LaGuardia Performing Arts Center presents ROUGH DRAFT FESTIVAL: A WINDOW INTO NEW YORK

By: Mar. 22, 2017
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This year's Rough Draft Festival at LaGuardia Performing Arts features six new plays that are in the pre-production stage of development. Each of the plays has gone through readings and workshops in the past and the writers Melis Aker, Scott Barrow, Leila Buck, Kevin Doyle, Joey Merlo, Kyoung Park and their plays are ready for the next step.

This year's plays offer a wide range of themes and are as diverse in form as they are in content. In Manar, by Melis Aker, the disappearance of a son threatens to rupture the fragile fabric that connects the lives of the people around him. The Boy Cometh To The Mountain, by Joey Merlo, is also about the fringes of society and focuses on a blue-collar family living on the edge of a Brooklyn cemetery. Political and social issues get addressed in Kyoung Park's PILLOWTALK, which asks: can queer communities of color truly celebrate marriage equality in times of #BlackLivesMatter? and Scott Barrow's Full of Grace, a docudrama that explores the intersection of faith and sexual identity through first person accounts of LGBT Catholics. The nature of American democracy also comes into question with THE A?TS, by Kevin Doyle, investigates the history of public funding for the arts in the United States and is based upon transcripts from debates in the U.S. Congress and American Dreams, by Leila Buck, a game show where the audience picks their next fellow citizen in a participatory performance about what it means to be(come) American.

"The Rough Draft Festival is a celebration of artists/organizations and their work under development," says Lab Director and Festival Curator Handan Ozbilgin. "Rough Draft features a wide array of artists whose work is at various levels of development. RD Festival provides stipends and space for artists to develop their work-in-progress. I am so pleased to work with these amazing artists on the Rough Draft Festival's 4th edition, and hope you'll join us to see their exciting new work."

Performance Schedule:
Monday Mar 24 - Apr 8
Performances at 7PM

Visit for details

Location: Rough Draft Festival is performed at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center at LaGuardia Community College 31-10 Thomson Ave. E-241 in Long Island City. 7 train to 33 St / Rawson St.

More info at:

Tickets: $10

Full of Grace: Journeys of LGBT Catholics
Written by Scott Barrow
Directed by Kelly O'Donnell
Performances: Fri Mar 24, Sat Mar 25, Mon Mar 27 at 7PM in the Little Theatre
Journeys of LGBT Catholics is a docudrama that explores the intersection of faith and sexual identity through the first person accounts of LGBT Catholics. The play is composed entirely of interviews from over 50 individuals including clergy, religious and lay people spanning in age from 19-85 from across the United States. The play explore themes such as inclusion and exclusion, self-acceptance and shame, integrity, family, relationships, and marriage as well as individual experiences of God and Church. These are the untold stories of disciples seeking a place at the table and the fullness of life to which God calls them.

Written by Melis Akar
Directed by Isabelle Kettle
Performances: Tues Mar 28 and Wed Mar 29 at 7PM in the Little Theatre
In Dearborn MI, racial tension and Islamophobia run high. When ISIS publishes an execution video online, A Mother is convinced, through the eyes of the veiled executioner that she recognizes her missing son, whose disappearance threatens to rupture the fragile fabric that connects the lives of people around him. This exploration of grief, paranoia and cultural segregation weaves its characters' memories into their present-day lives as they feel trapped in the trenches of mourning, searching for tangible resolution in an age of digital empathy.

The Boy Cometh to the Mountain
Written by Joey Merlo
Directed by Taylor Haven Holt
Performances: Thurs Mar 30, Fri Mar 31, Sat Apr 1 in the Mainstage Theatre
Playwright Joey Merlo hilariously and passionately explores the complexities of family and faith in The Boy Cometh to the Mountain, a new play about a blue-collar family living on the edge of a Brooklyn cemetery. With Death as their muse the Rebera family dances, prays and argues their way through a Sunday that proves itself to be anything but ordinary.

