Town Stages Announces Inaugural Sokoloff Arts Fellows

Town Stages Announces Inaugural Sokoloff Arts Fellows

Town Stages announces the 2018 slate of recipients of the annual Sokoloff Arts Fellowship:

Jessica Anderson (with Stefanie Izzo, Alex Kocheva, Amy Stewart, and the Astoria Music Project), Caps Lock Theatre (Mariah MacCarthy, Melissa Lusk, Leta Tremblay), Joanna Carpenter, Matt Cox (with Kristin McCarthy Parker, Stephen Stout, and Colin Waitt), Ephrat Asherie Dance, Esperance Theater Company (Katie Hartke, Charlie Murphy, Ryan Quinn), Jono Freedrix, Jason Jacobs, Matthew Jellison, Christine Toy Johnson, Hyeyoung Kim and Shoshana Greenberg, Steven Kopp, Yan Li, Made with Sass (Samantha Slater), Jessie Mahon, MAWU, MelimelL Digital Art Design, Rebecca Odorisio, Pocket Universe (Alyssa May Gold), Charlotte Purser, Richard Pictures Presents (David Hilder and Dan McCoy), Ripening (Vanessa Walters, and Brian Gonzalez aka Taxiplasm), Andy Scott, Shallow Graves(Jenny Lester and Juliana Jurenas), Crystal Skillman, The Long Table (David Loewy, Noah Reece, Greg Taubman, Jocelyn Vammer), The Rigano Songbook (David and Paul Rigano), Jamila Youngstedt.

TOWN is home to this unique Fellowship Program for artists, entrepreneurs, writers, content creators, movers, shakers, and makers of all kinds. In partnership with Sokoloff Arts (501c3), the program is part residency, part incubator, and part home base: offering the ultimate creative freedom to grow. An application-based program, the Fellowship offers free access to shared spaces, rehearsal/performance/event space subsidies, and the opportunity to be a part of a shared creative community, working together under one roof.

"I am so proud to be developing this necessary program at Town," said Chie Morita, Deputy Director at Town Stages and Coordinator of the Fellowship Program. "Seemingly simple needs like a quiet space to write, a spot for a designer brainstorm that isn't a coffee shop, and a central meeting point for open and honest conversations are the building blocks for community and collaboration. We often see Fellowships as grants of space or time towards a singular vision, but I want us to build an atmosphere in which we share in a greater creative resource, our fellow artists."

Robin Sokoloff, Executive Director of Town Stages adds, "Over the years, countless local innovators have expressed their desire for more freedom, flexibility, and feedback as they work. Now, after an extraordinary effort on all fronts to secure and transform a bigger facility, we can't wait to answer the call for space and support. Designed and heralded by Ms. Morita, the Fellowship Program codifies these offerings under our new roof."

Town Stages (Robin Sokoloff, Executive Director) is located in the heart of Tribeca. TOWN is New York's premier venue to celebrate, collaborate and put on a show.A new female-driven cultural arts institution and venue space, Town Stages is a state-of-the-art, flexible performance and event space that can support the entire lifecycle of New York's hallmark industries. With a stunning 9,000 square foot storefront facility, TOWN provides world-class cultural experiences and opportunities for all: from civic to corporate, tech to theater.With a Mainstage, a Cabaret Lounge, and a multi-use event space with a capacity of 225, Town Stages offers much-needed space and production resources for businesses, arts organizations, and families. TOWN boasts ticketed performances and curated community programing, from performance art to dance to theatre, and is also available for fashion shows, film shoots, weddings, and beyond. For more information, visit

Sokoloff Arts (501c3) is an emerging cultural institution providing inspired space, prospective, and opportunity for cutting edge events in all sectors of The Arts, Corporate, Civic, and Cultural life in New York City. Led by a team of women from diverse backgrounds and artistic expressions, Sokoloff Arts works to provide viable and safe space to congregate, strives to promote cross-cultural community engagement, and blends the arts and business to create sustainable solutions to social and financial inequalities. The organization assists young creators with not only space, but resource generation, production, and community. To address the overwhelming demand for hi-tech, flexible, and affordable performance and event space in New York City, Sokoloff Arts is building Town Stages. To learn more, visit


