Introducing the PlayLab Class of 2020

The Pipeline PlayLab, a year-long series of monthly meetings and workshops, provides a developmental space for playwrights to take the earliest stage of their biggest, most impossible ideas and turn them into full-length scripts. From an extensive application process, we find wild dreamers who are looking to take bold artistic risks, put them all in a room together, provide structure and support, and we all make magic

This year, the Pipeline artistic team received applications from about 225 playwrights. We then selected 7 outstanding artists to be in residence with us through June 2020. It is with great admiration and excitement that we now introduce our seventh PlayLab class: Nissy Aya, Andy Boyd, Zora Howard, Molly Beach Murphy & Erica Mann, Utkarsh Rajawat, and Ran Xia. Learn More

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Spotlight on Sam: Young desire and entrapment

We’re presenting the world premiere reading of Sam Max’s Coop as part of our Week of Extraordinary Risk on June 23, 3:30PM. This new play focuses on Avery, who is stuck on a family farm, dreaming of the outside world, and who hires a moonshine delivery boy to break her out. Learn more from Sam below, and reserve you tickets (free, $10 suggested donation) today.

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want us to know about your play?

Sam Max: Coop is about young desire and entrapment. It’s told in loops of time that compound inside a girl’s head. The play is partially inspired by the time I spent volunteering on a Catholic farm in Appalachia in college. There were no clocks on the farm, and one staff member was in charge of a schedule none of us ever saw, and they would ring this huge iron bell sporadically throughout the day. We weren’t allowed to use technology during our stay there; it had to be locked inside a car. I remember feeling absolutely psychotic returning to society after that. Some of the volunteers sat in a group at the Mexican restaurant in the town over, and I nearly vomited at the site of a wide-screen TV and the big portions of refried beans.

PTC: When and where did you decide to start writing this play?

SM: I started working on the piece in July last year. I have begun using a looping pedal setup in my work, and I wanted to use my time with Pipeline to make a music-play with many vocal loopers going at once. I had an idea that it would follow thirty chickens speaking at one time in a web of sounds. I still want to make that piece, I think, or maybe a concept album of that idea. Coop ended up being very different in many ways, but it still honors the notion of an ensemble of chickens in an oblique way. We don’t see the chickens but hear them as punctuation marks throughout the play.

PTC: What excites you most about this project?

SM: I am excited about its form, and how the structure of the play – how it works as a machine – feels closely tailored to the psychology of the main character.

PTC: In one sentence, tell us something strange that happens in your play.

SM: Mother and Father lick a dead rabbit repeatedly.

PTC: Are you working on anything else?

SM: I’m making a play called Prosperity! with my friend Jake who performs as a drag persona named June. The script incorporates wet dreams about Michael Phelps, marinara sauce, and a squirrel head. It follows a tense young relationship, and unpacks how our parents’ wealth influences the intricacies of friendship in insidious ways.

PTC: What’s next for you?

SM: I was invited to a residency in Pittsfield called the Mastheads, which will be my entire July. While there I’ll be working on a pilot script, and a new play I’ve been calling Teen Village. It’s about Jewish summer camp and some little deaths. A bit more down the line, I’ll also be performing my show Twin Size Beds at Joe’s Pub in November.


Coop

By Sam Max | Directed By Mia Hull

Sunday, June 23rd at 3:30 | RSVP
Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
440 Lafayette St, 3rd Floor, NYC

Avery has spent her life stuck on the family farm, dreaming of the outside world. The ghost of her gold-toothed uncle won’t shut up, and her parents won’t stop licking a dead rabbit, so she hires a moonshine delivery boy to break her out.

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Spotlight on Sukari: Exploring concentric circles of hate

We’re presenting the world premiere reading of Sukari Jones’ Office Comedy as part of our Week of Extraordinary Risk on June 22, 7:30PM. This new play inspired by Sukari’s experience working in Corporate America where The Empties tried to kill her. Learn more from Sukari below, and reserve you tickets (free, $10 suggested donation) today.

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want us to know about your play?

Sukari Jones: Office Comedy is blatantly inspired by* the the twelve years I spent dying in slow motion/working in Corporate Finance. I wanted to write the play to explore concentric circles of hate, watching a strong black femme body dissolve in a drowning of microaggressions over time, like a penny in a lukewarm glass of Coke. My most hated question that I have gotten asked about Office Comedy is hands down “did that really happen?!” I hate this question because it’s not the point of the show. I also hate this question because of course all of it happened.

