Playwrights Melisa Tien and Megan Cohen Develop New Works at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts

New Dramatist playwright Melisa Tien and San Francisco-based Megan Cohen joined The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in residence this month to develop innovative stage works with the Academy's third year NY Company.

Melisa Tien's "Yellow Card Red Card" explores the lives of four female soccer players in a small Muslim town in Northern Cameroon as they prepare for a championship match. Megan Cohen's play "Truest" finds two sisters, smoking guns in hand, in a kitchen where they have just slain the iconic brothers of the fraternal drama "True West."

The new plays, starting performances November 29, 2016, are directed by Tamilla Woodard (Women's Project) and Jessica Holt (ALLIANCE THEATRE). Two recent works, "Partners" by Dorothy Fortenberry, directed by Ethan Heard (Berkshire Theatre Group), and "Blood Potato" by James Mcmanus, complete the new play series.

The 2016-2017 New York Company features the newest generation of dedicated and powerful actors, including Liam Armstrong, Julia Bostrom, Brett Bullard, Zania Cummings, Ziaphora Dakile, Alana DeGregorio, Connor Delves, James Evans, Alexia Hartman, Karen Johal, Quincie Lewis, Ava McCoy, Ryan Murnane, Nick Newling, Veronica Pomeroy and Eliza Shea.

About the American Academy of Dramatic Arts

Founded in 1884, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts is the first conservatory for actors in the English-speaking world. Since its inception, its purpose has remained constant: to provide students with the tools needed to make acting their profession. Having been regarded as the "Cradle to the Stars," the illustrious roster of alumni includes Cecil B. DeMille, Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Jessica Chastain, Danny DeVito, and Paul Rudd. Together, Academy alumni have earned 106 Oscar, 283 Emmy and 90 Tony nominations. For information on The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, visit, or for media inquiries, contact Emily Swan at 800-463-8990, ext. 138 or


Upcoming Shows at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts


By Megan Cohen

Directed by Jessica Holt

In "Truest," Sam Shepard meets Thelma and Louise when we find two sisters in a kitchen. Smoking guns in hand, they've just slain the iconic brothers of fraternal drama, True West. As these women chase their own uniquely twisted American dream in a landscape of canonical corpses, they dance an intricate psychological duet that leads us through a surreal terrain of wonder, danger, laughter and yearning. In this delightfully upsetting comic grapple by an emerging feminist playwright, we follow a pair of sisters on their brutal hunt in search of tenderness.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 3 p.m.

Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Friday, December 2, 2016 at 3 p.m.


By Dorothy Fortenberry

Directed by Ethan Heard

Clare has big plans with her best friend Ezra-starting a food truck, making him marry his boyfriend-until an unexpected windfall forces them to face how they truly feel about money and commitment. The play takes a witty, incisive look at two young couples struggling with personal finance, the meaning of marriage, and the deeply human capacity for self-sabotage, as they decipher the ongoing mystery of how to be an adult.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 3 p.m.

Friday, December 2, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 7 p.m.

"Yellow Card Red Card"

By Melissa Tien

Directed by Tamilla Woodard

In a small Muslim town in Northern Cameroon, four young soccer players prepare for a championship that will determine not only the future of the team, but the unique trajectory of each girl's life. Incorporating choreography inspired by the games and practices of a real-life Cameroonian girls team, the play attempts to blur the line between theater and sporting event.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Friday, December 9, 2016 at 3 p.m.

Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 7 p.m.

"Blood Potato"

By James Mcmanus

Directed by Jonathan Bolt

In the impoverished world of ex-steel town Donora, PA, three brothers make a blood oath to escape by any means necessary. But each brother and the girls they love are caught up in the meth world and struggling to get out. Will love and family be enough to save them?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 3 p.m.

Friday, December 9, 2016 at 7 p.m.

Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 3 p.m.


