Keen's 2013-14 Playwrights Lab to Feature New Works by Jessica Dickey, Gabe McKinley and Qui Nguyen

By: Dec. 16, 2013
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The Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning Keen Company today announced the inaugural Keen Playwrights Lab. Under the leadership of Mark Armstrong, Keen's Director of New Work, each playwright will be developing a new full-length play inspired by Keen Company's mission - sincere story telling with heart, honesty and hope. The collaborative and supportive environment brings together three acclaimed American Playwrights in mid-career to develop new work and facilitate that work's exposure to a greater audience. The program will culminate in three public readings in April, 2014. More details TBA. Keen Playwrights Lab made possible in part thanks to a Creative Space Grant with A.R.T./New York. This season's participants are Jessica Dickey, Gabe McKinley and Qui Nguyen.

"I am thrilled to have my friend and colleague Mark Armstrong lead the inaugural Keen Playwrights Lab. Mark is a passionate and smart advocate for new work and I am grateful he has joined the Keen family to lead our new play initiatives. While Keen has excelled in exploring our theatrical past, I am excited to see how contemporary writers speak to our mission of sincerity and hope. Gabe, Jessica and Qui are all writers I have greatly admired and I look forward to seeing what kind of worlds they dream up," said Keen Artistic Director Jonathan Silverstein.

Armstrong added "Keen Company has always been a friend to playwrights. From our early productions of new work by David Auburn, Keith Reddin and John Belluso to our unique Keen Teens program, which has commissioned and produced over 20 new works during the past seven seasons, we've always looked for opportunities to work with the great writers of our time. With the addition of the Playwrights Lab, we're able to work with three writers over the course of our season to develop new full-length plays. Jessie, Gabe and Qui are incredible writers with an abundance of Keen's signature values-honesty, heart and hope. I can't wait to see the result of our work together."

Jessica Dickey is an actor and playwright, known for her one-woman show The Amish Project, which has been produced around the country and the world, including at the Cherry Lane Theater, Rattlestick Theater, American Theater Company (Chicago), City Theatre (Pittsburgh), Walnut Street (Philadelphia) and Mo'Olelo (San Diego). Her play Charles Ives Take Me Home completed a successful run at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and was nominated for the Susan Blackburn Prize. A new play about Civil War re-enactors, Row After Row, will premiere at the Women's Project in January 2014. Her work has been developed by Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, Echo Theatre Company, People's Light and Theatre, and many others. Other awards and recognitions include the Sewanee Writers Conference Walter Dakin Fellowship, a PONY (Playwrights of New York Fellowship) Nomination and Writer-in-Residence at New Harmony Project. As an actor, she appeared in the Broadway production of Wit (Manhattan Theatre Club), Hit The Wall (Barrow Street) and Proof (McCarter).

Qui Nguyen is a Brooklyn-based playwright, screenwriter, and Co-Founder of the OBIE Award-winning Vampire Cowboys. His work is known for its innovative mix of pop-culture, stage violence, and racially diverse characters. The Chicago Tribune recently praised him as "a refreshing, break-the-rules writer" and the Village Voice commended his company for being "New York's Best Army of Geeks." Qui's plays include She Kills Monsters (The Flea); Soul Samurai and The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent (Vampire Cowboys and Ma-Yi Theater); Krunk Fu Battle Battle (East West Players); Aliens Versus Cheerleaders (Keen Teens); and the critically acclaimed Vampire Cowboys productions of Alice in Slasherland, Fight Girl Battle World, Men of Steel, and Living Dead in Denmark. He's currently working on two new musicals: War is F**king Awesome (developed with Sundance Theatre Lab) and Sam Versus Fear (commissioned by Children's Theatre Company, Minneapolis). Qui is a resident artist of New Dramatists, the Playwrights Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and an alumnus of Youngblood. Vampire Cowboys holds the unique distinction of being the only professional theatre organization to be officially sponsored by NY Comic Con.

Gabe McKinley's play CQ/CX premiered at the Atlantic Theater Company. His work has been produced and developed by companies nationally and internationally, including Atlantic Theater Company, Naked Angels, Premiere Stages, The Old Vic, American Theater Company, Ensemble Studio Theater, The LARK and Red Dog Squadron. His plays include The Kitchen Sink Play, Welcome Home Rock Rogers, Funny, Floodplains and the critically acclaimed Extinction and CQ/CX (John Gassner Outer Critics Award nomination). His short play, The Grave, was the winner of the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival. Gabe is the recipient of the 2011 Samuel French/New School for Drama Award for Excellence in Playwriting. His work is published by Samuel French.

Keen's spring show, Middle Of The Night, directed by Jonathan Silverstein, will begin performances February 11th, with Opening Night set for March 4th. From three time Academy Award winning screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky (Network, Marty and The Hospital) comes Middle Of The Night, a comedy about a May-December romance in 1950's New York City. He is an older Jewish widower and she is a young gentile bride of another man. When they meet and fall in love, their relationship throws their disapproving families into a tizzy. This long lost gem from "the poet laureate of the romantically underprivileged" (Theatre Arts) explores "average people...fumbling for the comfort of sheer companionship" (New York Times). Performances will be at The Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues) and will be Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm; and Sunday matinees at 3pm. Tickets will be $61.25 (plus a $1.25 Restoration Fee). To purchase tickets for Middle Of The Night visit or call 212/239-6200.

For more information about Keen Company and their programs, visit

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