*Any Resemblance to Actual Persons, Living or Dead, is Purely Coincidental … 🙂

PTC: When and where did you decide to start writing this play?

SJ: I have been writing this play in my mind since 2009. Under every florescent light. On every uncomfortable black rolling desk chair with my feet on didn’t-even-try grey carpet. Every time an Empty has degraded me racially or sexually, my heart captured it on emotional videotape. I started posting some of these episodes between myself and the Empties — corporate zombies who think they are hilarious or interesting and think they have hobbies but actually only have spending patterns–on Facebook. My FB friends reacted with pity and morbid fascination, so I decided I’d like to go full out and do a play about the misery I’ve outlasted.

PTC: What excites you most about this project?

SJ: That it is technically a work of fiction, since I survived.

PTC: In one sentence, tell us something strange that happens in your play.

SJ: The audience laughing even though it’s an office comedy set the morning of 9/11.

PTC: Are you working on anything else?

SJ: A play with music about a black ballerina who discovers a magical booth that has the power to turn you from minority into white, (but like, permanently, not just for vacay) and she only has three midnights to decide – for now, I’m calling it Shadow Dancer. For me, the show is a meditation on self-hate. And, as always, magic.

PTC: What’s next for you?

SJ: Commission with Barrington Stage Company writing a YA novel adaptation musical about a little boy who gets lightening-based superpowers and uses them to fight bullying; Commission with Atlantic Theater Company writing an original musical called I Have A Dream, inspired by re-centering the unsung civil rights hero Bayard Rustin — the man behind Martin Luther King Jr. who taught him the strategy of non-violence, planned the 1963 March on Washington, and was constantly made to choose between advocacy for black vs queer rights as well as his own identity; continuing to duel with finance bros over the squat rack, inevitably winning, continuing to get swole; Office Comedy going up somewhere!


Office Comedy

By Sukari Jones | Directed By Tamilla Woodard

Saturday, June 22nd at 7:30 | RSVP
Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
440 Lafayette St, 3rd Floor, NYC

Office Comedy is a 9/11 office comedy. Its inspired by Sukari’s experience working in Corporate America where The Empties tried to kill her. A play with music. (Also, it’s really a tragedy.)

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Spotlight on Andrew: Exploring themes of diaspora with magical puppets

We’re presenting the world premiere reading of Andrew Siañez-De La O’s The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home as part of our Week of Extraordinary Risk on June 20, 7:30PM. This new play is our first venture into theatre for young audiences and, at its heart, is intended to help young people of color reconnect with their indigenous roots. Learn more from Andrew below, and reserve you tickets (free, $10 suggested donation) today.

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want us to know about your play?

Andrew Siañez-De La O: That at its heart, I wanted this play to be a way to help young generations of people of color, especially those on the US-Mexico Border, reconnect with their indigenous roots.

PTC: When and where did you decide to start writing this play?

ASDLO: Mid 2018, I had just wrapped up working on Borderline, a much darker play about the border and its impact on young children of color, and had really enjoyed writing the two young sibling characters. I wanted to keep that momentum and start working on a more lighthearted, mythical play where I could explore themes of diaspora while writing scenes with magical puppets.

PTC: What excites you most about this project?

ASDLO: That my younger siblings can see themselves represented in this play. It’s an adventure that looks like home and tells myths and legends that are ingrained in their culture.

PTC: In one sentence, tell us something strange that happens in your play.

ASDLO: My home town (El Paso) has this crazy alligator statue that I had to not only put in this play, but also bring to life!

PTC: Are you working on anything else?

ASDLO: I am hard at work on my new play Wilder which is being development through the Gish Jen Fellowship with the Writers’ Room of Boston. Wilder will take a look at the long term ramifications of this administration’s child separation policy. I am also a guest writer on the Latinx children’s fiction podcast Timestorm!

PTC: What’s next for you?

ASDLO: Wilder and Timestorm are currently both my work and passion projects so I’m excited to continue working on them while also catching up on some reading.


The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home

By Andrew Siañez-De La O | Directed By Tatiana Pandiani

Thursday, June 20th at 7:30 | RSVP
Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
440 Lafayette St, 3rd Floor, NYC

Andrea and Mateo Ortiz have always seen their abuelo as a hero, but when an ancient Zapotec God reveals a dark family secret, the twins must journey back to the land of their ancestors to right a long forgotten wrong.