Reservations can be made at or by calling 800-463-8990. All performances take place at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts located at 120 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

About the Playwrights and Upcoming New Works

Megan Cohen has been called "a ruthless innovator" (SF Weekly); "highly engaging" (Huffington Post); "funny, erudite, and poignant" (Poetry Monthly); and is a Theater Bay Area "Eye On" Emerging Artist honoree. More than 80 productions of her scripts have popped up in theaters in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, and site-specifically in homes, libraries, bars, and on beaches. Fresh from new work development programs at Custom Made Theatre and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, she's thrilled to bring her script "Truest" to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Dorothy Fortenberry's work has been produced and developed by Arena Stage, Center REPertory Company, Geva Theatre Center and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as well as by Ars Nova, Chalk Repertory Theatre and The Management Theater Company. She is currently working on a commission for Yale Repertory Theatre about a children's book author. Fortenberry lives in Los Angeles, where she writes for the CW television series The 100 and is developing a one-hour drama series with Ry Russo-Young at Bravo. Fortenberry is a winner of the 2011 Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, a two-time finalist for the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, and holds an Master of Fine Arts. from the Yale School of Drama.

James Mcmanus is the author of eight plays: "Love on San Pedro," "Dry Bones," "The Friendly Tavern," "Dorothy 6," "Bulldog Whiskey," "Underground," "Cherry Smoke" and "Blood Potato." His plays have been developed and performed at Cornerstone Theater Company, LAByrinth Theater Company, Working Theater, Apothecary Theatre Company, The Clockwork Theatre, Glass Umbrella Creative (Sydney), Revolt Theatre (Melbourne), Gurnet Theatre Project, The Kennedy Center, Round House Theatre, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Barebones Productions, Irish Repertory Theatre, Son of Semele, The Side Project Theatre Company, The Lark Play Development Center, The Inkwell and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. McManus was the recipient of the Princess Grace Award in Playwriting for "Cherry Smoke," which is published by Samuel French. He recently received the 2014 Helen Merrill Playwriting Award and is a proud member of New Dramatists.

Melisa Tien is a playwright, lyricist, screenwriter, and trained chef.? She is the author of the plays "Yellow Card Red Card," "Back of the House," "Fantastic Heliotherapy" and "Familium Vulgare." She is a co-author of the collaboratively written plays "We Play for the Gods" and "Jackson Heights 3AM."?"Yellow Card Red Card" will receive a workshop production at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts on December 6-10, 2016. In addition to being over the moon as a member of New Dramatists (Class of 2022), Tien is a 2016 Fellow in Playwriting/Screenwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a recipient of the 2016 Theater Masters Visionary Playwright award/commission, and a 2016 Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. She was a member of the 2010-2012 Women's Project Lab. She has presented work at the Great Plains Theatre Conference, Women Playwrights International Conference, and the National Asian American Theatre Conference and Festival. She has co-facilitated Rising Circle Theater Collective's writers group and taught playwriting through Center for Talented Youth, The 52nd Street Project, and Columbia University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA, an Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University, and a Culinary Diploma from the French Culinary Institute.


Jonathan Bolt made his Broadway acting debut in the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Look Homeward, Angel" and has since appeared on Broadway and Off-Broadway, on television and in films. Bolt has worked extensively at major regional theatres, playing leading roles in more than 100 productions and directing more than 30, including world premieres by Arthur Miller ("The Archbishop's Ceiling") and Paul Zindel ("The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds"). At The Academy, he directed the premiere of his own play, "Dancing in the Dark," based on his Cold War experience as the first American to direct a Communist Bulgarian theatre company. Bolt's other plays include: "Threads" (Circle Repertory Theatre); "To Culebra" and "The Whore and the Empress" (Actors Theatre of Louisville); "Eleanor, An American Love Story" (Ford's Theatre); "Glimmerglass" (Goodspeed Opera House), and six plays and musicals for young audiences produced by Theatreworks USA. He is a recipient of playwriting grants from the New York State Creative Artist Program, the Pilgrim Project, the Berilla Kerr Award and The New York Drama League. Bolt is presently the Co-Director of The New York Academy Company.

