The 2014-2015 Propulsion Lab

The 2014-2015 Propulsion Lab

The 2014-2015 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), Enrique Urueta (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! 3, an evening of excerpts from the new Propulsion Lab plays.

The Secret Theatre is located at 4402 23rd St in Long Island City.
For more information on The Secret Theatre, please visit http://www.secrettheatre.com/

 

Meet our current Propulsion Lab writers: 

Jonathan Alexandratos (Astoria)

Jonathan Alexandratos
Jonathan Alexandratos

Jonathan Alexandratos writes plays.  Jonathan Alexandratos writes plays about a soldier finding the legs he lost in battle (SHEPHERD, commissioned play by Abingdon Theatre Company, 2014), a woman discovering that the Moon has grown inside of her (BREAKING/ORBIT, Last Frontier Theatre Conference, 2014), a woman without a mouth (TEETH, commissioned by Truant Arts, 2013), and the atom bomb (CHAIN REACTION, NY Fringe Festival, 2012).  Jonathan Alexandratos also made a documentary about his dad’s comic book collection, A BETTER UNIVERSE, which premiered at the 2014 Denver Comic Con.  Jonathan Alexandratos lives at the intersection of Magic and Reality.  Also in Astoria.

 

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.

 

John Caswell (Astoria)

John Caswell
John Caswell

John is the Founding Artistic Director of Progressive Theatre Workshop (www.progressivetheatreworkshop.org) and the author of several original works for the stage including ARRANGEMENTS (2013 Woodward/Newman Drama Award Finalist), GOD HATES THIS SHOW (HERE, Joe’s Pub @ The Public Theater), and SHOTS: A LOVE STORY (New York International Fringe Festival, Mesa Arts Center). He has spent time learning alongside pioneers of American theatre including Anne Bogart and The SITI Company, Circle Repertory founder Marshall W. Mason, and Ontological Hysteric Theater founder and MacArthur Genuis Richard Foreman. John studied theatre at Arizona State University.

 

Mrinalini Kamath (Astoria)

Mrinalini Kamath
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.

 

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.

 

Elizabeth Seldin (Astoria)

Elizabeth Seldin
Elizabeth Seldin

Elizabeth Seldin is a professional Actor, Writer, Acting Coach and Reiki Practitioner living in NYC.  Past writing credits include: The Carnival (Sandbag productions), Estrellas Verdes ( FullStop Collective and conceived at Filling The Well), Solitude: A Short Film ( I Am She; Christine Drew Benjamin), The Belief Line Spoken Word EP( HoneyChrome) and Monologist at Pussy Fest ( Caps Locks).  She is extremely grateful to the Mission To (Dit)Mars team for giving her the opportunity to explore her favorite passion: Storytelling.  More information can be found at Elizabethseldin.com

 

Enrique Urueta (Astoria)

Enrique Urueta
Enrique Urueta

Enrique Urueta’s plays include The Johnson Administration, The Danger of Bleeding Brown, Learn To Be Latina, and Forever Never Comes.  He has received a Jerome Fellowship, a Walter Dakin fellowship at Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and was an NEA Fellow at The MacDowell Colony. He received the New Works Fund award for Forever Never Comes from Theatre Bay Area and was a runner-up for the 2009 Yale Drama Series prize for The Danger of Bleeding Brown. Learn To Be Latina won the inaugural Great Gay Play contest sponsored by Pride Films & Plays and was named Best Ensemble Comedy of 2010 by the SF Weekly, which also named him Best Up-And-Coming Playwright of 2010.

 

Amy Witting (Sunnyside)

Amy Witting
Amy Witting

Amy E. Witting’s work has been seen at various theatres and festivals including: the Kennedy Center ACTF/NNPN MFA Playwrights Workshop (Day 392, 2014), Cabrini Rep (victor,Winner 2013 Thespis Festival), Frigid Festival (36 Hours, 2013), NY International Fringe Festival (FALLING, 2012), Edinburg Festival Fringe (G.I. Joe Jared, 2011), 59E59 (G.I. Joe Jared, 2011) The Sam French Festival (Create Me Pegasus, Finalist 2011), and The Cherry Pit (Classic 8, 2010). She received a 2014 Anne Friedman Production Grant for Road Veins, which will have a workshop production in Fall 2014. She is a grateful member of The Dramatists Guild of America, and received her MFA at Hunter College where she had the great privilege to study with Tina Howe, Arthur Kopit, and Mark Bly.