Written and directed by Kyoung Park
Performances: Tues Apr 4, Wed Apr 5, Thurs Apr 6 at 7PM in the Little Theatre
PILLOWTALK is an intimate two-character drama centered around Sam and Buck, a newlywed interracial gay couple. Using inventive staging incorporating elements of ballet's pas de deux, PILLOWTALK examines the evolving values of gay marriage and asks: can queer communities of color truly celebrate marriage equality in times of #BlackLivesMatter?

American Dreams & Arabian Nights
Written by Leila Buck
Directed by Tamilla Woodard
Performances: Thurs Apr 6 and Fri Apr 7 at 7PM in the Mainstage Theatre
In American Dreams and Arabian Nights, you are invited into the audience of "American Dreams", America's most popular game/show, where you will decide which of three contestants will receive the ultimate prize: citizenship to "the greatest nation on earth."

Weaving storytelling, playful audience engagement, and current debates about immigration and more, this participatory performance-in-process asks how we negotiate between fear, trust, security and freedom: what stories we choose to believe - and how those choices come to shape who we are.


Written, directed and designed by Kevin Doyle

Dramaturg: Fannina Waubert de Puiseau

Designers: Jon Bernson, Mayra Castro, Mike McGee

Performed by Mike Carlsen, Josh Edelmann, Sauda Jackson, Eric Magnus, Katey Parker, and April Shannon Sweeney
Performances: Sat Apr 8 at 7PM in the Mainstage Theatre
THE A?TS is a three-part work of interdisciplinary theatre under development from the Brooklyn-based theatre company, Sponsored By Nobody. The project investigates and deconstructs the history of public funding for the arts in the United States and contrasts it with events in the European Union, where threats to public subsidy have manifested in recent years. THE A?TS is based upon transcripts from debates and hearings held in the U.S. Congress from 1963-1965 and 1989-1994; in addition to interviews conducted with arts leaders and citizens throughout the United States and Europe from 2012-2016. During their 2017 Impact Residency, Sponsored By Nobody will focus on Parts One and Two of THE A?TS by condensing transcripts to revolve around two specific dates: October 26, 1963 and May 19, 1989. The former marks the first public hearings held in Congress on public funding of the arts. The latter marks the formal start of a backlash against arts funding, essentially beginning what we now call "the Culture Wars." For more information on THE A?TS,

2017 IMPACT ARTIST IN RESIDENCE: Kevin Doyle/Sponsored By Nobody

Melis Aker (writer: Manar)
Melis Aker is an actor, writer and musician from Ankara, Turkey. A few of her acting credits include Love in Afghanistan by Charles Randolph-Wright at Arena Stage for which she also did a reading at the Roundabout, Soldier X by Rehana Lew Mirza at the Ma-Yi theatre lab, We Live in Cairo by Patrick & Daniel Lazour for the 2016 NAMT Festival at New World Stages, Opium by Susan Mosakowski, Pussy Riot and Visible from Four States by Barbara Hammond at New Dramatists, Tsunami by Jalila Baccar at the 2014 PEN World Voices Festival, My Gay Roommate: the web-series (season 3), and The Blacklist: Redemption (S1E3) premiering on NBC. As a musician, she released her EP "Dirt" via Young Pals Music, which was picked up by podcast radio MaxFm in Turkey, and her single "The Little Prince" under the music collective AKER, which she co-found with Alessio Romano from Studio 42 Brooklyn. Melis has performed in venues ranging from Pianos NYC, Rockwood Music Hall, The Bitter End, Leftfield NYC to Shapeshifter Lab BK. As a writer, her play Manar was accepted to Golden Thread Productions' 2017 ReOrient Festival in San Francisco, and was recently a part of Silk Road Rising's Silk Road Readers cycle. She is thrilled to be a part of LPAC's Rough Draft Festival, and sends heartfelt gratitude to her folks in Turkey, Handan, Catherine Coray, David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, Kelly Stuart, Chuck Mee, her wonderful Columbia tribe, Mona Mansour, Hadi Tabbal and Leila Buck from her MEA writers group, and the entire Manar family for letting her be a part of their lives. Melis holds a B.A. in Drama/Philosophy from Tufts University and an acting certificate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She is currently a 2018 M.F.A. candidate in Playwriting at Columbia University.