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Spotlight on Kristin: Witchcraft as political action

We’re presenting the world premiere reading of Kristin Slaney’s Let’s Hex the President as part of our Week of Extraordinary Risk on June 17, 7:30PM. This new play is about about witchcraft and anger and ritual and politics. Learn more from Kristin below, and reserve you tickets (free, $10 suggested donation) today.

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want us to know about your play?

Kristin Slaney: In 2017, there were a number of news stories about groups of people getting together to cast spells against the current American government. Let’s Hex the President uses this as a launching point.

PTC: When and where did you decide to start writing this play?

KS: Sometime after these news stories in 2017, I started thinking about witchcraft as political action, as there is a long history of that– and then I wondered what it might look like if a coven was started via something like Craigslist (which now no longer posts personal ads) or meetup.com, with this purpose in mind. I’m not sure where exactly I was when I decided to write it– I knew I was interested in it, but didn’t know what form that interest would take, writing-wise.

PTC: What excites you most about this project?

KS: The idea of anger transforming into something magical, maybe uncontrollable, is really exciting to me. I’m also interested in the idea of ritual onstage, and the different ways of implicating the audience in those rituals.

PTC: In one sentence, tell us something strange that happens in your play.

KS: Someone sticks pins into a pig heart.

PTC: Are you working on anything else?

KS: I’m working on a screenplay and a new pilot at the moment, and I’m writing a musical with The Lobbyists.

KS: What’s next for you?

PTC: I’m heading to Nantucket to do some research for the musical, since that’s where it’s set, and otherwise will likely have a summer of writing in New York heatwaves.


Let’s Hex the President

By Kristin Slaney | Directed by Jaki Bradley

Monday, June 17th at 7:30 | RSVP
Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
440 Lafayette St, 3rd Floor, NYC

Molly is an ethics law expert. Iris works at an occult store. DeeDee is a goth teen. Linda is a housewife. After Molly places an ad seeking coven members on meetup.com, the four of them start to meet monthly to cast spells on the current American government but what starts out as innocuous soon takes a turn for the supernatural. Lets Hex the President is a play about witchcraft and anger and ritual and politics. 

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Spotlight on Sevan: These things have happened

We’re presenting the world premiere reading of Sevan K. Greene’s When Bees Last Whispered as part of our Week of Extraordinary Risk on June 19, 7:30PM. Set in the near and distant future, the play explores climate change, overpopulation, and the end of humanity. Learn more from Sevan below, and reserve you tickets (free, $10 suggested donation) today.

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want us to know about your play?

Sevan K. Greene: These things have happened in other places. They’ve happened in our past. They will happen in our future.

PTC: When and where did you decide to start writing this play?

SKG: The basic idea was outlined more than a few years for a (failed) EST-Sloan commission. I resurrected it for my application to the group.

PTC: What excites you most about this project?

SKG: Trying something different in terms of my writing style, script development, and narrative.

PTC: In one sentence, tell us something strange that happens in your play.

SKG: Bees. Lots of them.

PTC: Are you working on anything else?

SKG: A musical about the infamous Victorians Fanny & Stella.

PTC: What’s next for you?

SKG: Not a thing.


When Bees Last Whispered

By Sevan K. Greene | Directed By Tom Costello

Wednesday, June 19th at 7:30 | RSVP
Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
440 Lafayette St, 3rd Floor, NYC

A nation-wide one-child policy. A couple expecting twins. An imminent planetary collapse. An angel just fell from the sky. And the bees are pissed off. Set in the near and distant future, When Bees Last Whispered explores the effects of overpopulation and our responsibility to an exhausted planet. How easy is the decision to kill one to save billions?

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Spotlight on Simon & Skylar: The horror of living in a large city

Our Week of Extraordinary Risk, our annual celebration of the bold and brave work being developed in our PlayLab writer’s group, is happening June 17 – 23 at the Robert Moss Theater. Skylar Fox and Simon Henriques, the only playwriting duo currently in the PlayLab, will be among the first to show their work. Their play, Society, will receive it’s world premiere reading as part of this series on Tuesday, June 18, 7:30PM. In advance of the reading, we learned more from Simon and Skylar about their goals and early inspiration for this project, as well as what’s coming next for them. Learn more below, and reserve your tickets to Society here (free, $10 suggested donation).

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want us to know about your play?

Simon & Skylar: It’s performed with the actors and audience seated around a giant conference room table. You’ll get to know a stranger or two!

PTC: When and where did you decide to start writing this play?

