY Rep commission). Audio: Conceived and Curated MTA RADIO PLAYS (Rattlestick Playwright's Theater); Head Writer: SEE YOU IN YOUR NIGHTMARES (iHeart Media). TV: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Showtime), staff-writer. Upcoming: AIN'T IT THOUGH, experimental anthology feature (C-19 Screenwriter's Group), writer, co-director, co-producer, actor. LILA BLUE'S: THERE IS A DROUGHT, and SWEETPEA cinematic two-part music video, lead actor (dir. Samantha Soule). I'LL WRITE YOU DOWN IN BRICK & MORTAR, short film, stage play (The Theater Co).

Maureen Sebastian is a Lortel Award-nominated actor, writer, and producer. After graduating from the University of Michigan, Maureen moved to New York City after receiving the J.R. Humphreys Fellowship for writing for the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University. She produced and starred in the web series "Pretty Precious Unicorns" and the short film "The Second Province", which was nominated for Best Short Film at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival. She produced and co-created the podcast "Gulp" with Risa Sarachan, which was a part of The Independent Filmmaker Project's inaugural Audio Hub, as well as "A Guide to Freedom: A North Star Fund Podcast" with the social justice non-profit North Star Fund, which supports grassroots organizing led by communities of color. She is a member of Ma-Yi Theatre Company's Writer's Lab and The Gotham Film & Media Institute.

Minghao Tu is an immigrant playwright from Wuhan, China. He has been a 2050 Artistic Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop, a Van Lier Fellow at Rattlestick Theater, a Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights' Center, an artist-in-residence at Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, Pipeline Theatre Company's PlayLab, and the Eugene O'Neill Foundation. His works have been presented/produced at Rattlestick Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Yangtze Repertory Theatre, Playwrights' Center, Tofte Lake Center, Voyage Theater Company, New York Public Library, Ground Floor Theatre, and UT New Theatre; featured on The Steppenwolf Theatre's The Mix; Finalists: the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, and the 2021 Woodward/Newman Award at the Bloomington Playwrights Project. He has been a Jame A. Michener fellow at UT Austin.

Liqing Xu is a playwright and screenwriter. Their work has been developed/presented/supported by Theater Mu, Second Stage, the María Irene Fornés Institute Writers Workshop, The Orchard Project, the Sewanee Writers' Conference (as a Walter E. Dakin Fellow), Breaking the Binary Festival, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, among others. They are a proud inaugural member of the Mu Tang Clan and are thrilled to join the Ma-Yi Lab (2.0). Currently, she is a returning 2023-2025 Many Voices Fellow at The Playwrights' Center. BFA: NYU, Film and Television. MFA: Hunter College, Playwriting. Born and raised in Northern California, they are often between Los Angeles and New York.

About the Tow Foundation Playwright Residency

The Tow Foundation Playwright Residency is awarded to New York City theaters to support and present the work of a pre-selected playwright. The award integrates the selected playwright into the theater's day-to-day operations and includes full-time salary and benefits, allowing each playwright to gain experience and insight into all aspects of the nonprofit theater world. Sponsoring theater companies commit to a full production of the playwright's play.

About Ma-Yi Theater Company

Founded in 1989, Ma-Yi Theater Company is a professional Drama Desk, Lortel, and Obie Award-winning, Off- Broadway not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers.

Its numerous acclaimed productions include Lloyd Suh's The Chinese Lady, Daniel K. Issac's ONCE UPON A (korean) TIME, Hansol Jung's Wolf Play, and Lisa Sanaye Dring's SUMO . Other productions include Mike Lew's Teenage Dick and Bike America, Qui Nguyen's The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G and Soul Samurai (with Vampire Cowboys), Rescue Me by Michi Barall, and Lonnie Carter's The Romance of Magno Rubio.

The Ma-Yi Writers Lab, a signature program founded in 2004, is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. The Lab emboldens a new generation of Asian American artists to voice their experiences, while developing a steady stream of quality new works by Asian American playwrights for Ma-Yi's own performing repertory. New works developed at the Writers Lab have gone on to successful productions around the country, at such theaters as Victory Gardens, Laguna Playhouse, Long Wharf Theater, Woolly Mammoth and the Actors Theater of Louisville, to name a few.

Ma-Yi's productions have earned 10 Obie Awards, 5 Henry Hewes Award nominations, a Drama Desk nomination for Best Play and the Special Drama Desk Award for "more than two decades of excellence and for nurturing Asian-American voices in stylistically varied and engaging theater."

Ma-Yi Theater is under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña.

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