Scott Barrow (writer: Full of Grace)
Scott Barrow is a company member of Tectonic Theatre Project, an Artistic Associate at the Martha's Vineyard Playhouse, and a board member and the Director of Education for Brooklyn's Stages on the Sound. Scott works as an actor, director, playwright and fight director in and around New York where he also teaches film-making, playwriting, and Shakespeare. Scott has been working with Tectonic Theatre Project since 2005 as an actor in 33 Variations (starring Jane Fonda), The Laramie Project, The Laramie Project Epilogue; Ten Years Later, The Dead Man's Curve, and as a certified teacher of the company's Moment Work. Scott got his MFA in Acting from Brandeis University. Another play; "Outcasts -the lepers of Penikese
Island" is in development.

Leila Buck (writer: American Dreams & Arabian Nights)
Leila Buck is a writer, performer and intercultural educator-facilitator who has lived and worked in 22 countries and across the U.S. Writer/Performer: Hkeelee (Talk to Me) - Mosaic Theater at Arena Stage; Culture Project - WCS; El Teatro - Tunis; Theatre Gemmayze - Beirut); In the Crossing (Public Theater New Work Now!; Culture Project -WCS); Hanan's story (UN, NY/Geneva); Actor: Off-Broadway: Aftermath (New York Theatre Workshop/Tour -Drama League nomination); Regional: Scorched (Wilma Theater-Barrymore Award). Publication/Press: Innovation in Five Acts; Etching Our Own Image: Voices from the Arab American Art Movement; Four Arab-American Plays. Member: EWG- Public Theater; Usual Suspect - NYTW. Adjunct faculty: Participatory Performance and Civic Engagement-NYU.

Kevin Doyle (writer / director: THE A?TS)
Kevin Doyle is a graduate of the Drama Studies program at Purchase College-SUNY. His plays have been translated into French and Romanian, while receiving productions in the United States and European Union. He is the recipient of the Thornton Wilder Fellowship at The MacDowell Colony; the Rosette Lamont Residency for Emerging Playwrights at The Corporation of Yaddo; a Cultural Exchange Fund Award from APAP/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; a Saari Residence Fellowship at the Kone Foundation (Finland); and was an Artist-in-Residence at The Watermill Center. In 2016, his work has been supported by grant awards from the Bicentennial Swedish-American Fund / Svenska Instituet (Stockholm), CEC ArtsLink (New York), The Dramatists' Guild Fund, and the Asian Cultural Council (New York). In addition to his role with SBN, Doyle pursues his own independent projects at the intersection of dance, film, theatre and the visual arts. Recent work: THUIS: The First Season of Frank with Belgian graphic artist Evelin Brosi as part of the LIVE WORKS Performance Act Awardprogram at Centrale Fies (Italy); these images are written on my body with choreographer Kajsa Sandström at MDT (Stockholm); excavations at DasArts (Amsterdam); Les années amputées at Nuages en pantalon (Québec City); and THE POSITION at Teatru Godot (Bucharest).

His full-length play -- "when after all, it was you and me (or, the genocide play)" -- which examines repetitive patterns in the failed foreign policy responses of Western governments to instances of genocide, received an Honorable Mention for the 2016 Saroyan/Paul Human Rights Playwriting Prize in Los Angeles, CA. During 2016, he spent two months in Bangladesh working directly with garment factory workers who survived the 2012 Tazreen Factory Fire to research a new interdisciplinary theatre-film project that explores parallels between Tazreen and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York. During February 2017, he will premiere a new installation-performance in Zagreb, exploring the work of late Croatian artist Željko Zorica.