 

Tori Keenan-Zelt (Forest Hills)

Tori Keenan-Zelt
Tori Keenan-Zelt

Tori writes question-based plays. Her work has been presented or developed with The Flea, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Lark Roundtables, SG Short & Sweet, Panglossian, Cold Basement, 5D, NYMadness, Drama Book Shop, AVAdventure, Sanctuary Lab, and internationally. She’s a member of Bastard Playground, Part-Time Box, Tennessee Rep’s Ingram New Works Lab, & the Actors Studio Playwrights Unit. Last year, she was a Playwrights’ Center Core Apprentice, Lark Dramaturgy Fellow, Jerome Finalist, PoNY nominee, Kilroys List nominee, Lark Playwrights Week finalist, & two-time O’Neill semifinalist. She writes for Colonial Williamsburg’s Emmy Award-winning series and is developing an original webseries with Stage17. BA, Harvard. MFA, NYU Tisch. Member DGA. http://www.tk-z.net

Lisa Huberman (Woodside)

Website: http://lisahuberman.blogspot.com

Lisa Huberman
Lisa Huberman

Lisa has been a proud resident of Woodside for two years.  Her work includes Sex and Charitable Giving (developed by Mission to (dit)Mars and The New Light Theatre Project, 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.  In addition to Mission to (dit)Mars, Lisa is also a member of the Passage Play Lab .  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 vegans in Boardman, Ohio.

Kristine M. Reyes (Astoria)

Kristine M. Reyes
Kristine M. Reyes

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
Tyler Rivenbark

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.

Writers in Residence

Mariah MacCarthy (Astoria)

Mariah MacCarthy
Mariah MacCarthy

Plays include All About a Boy (Best of Week, FronteraFest 2013), Magic Trick (FringeNYC ’12, dev. at The Culture Project; published by Indie Theater Now), The Foreplay Play (Caps Lock Theatre; two NYIT nominations, published by Indie Theater Now), Lysistrata Rape Play (dev. at The Players Theater, Anthem Theater Company, and Filling the Well), Ampersand: A Romeo & Juliet Story (FringeNYC ’11, 20 Looking Glass Forum Awards and “Outstanding Performance” of the Fringe), The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret (Rapscallion Theatre Collective, Purple Rep, Pride Films & Plays in Chicago, and Thinking Cap Theatre in Florida; published by Indie Theater Now), You’ll Thank Me Later (Jimmy’s No. 43, Theater for the New City), Detained (Left Hip), Bachelor/Bachelorette (Co-Op Theatre East, Ticket 2 Eternity Productions), Dismemberment (Player’s Theatre), A Man of His Word (San Diego Old Globe with Playwrights Project, winner of the California Young Playwrights Contest, reading with New Dramatists), site-specific productions of l’esprit de l’escalier (The Atlantic Terminal Plays) and Three Sisters New York (Chekhov on the Hudson), and several plays in the New York & New Jersey One-Minute Play Festivals. She was the first (and, thus far, only) playwright to receive The Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences. She is Producing Director of Caps Lock Theatre, a 2012 nytheatre.com “Person of the Year,” curator of Pussyfest, a San Diego native, a Skidmore Graduate, and a member of the Dramatists Guild.

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.

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All Systems Go: Mission 2!

Photo Jun 16, 4 37 26 PM

June 30th @7pm!

ALL SYSTEMS GO: MISSION 2 is an evening of excerpts from five brand new plays by the Queens based writers group The Propulsion Lab.  Participating Queens based playwrights for this event are Lisa Huberman, Kristine M. Reyes, Tyler Rivenbark, Mariah MacCarthy, and Don Nguyen.

The cast includes Matthew Park, David Shih, Jenni Putney, Alexandra O’Daly, Tom Coiner, Margaret Hee, Megan Lee, Paula Galloway, Lori Parquet, Bryant Carroll, Siho Ellsmore, Katie Consamus, Jesse Geguzis, Turna Mete, Kristan Brown, Jen Ring, Raja Burrows and Elizabeth Seldin.