Jessica Anderson (with Stefanie Izzo, Alex Kocheva, Amy Stewart, and the Astoria Music Project)

Jessica has been an active pianist, teacher and vocal collaborator in New York City since 2011. Before relocating to New York, Jessica Anderson was employed by Roosevelt University where she served as a vocal coach and rehearsal pianist. She completed her Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance from the same institution where she studied solo repertoire with Dr. Winston Choi and collaborative with Dr. Dana Brown. While attending Roosevelt, she was active as both a soloist and collaborator, featured in their opera productions, scenes, multiple chamber groups, many vocal recitals and solo performances. While earning her Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville she studied with Dr. Linda Perry.

Caps Lock Theatre (Mariah MacCarthy, Melissa Lusk, Leta Tremblay)

Art-wives Mariah MacCarthy (book/lyrics) and Leta Tremblay (director) run Caps Lock Theatre together. Their collaborations have been called "a lot of fun" by The New York Times, nominated for multiple awards, and presented at venues from the Cincinnati Fringe Festival to the Obie-winning Ensemble Studio Theatre. Melissa Lusk (lyrics/music) is a Brooklyn-based composer, mother, legal secretary, and member of the band Teen Girl Scientist Monthly. She is one of the original creators of feminist pop concert "Baby No More Times." Favorite writing credits include ...things i found on craigslist (music and selected lyrics) and l(y)re (music and lyrics).

Joanna Carpenter

Joanna Carpenter is an actor, singer, creator, director, and producer based in New York City. An outspoken advocate for equality and critic of sexism and racism, she works to find ways to channel her feelings through art. She has produced a number of benefit concerts to support organizations vital to our community, such as Planned Parenthood and the Hetrick-Martin Institute. Joanna most recently screened her directorial debut film Untitled at Town Stages, documenting and recreating various real-life incidents of harassment and assault. She hopes that this film can serve alongside the current socio-political climate as a conversation-starter, with the belief that change CAN happen, that women CAN be viewed as equals, not things or less-than or sex objects.

Matt Cox (with Kristin McCarthy Parker, Stephen Stout, and Colin Waitt)

Matt Cox is a playwright, actor, improviser, and former comic book retail associate based in New York City. His play Puffs Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years At A Certain School Of Magic & Magic is currently playing Off-Broadway at New World Stages. Other work includes: Kapow-i GoGo, Happy Little Trees: A Bobyssey, Cool Chefs Jr., and The Kapow-i GoGo Holiday Special. He authored the radio play El Hombre Bovino for WNYC's The Greene Space. His work has been produced at New World Stages, The Elektra Theater, The PIT, The Tank, and The Flea Theater, among other places. He is a director for The Story Pirates.

Ephrat Asherie Dance

Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie (Dancer), a 2016 Bessie Award Winner for Innovative Achievement in Dance, is a New York City based bgirl, dancer and choreographer. As artistic director of Ephrat Asherie Dance (EAD), she has presented work at Jacob's Pillow, FiraTarrega and New York Live Arts, among others. Ephrat has received numerous awards to support her work including a National Dance Project Award from NEFA, a Mondo Cane! Commission from Dixon Place and an Extended Life Residency from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Ephrat has taught at Wesleyan University and is on faculty at Broadway Dance Center.

Esperance Theater Company (Katie Hartke, Charlie Murphy, Ryan Quinn)

Esperance is an NYC-based theater company founded in 2015 by Ryan Quinn, Charlie Murphy, and Katie Hartke. Previous productions in NYC include Twelfth Night and Youth & Ambition, and workshops of The Canada Lee Project and The Native Son Project, in collaboration with playwright Mona Z. Smith and the Paramount Hudson Valley Arts. Inspired by Shakespeare, "Esperance" is a word that appears a few times throughout the canon: it is defined as "hope" or "expectation". For us this means a constant reaching toward renewal, development, artistic excellence, and ultimately a stronger connection to our audience.