The author of three screenplays and twelve plays, including STYROFOAM and CONSOLIDATION -- his writing has been supported by residencies at Playa (OR), the Edward F. Albee Foundation (NY), the Jentel Foundation (WY), Willapa Bay AiR (WA), the Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology (MI), Escape To Create (FL), Wooda in North Cornwall (U.K.), and the Fundación Vaparaiso in Mojácar, Spain. Doyle is in production on a documentary film set in Sweden that explores the daily lives of Iraqi refugees in the suburban town of Södertälje, He is currently developing an original documentary series for European and American television that explores cultural exchange between European cities and their identically-named American counterparts. His plays are available for purchase on Amazon and at Indie Theatre Now.

Doyle plays in a hypothetical band, The Mirrornauts, and works as an impromptu DJ. His writing on arts funding issues and politics has appeared in the French journal Actes du Théâtre, the Dutch magazine diggit, and at the Kone Foundation (Finland). He wishes to thank the French dramatist Michel Vinaver, for his continued dialogue and encouragement.

Isabelle Kettle (director: Manar)
Originally from London, Isabelle is pursuing an MFA in Theatre Directing at Columbia University School of the Arts, having previously received a degree in History from Cambridge University. She also co-founded Footfall Theatre, a company dedicated to exploring gender and the female voice through reworkings of classical texts. Since moving to New York, Isabelle has developed her interest in new play development, and continues to strive for interdisciplinary work that creates unexpected theatrical experiences. Previous projects include adaptations of Shakespeare's 'King Lear' and 'As You Like It', Angela Carter's short story collection 'The Bloody Chamber', and 'Nina Simone: As of Now' by Nako Adodoadji. Current projects include a production of Antigone that opens in April. Isabelle is delighted to work on this project, with this team, and hopes to see the play continue its journey forward.

Joey Merlo (writer: The Boy Cometh to the Mountain)
Joey Merlo is a poet, actor and playwright who has worked all over the world including Ghana, where he completed a documentary on the illegality of homosexuality called Voices and Greece, where he took part in a collaborative residency that focused on creating public art installations and theater with both Athenian activists and students. He has worked with the Westport Country Playhouse, the Lark, Dixon Place and contributes to Joey lives in Washington Heights and is the host of Siren Den, a monthly showcase for artists at Smalls Jazz Club in the West Village.

Kyoung H. Park (writer: Pillowtalk)
Kyoung H. Park was born in Santiago, Chile and is the first Korean playwright from Latin America to be produced and published in the United States. Kyoung is author of Sex and Hunger, disOriented, Walkabout Yeolha, Tala, Pillowtalk, and many short plays including Mina, which is published in Seven Contemporary Plays from the Korean Diaspora in the Americas by Duke University Press. Kyoung writes and directs his own work as Artistic Director of Kyoung's Pacific Beat, a peacemaking theater company, based in Brooklyn, New York. Currently, he is a Field Leadership Fund Fellow, founding member of The Sol Project, member of the Ma-Yi Theater Writer's Lab, New York Theater Workshop Usual Suspect, Soho Theatre's Writer's Hub, and serves in The Dramatist Guild's Devised Theater Committee, Performance Project @ University Settlement Advisory Board, and Indie Theater Fund. Fellowships: Edward Albee Foundation, Theater of the Oppressed (Brazil), Target Margin Theater Inst. for Collaborative Theater-Making; grants: Arvon Foundation (UK), GK Foundation (South Korea), Foundation for Contemporary Arts, TCG Global Connections, Princess Grace Special Projects; 2010 UNESCO Aschberg-Laureate (Paris). MFA: Playwriting (Columbia University, Dean's Fellow).

Tamilla Woodard (director: American Dreams & Arabian Nights)
Tamilla is co-founder of PopUp Theatrics, a partnership creating site specific and immersive productions and collaborations around the world. She is a past Time Warner Directing Fellow at the Women's Project Theater, a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop, alumnus of The Lincoln Center Director's Lab and former Audrey Fellow at New Georges. She graduated from The Yale School of Drama's Acting program and is the recipient of The Josephine Abady Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women and The Charles Bowden Award from New Dramatists.

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