The evening is directed by Kel Haney, Colette Robert, Aimee Todoroff, Christopher Diercksen and Kristin McCarthy Parker.

Click here for the full color program!

A reception will be held following the event, where beer and wine can be purchased.

Excerpts will appear from the following five new plays:

Lily in Love
by Kristine M. Reyes
directed by Colette Robert

Lily is a good Catholic Filipina daughter who’s always known exactly what to do with her life — until she falls in love with a woman. Lily’s life just got complicated.

You Like It
by Mariah MacCarthy
directed by Kel Haney

Ganymede is “new in town,” and Orlando won’t shut up about his ex-girl Rosalind.  Secrets, gender, forbidden love: this bromance is about to get real.  A queer riff on a classic.

The Hydra
by Tyler Rivenbark
directed by Aimee Todoroff

Through an amalgamation of Greek and American folk tales, The Hydra finds Iraq War Veteran, Stephen Ajax, in a netherworld inhabited by Gods, Goddesses, and puppets to face the aftermath of his former life.

Sex and Charitable Giving
by Lisa Huberman
directed by Christopher Diercksen

In a tiny Queens apartment, Natasha and Ankit embark on a BDSM journey together. When they decide to sponsor a little girl in Nepal to help out Natasha’s roommate Marcy, the couple find themselves confronting uncomfortable truths and pushing boundaries that go beyond sexual role play.

Hello, from the Children of Planet Earth
by Don Nguyen
directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker

On the eve of the spacecraft Voyager 1’s crossover into interstellar space, William gets a phone call that will possibly change his life forever.

This free play reading will be held at The Secret Theatre located at 4402 23rd Street in Long Island City on Monday, June 30th at 7pm.

To attend the free reading, please make a reservation on our website: https://missiontoditmars.wordpress.com/reservations/

The Secret Theater
4402 23rd St, Long Island City
E, M, G to Court Sq.
7 to Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave or Court Sq.
N, Q to Queensboro Plaza

The Playwrights

BIOS

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 RainbowHigh 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.

Mariah MacCarthy (Astoria) Mariah MacCarthy’s work has been presented and developed at Rattlestick, Primary Stages, EST/Youngblood, Culture Project, New Dramatists, La MaMa, HERE Arts Center, The Brick, Atlantic Stage 2, Bowery Poetry Club, Jimmy’s No. 43, Theater for the New City, Players Theatre, site-specifically around New York, and in Austin, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, Baltimore, South Carolina, and Fringe NYC. Plays include You Like It (dev. EST/Youngblood), The Hazards of Loving While Broken (dev. Mission to (dit)Mars, HUB-BUB, and Filling the Well), Safeword (dev. Flux Theatre Ensemble and Kid Brooklyn Productions), Baby Mama: One Woman’s Quest to Give Her Baby to Gay People (dev. Bughouse SPIN, Sparking Fuse/Pull Together Productions, and FTW), Mrs. Mayfield’s Fifth-Grade Class of ’93 20-Year Reunion (Caps Lock), Magic Trick (Fringe NYC), The Foreplay Play (two NYIT Award nominations: Outstanding Production and Outstanding Full-Length Script), Lysistrata Rape Play (dev. The Theatre Project and FTW), Ampersand: A Romeo & Juliet Story (winner of 20 Looking Glass Forum Awards and FringeNYC “Outstanding Performance”), The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret (“f*cking brilliant” -Kate Bornstein; productions across America) and A Man of His Word (winner, California Young Playwrights Contest; dev. New Dramatists). Winner of the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award and the Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences, 2012 nytheatre.com “Person of the Year,” Executive Artistic Director and founder of Caps Lock Theatre, Associate Artistic Director of the Brick, curator of Pussyfest and Sex With Robots, Filling the Well resident artist, San Diego native, Skidmore graduate, and a member of Youngblood, the Propulsion Lab, and Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