Jono Freedrix

Jono Freedrix is a writer & director best known for The Fluid Trilogy, a series of dark and twisted female-driven comedies that has screened in over 30 film festivals, winning several best comedy awards. The series is made up of three short films: "Bloody Mary," "Sucklepump," & "Bun in the Oven," and has been described as "transcendent absurdist humor" grounded in female empowerment. Jono was born in Vancouver where he became president of The Virtual Stage, a multi award-winning film & theater company. He moved to Brooklyn in 2013 where he makes short films through his company Super Twisted Productions. He's currently working on a new feature film.

Jason Jacobs

Jason Jacobs is a New York-based director, writer, and teaching artist. His original musical Miss Blanche Tells It All was seen at the 2017 New York Musical Festival. Recent directing include a co-adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin at Pittsburgh Playhouse, Lavender Songs at Pangea and Subprime at Jersey City Theatre Center. His play Another Horatio Alger Story was presented at Pride Plays and Film's Gay Play Fest 2016. Jason is a member of Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, a Master Teaching Artist for Roundabout Theatre, and Associate of SDC. He received his BA from Yale and MFA from Columbia.

Matthew Jellison

Matthew Jellison is the author of the giants, parts one and two, which was produced at Loft 227 last winter. He is the 2012 /2013 Kenan Playwriting Fellow at the Kennedy Center, an alumnus of the FreshGround Pepper PlayGround PlayGroup and SPACE on Ryder Farm, a Semi-Finalist and two-time Playwriting Observor at the O'Neill National Playwright's Conference, and a finalist for the Soho Rep Writer / Director's Lab. Matthew is an instructor at WritopiaLab NYC, where he helps kids develop original writing. Matthew graduated from the acting program at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Christine Toy Johnson

Christine Toy Johnson is an award-winning writer, actor, director and advocate for inclusion. Her plays and musicals have been developed at such places as the Roundabout Theatre Company, O'Neill Theater Center, Village Theatre, Crossroads Theatre, The Barrow Group and more. A collection of her work is included in the Library of Congress Asian Pacific American Performing Arts Collection. As an actor, she's been featured extensively on Broadway, Off-Broadway, film, and television. She is a proud member of the Councils of both the Dramatists Guild and Actors' Equity. Recipient of a 2016 Meryl Streep/IRIS Writers Lab fellowship and the 2013 Rosetta LeNoire Award.

Hyeyoung Kim and Shoshana Greenberg

Hyeyoung Kim and Shoshana Greenberg received MFAs from the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at NYU. Their musical Days of Rage has had readings at NYU (2014) and with New York Theatre Barn (2016), and was featured in New York Theatre Barn's New Works Series (2016) and Choreography Lab (2017). Their musical A Story No One Knows will be part of New York Theatre Barn's upcoming New Works Series (April, 2018). Hyeyoung Kim is also a MAC Nominee, 2005 recipient of the Jonathan Larson, Daryl Roth, and TRU Daniel Marshall Multicultural awards.

Steven Kopp

Steven Kopp (Co-Founder, Kopp & Caddigan Productions) is a Freelance Producer & Director. Formerly the Assistant to David Binder, Broadway Producer of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Of Mice and Men. Producing & Directing credits: Billy and the Golden Pencil (Barn Arts Collective), Spike Heels by Theresa Rebeck (Loft 227), Late For Brunch (The Pit Loft), The Black Parade: An Evening of Live Music (Loft 227), The Screen (Taksu Theatre Company and The Simpletons). Producing credits: The Tempest (Taksu Theatre Company). Assistant Directing credits: I Remember Mama by John Van Druten (Transport Group), The Maids by Jean Genet (Sonnet Repertory Theatre).