Ethan Heard is a director of plays, musicals and opera. He is Founding Co-Artistic Director of Heartbeat Opera, a new company that reimagines classics and distills them to their essence. Most recently, he directed a workshop of Weill's "The Seven Deadly Sins" (Heartbeat) and assisted writer/director Steve Cosson on The Civilians' "The Great Immensity" (Public Theater). While earning his Master of Fine Arts at Yale School of Drama, he directed "Sunday in the Park" with George, Julius Caesar, Lottie in the Late Afternoon, Rodeo and Eligible Receivers. He also served as Artistic Director of Yale Cabaret where he directed "Pierrot Lunaire," "All This Noise," "The Future Gone Out of Business," and "Lovesong," and co-created "Basement Hades" and "Trannequin!," a new musical. Other directing includes "The Cat and the Canary" (Berkshire Theatre Group); "L'incoronazione di Poppea" and "The Producers" (Princeton University); "The Gay Ivy" (Dixon Place); "Proof" and "Iphigenia and Other Daughters" (Santa Fe Theater Festival); "Ardo Ardo" and "L'Orfeo" (Yale Baroque Opera Project); and "Pullman WA" and "in a word" (Williamstown Workshop). Assistant directing includes "Our Town" (Nicholas Martin); "Pregnancy Pact" (Mark Brokaw); "Broke-ology" (Thomas Kail); "Acis and Galatea" (Gilbert Blin); "The Judy Show" (Amanda Charlton); and "Amahl and the Night Visitors" (Annette Jolles). Heard received his Bachelor of Arts in Theater Studies from Yale College. He won the Sledge Prize for Performing Arts and toured the world with the Yale Whiffenpoofs, singing more than 200 concerts in 25 countries. He has taught theater at Princeton University and Friends Seminary and is a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Jessica Holt is a theater director who specializes in new and contemporary plays and boldly reimagining the classics. She is currently the Phil Kent Directing Fellow at the ALLIANCE THEATRE in Atlanta, Georgia, and a recipient of the 2016 National Directors Fellowship with the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, National New Plays Network, the Kennedy Center and SDCF. Recent projects include "Bright Half Life" by Tanya Barfield at the Magic Theatre, "Significant Other" by Joshua Harman at Actor's Express in Atlanta, a workshop of "Truest" by Megan Cohen at Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, and Lindsey Ferrentino's "Ugly Lies the Bone" at the ALLIANCE THEATRE (September 2016). In San Francisco, Holt was an Associate Artist at the Magic Theater where she directed Act 5 of Taylor Mac's five-hour epic "The Lily's Revenge," associate directed the revival of Claire Chafee's "Why We Have a Body," and directed the staged reading of "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later." She served as the Artistic Director of the Bay One Acts (BOA) Festival for three years. While there, she developed, produced and directed new plays by local playwrights including Christopher Chen, Antony Clarvoe, Megan Cohen and Bennett Fisher. She also directed projects at Cutting Ball Theater, Boxcar Theater, New Conservatory Theater Center, Playwrights Foundation, and PianoFight. Jessica co-founded the theater ensemble Threshold Theater where she developed and directed the world premiere "Terroristka" by Rebecca Bella. She received an MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama in 2015.

Tamilla Woodard is a theatre director who works both nationally and internationally. She is co-founder of PopUp Theatrics, a partnership creating site impacting theatrical events around the world and in collaboration with international theatre artists. Currently, she is serving as the Artistic Director of The Five Boroughs/One City Project, a multi-year initiative of The Working Theater. The project will support the commissioning and development of 5 Playwright/Director teams working in collaborations and creating theatrical works in response to working class communities in all 5 boroughs. She is a current Time Warner Directing Fellow at the Women's Project Theater Lab, a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop, alumnus of The Lincoln Center Directors Lab and artistic affiliate with New Georges. She graduated from The Yale School of Drama's Acting program and is the recipient of The Charles Bowden Award from New Dramatists and The Josephine Abady Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women. Her work has been presented and developed at the Working Theater, NYTW, New Georges, HERE, The Lark, The Actors Theatre of Louisville, PS122, DR 2, The Culture Project, Urban Stages, Dance Theatre Workshop, The Kitchen Theatre and for festivals and theater's around the US and Internationally. She has also directed, taught and facilitated workshops at Colleges and Universities around the country, notably: New York University Tisch Graduate Acting, Suny-Purchase, Pace University, Fordham University, University of Connecticut, Webster Conservatory of Theatre and Queens College. This past season, her work includes: "Long Distance Affair," an international collaboration for live Skype performance for PopUP Theatrics with editions in Romania, Argentina, Mexico, Scotland and the US; "INSIDE" (PopUP Theatrics, Bucharest, Romania and Madrid, Spain); "Cherry Smoke" by James Mcmanus, The Working Theater, NYC; and a workshop of PopUP's newest immersive concept, "Broken City: Lower East Side." Other recent work includes "La Ruta," by Ed Cardona Jr (Working Theater, NYC- NY Times Year List of Notable productions).

Next on Stage

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