Don Nguyen (Long Island City) Full-length plays include Sound (Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2014, Playwrights Realm Fellowship), Red Flamboyant (Ojai Playwrights Conference 2011, nomination – L. Arnold Weissberger Award 2011, finalist O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Cherry Lane Mentors Project nomination, Woodward International Playwriting Prize), The Man From Saigon (Reading – Naked Angels, 2012 New York Stage and Film Founders Award, Nomination – L. Arnold Weissberger Award 2012), The Commencement of William Tan (NYSAF Residency, 2G Jumpstart Commission), Three To Beam Up (The Shelterbelt Theatre, Nebraska Arts Grant recipient).  Don is a member of the New York Public Theater’s 2008 Inaugural Emerging Writers Group, The Civilians R & D Group, Ma-Yi Writers Lab, Mission to (dit)mars co-founder and volunteer at The 52nd Street Project.

Kristine M. Reyes (Astoria) 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 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.

The Directors

BIOS

Kel Haney (Astoria) Recent directing credits include Jonathan Caren’s THE RECOMMENDATION (The Flea), Jessica Dickey’s ROW AFTER ROW,Rachel Bonds’ LITTLE ROCK (both at Williamstown Theatre Festival),Nathan Leigh (music & lyrics) & Kyle Jarrow’s (book, music & lyrics) THE CONSEQUENCES (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre – world premiere) & Edith Freni’s EL FUEGO (Partial Comfort Productions). Kel has also directed and developed new work at Ars Nova, Atlantic Acting School, Desipina & Company, Dixon Place, The Directors Company, Cherry Lane Theatre,  Emerging Artists Theatre,Ensemble Studio Theatre/Youngblood, Keen Company, The Lark, Ma-Yi Theatre Company, Naked Angels, New Dramatists, New Georges, NY Fringe Festival, Premiere Stages, Rattlestick, Rising Phoenix,Studio 42, United Solo Festival, Vampire Cowboys, Westport Country Playhouse, 3 Graces  & the 52nd Street Project.

Kristin McCarthy Parker (Astoria) is a Queens-based director and sometimes actor. Her directing work includes Bears (59E59), kumrads won’t (FringeNYC), All’s Well That Ends Well (Mad and Merry), and the upcoming spoof Hold on to your butts: the Jerassic Parque Experience. She has developed a variety of new work with Amios’ Shotz! (penned by Mat Smart, Sevan K. Greene, Lindsay Joy, and others) and assisted under Ed Iskandar (The Mysteries), Michael Greif, Trip Cullman, Wendy Goldberg, and Jenn Thompson. Kristin is a graduate of The University of Evansville.

Aimee Todoroff is the Artistic Director of Elephant Run District, and indie theatre company based in NYC, where she helmed the popular Brecht in the Park, the Stampede Lab Series and American Gun Show, among others. She has directed at Primary Stages, The Living Theatre, HERE Arts Center, 59E59, The Metropolitan Theatre Company and others, and has directed the premieres of works by Cusi Cram, Daisy Foote and Chris Harcum, including Green, We Haven’t Told Anyone About This Yet and Rabbit Island, a Backstage Magazine’s Critic’s Pick and a “best of” the 2012 Frigid Festival.  Recently, Aimee served as the Assistant Director under John Rando for David Ives’ new play The Heir Apparent at Classic Stage Company. Aimee received her MFA from Southampton Arts. www.aimeetodoroff.org

Colette Robert is a Los Angeles native currently living and working in New York.  Recent directing credits include: Something Like Loneliness (EST Marathon), when last we flew (Diversionary Theatre, FringeNYC, GLAAD Media Award), Barriers (Desipina/HERE), Pluck & Tenacity (Samuel French Festival Winner) andStockton (EST Unfiltered).  Colette is a proud member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Old Vic/New Voices Network, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and was the Public Theater’s 2009 Van Lier Directing Fellow. She has developed new work with Naked Angels, The 52nd Street Project, New Georges, Classical Theatre of Harlem, The Old Vic, Ma-Yi, 2g, Vineyard Arts Project, NYTW, and Sundance Theatre Lab. M.A., RADA and King’s College, London. B.A., Yale University. www.coletterobert.com

Christopher Diercksen (Astoria)

 

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.

Announcing the new Propulsion Lab members!

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 Writers Group

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