S&S: It was about two years ago, at an Italian restaurant (where all great ideas are born). We wanted to create something that spoke to the horror of living in a large city—and living at all—and why people keep deciding to do it.

PTC: What excites you most about this project?

S&S: We try to make plays that build unique and personal relationships with audiences. This play takes some of the biggest risks we’ve taken on that front, and we’re excited to see how they play out.

PTC: In one sentence, tell us something strange that happens in your play.

S&S: Exactly one bomb goes off in the subway every day, but it’s still the most convenient way of getting around, so everyone takes it anyway.

PTC: Are you working on anything else?

S&S: Yes! We’ve got a couple other projects in the works. One is an irreverent and physically taxing riff on Death of a Salesman performed as a tackle football game, complete with announcers, drills, big #1 foam fingers, PSAs on traumatic head injuries, and nachos. We’re also working on a play about two souls trying to break out of their cycles of reincarnation, with a ton of stage magic and visual effects in it.

PTC: What’s next for you?

S&S: We’re about to start a residency with Ars Nova as a part of their Makers Lab, where we’re working on a new musical called The Wayback. It’s about a group of historical reenactors who start a business reenacting people’s real, lived memories. We’ve never written a musical!


Society

By Skylar Fox and Simon Henriques | Directed by Skylar Fox

Tuesday, June 18th at 7:30 | RSVP
Robert Moss Theater at Playwrights Downtown
440 Lafayette St, 3rd Floor, NYC

Part play, part participatory focus group, part collective fever dream, Society explores what happens when the silent contracts we make with one another are pushed to extremes.

Come in. Have a seat. Have some mixed nuts. Circle a number from 1 to 5. This is just the beginning.

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Introducing Our Week of Extraordinary Risk 2019

Our Week of Extraordinary Risk (formerly the Bonfire Series) features world premiere bold and imaginative play readings from our PlayLab Class of 2019 and will take place June 17 – 23 at Playwrights Downtown. Through the PlayLab, we endeavor to support playwrights in turning their biggest, wildest ideas into finished scripts.

This year’s series features covens, ghosts, organized pigeons, wrestling crocodiles, Corporate America, and the end of humanity. Scroll down to check out the full series schedule and reserve your tix (by suggested donation) today!

Monday, June 17th at 7:30
Let’s Hex the President
By Kristin Slaney | Directed by Jaki Bradley
Molly is an ethics law expert. Iris works at an occult store. DeeDee is a goth teen. Linda is a housewife. After Molly places an ad seeking coven members on meetup.com, the four of them start to meet monthly to cast spells on the current American governmentbut what starts out as innocuous soon takes a turn for the supernatural. Lets Hex the President is a play about witchcraft and anger and ritual and politics. 

Tuesday, June 18th at 7:30
Society 
By Skylar Fox and Simon Henriques | Directed by Skylar Fox
Part play, part participatory focus group, part collective fever dream, Society explores what happens when the silent contracts we make with one another are pushed to extremes.

Come in. Have a seat. Have some mixed nuts. Circle a number from 1 to 5. This is just the beginning.

Wednesday, June 19th at 7:30
When Bees Last Whispered
By Sevan K. Greene | Directed By Tom Costello
A nation-wide one-child policy. A couple expecting twins. An imminent planetary collapse. An angel just fell from the sky. And the bees are pissed off. Set in the near and distant future, When Bees Last Whispered explores the effects of overpopulation and our responsibility to an exhausted planet. How easy is the decision to kill one to save billions?

Thursday, June 20th at 7:30
The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home
By Andrew Siañez-De La O | Directed By Tatiana Pandiani
Andrea and Mateo Ortiz have always seen their abuelo as a hero, but when an ancient Zapotec God reveals a dark family secret, the twins must journey back to the land of their ancestors to right a long forgotten wrong.

Saturday, June 22nd at 7:30
Office Comedy
By Sukari Jones | Directed By Tamilla Woodard
Office Comedy is a 9/11 office comedy. Its inspired by Sukaris experience working in Corporate America where The Empties tried to kill her. A play with music. (Also, it’s really a tragedy.)

Sunday, June 23rd at 3:30
Coop
By Sam Max | Directed By Mia Hull
Avery has spent her life stuck on the family farm, dreaming of the outside world. The ghost of her gold-toothed uncle won’t shut up, and her parents won’t stop licking a dead rabbit, so she hires a moonshine delivery boy to break her out.

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Spotlight on Toria Sterling: With this show, you get swept up in it in seconds

As we approach our final weekend of performances, we’re pleased to share our very last artist profile. Today we’re introducing you to Toria Sterling, our props master. Hear from Toria below and grab your tickets to our final performances of Playing Hot!

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Toria Sterling: Jaki and Kevin both worked on Good Men Wanted at New York Stage and Film two years ago. I was a prop intern at the time, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. It was not only a solid, and unique show, but had a profound impact on my gender journey.

PTC: What type of design do you do? What initially drew you to this type of design?

TS: Mostly puppets. I just like making things. Movies with practical effects attracted me at a young age (Jurassic park, the Dark Crystal, etc).

PTC: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

TS: I think the most important part of theater is escapism, and I am disappointed that a lot of shows don’t grab you right away, and take you to another world. With this show, you get swept up in it in seconds. I just want to help that happen for audiences.

PTC: Talk to us about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

TS: I have a strong interest in early film, and the 1920s. I consume everything that I can from that time. Learning about jazz has opened up so many new stories about how the world was. It fascinates me that film and music as we know it were both starting around the same time.

In addition to their work on Playing Hot, Toria is currently working with Michael Curry in Portland, Oregon (a dream job of their’s since high school!). You can follow them on Instagram at @puppetmatter and visit their website, www.puppetmatter.com. And don’t forget to snag those tickets to Playing Hot, before it’s too late!

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Spotlight on Haydee Zelideth: Capturing the spirit of the era

With just 6 performances to go before closing night (May 18!), we’re proud to continue to introduce you to the remarkable artists who are bringing Playing Hot to life. Today we introduce you to costume designer, Haydee Zelideth. Learn more from Haydee below, and snag your tickets to Playing Hot.

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Haydee Zelideth: I’ve worked with Jaki before and really enjoy our process and relationship, so I’m always down to play together. The piece itself was exciting to me because of 1) the live music aspect 2) the piece itself was engaging and the first time I read it I was reacting out loud (which is a good sign that I like something) 3) the story of Buddy Bolden is a fascinating one and one that I had known nothing about. The way the creatives really dig into his history and fold into it the context of jazz and how big of an influence it has had on music throughout the 20th and 21st century is very effective. Their dramaturgy and commitment to telling the story was apparent when first reading the text.

PTC: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

HZ: Buddy Bolden and his story. How easy it is for people of color and their achievements to be erased from historical records and how easy it is for their work and the effects of their work to be re-appropriated without due credit.

PTC: What type of design do you do? What initially drew you to this type of design?

HZ: Costumes – it’s a mix of everything I love. I’ve always sketched and made up stories growing up. I was part of the drama club in high school and did acting for a brief stint in college. I’ve always had an interest in clothes, history and art. I kind of stumbled into costume design and really fell in love with it – it’s a combination of everything I like. And no week is ever the same, so its never boring.

PTC: What has been your approach to bringing New Orleans to Midtown New York? What elements have been important to you to focus on? Any key areas of inspiration?

HZ: With any project I always focus on the dramaturgy of the piece first. What is the history of the place? What is the history of the characters? I started with those questions and began looking at images from turn of the century New Orleans. What was important was capturing the spirit of the era without being bogged down in the historical details of the clothing. It also had to be something that allowed actors to swiftly move between a wide range of characters. I loved figuring out what the voodoo parade was going to look like. In that process I found some great images from Mardi Gras during the early 1900s. Most of the looks from that era were pieced together with items that people had available in their homes – it had a crafty look but paired with such stark masks creates an eerie look.

PTC: If you there were to be an “untold true story” about your own life, what would be the subject? What would it be called?

HZ: Bag Lady  – What costume designers do is very much an untold true story. Clothes are deceivingly difficult to master. There’s so much work involved in bringing a show to life. There’s a lot of thinking, dreaming, researching, talking, schlepping, being a therapist, shopping, returning, looking at things, taping, sewing, crafting last minute, etc etc etc that happens. All of which involved carrying a lot of thing in bags! I remember one of my teachers, Jane Greenwood, likened being a costume designer to taking a vow.

Haydee is also currently working on a production of Pride & Prejudice with the Actors’ Shakespeare Project in Boston, on Mojada at the Public Theater, and on Monsoon Season with Rattlestick at the Edinburgh Fridge Festival. You can follow her on Instagram at @haydeezelideth and don’t forget to see her work up close at Playing Hot, playing now through May 18. Grab your tickets today!

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