Yan Li

Yan Li makes musicals and paper cranes. His work has involved sexually adventurous puppets, blood-letting bakers, adventurous octogenarians and blind villagers. Most recently represented off-Broadway with the NY Times Critics' Pick show Made In China, Yan's theatrical shenanigans have been allowed in a variety of venues on 4 continents. He loves that Ringo's most famous contribution to The Beatles was a song about an octopus' garden and tries to live by that standard as a writer. Yan also works actively as a music director, educator, pianist, and essayist and is a NYU Tisch Fellow and O'Neill Center finalist (later O'Neill Center goer for another show).

Made with Sass (Samantha Slater)

Made with Sass, founded by Samantha Slater, is a female focused Production Company. We choose honest and unique stories, often found within the context of ordinary, and we tell them from the female perspective. Both in the content we choose and the creative team we hire, Made with Sass aims to employ women in leadership roles of the filmmaking and theatre-making process. Company accomplishments include: Edmonton International Film Fest (Oscar qualifying), USA Film Fest (Finalist - International Short Film Competition), IndieWorks (Audience Choice Award Winner), San Jose International Short Film Festival, Brooklyn Women's Film Fest, HollyWeb Fest ('14 & '16), NYC & Austin Web Fests, and New York Comedy Shorts Fest.

Jessie Mahon

Originally from the Midwest, Jessie Mahon is a New York City-based theatre and visual artist. Her highly metaphysical, dreamlike contemporary paintings explore healing, growth and visibility. A graduate of a BFA acting program and a self-taught artist, her paintings have sold to collectors and friends all over the country.


Founded in 2007, MAWU is an all-female crew and dance company born out of New York's underground house scene, whose mission is to embody strong, positive images of women in the urban dance community, and to create fierce and creative works that will both educate and inspire new audiences. The group has presented original work at Alvin Ailey, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Jamaica Performing Arts Center, SummerStage, Red Hook Fest, and performed and taught around the US as well as globally. MAWU received the 2016 NYC Dance Awards 'Crew of the Year' award and recently celebrated their 10th anniversary. The ladies of MAWU are Chriz, Ephrat, Jimbo, Linda, Rhodesia, Secada, Tara, and Tine.

MelimeL Digital Art Design

MelimeL is a creative artist and mompreneur. She is CEO and Founder of design company, MelimeL Digital Art Design, and is co-partner of MELySMAX LLC (with her husband), a company dedicated to the arts and event production, currently known for its successful concert series Smax Music Live and Smax Music Live With Friends. She is passionate about women empowerment and hosts an annual Women Empowerment Event during Women's History Month in NYC (the upcoming 6th Annual is on March 10, 2018). In 2015, she launched The sisSTAR Loop, an online platform and initiative for women-owned business and professionals. Through the annual event and The sisSTAR Loop, she hopes to inspire other women to excel in their personal and professional lives.

Rebecca Odorisio

Born and raised in the Philadelphia suburb of Ardmore, PA, Rebecca "Bex" Odorisio left for New York at the age of eighteen to pursue her dramatic education. She studied at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts (Playwrights Horizons Theater School) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Since earning her B.F.A., she has placed equal emphasis on musical, comedic, and dramatic pursuits, and has worked her away across a wide theatrical spectrum, performing everything from Shakespeare to Sondheim to Strayhorn. She is the recipient of the 2016 Silver Medal from the American Traditions Competition and an enthusiastic member of America's Sweethearts.

Pocket Universe (Alyssa May Gold)

Pocket Universe is a New York City-based theater and film Production Company dedicated to reconsidering and reimagining classic stories and conventions. Founded by Alyssa May Gold, Pocket Universe introduced itself to New York in the summer of 2017 with a sold-out run of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare set in an all-girls high school at the Access Theater. Pocket Universe also produced the web series, "You Made It Worse," a rom-com where the girl pines for her dream job, which has screened at Brooklyn Web Fest and the New York Indie Theater Film Festival.

Charlotte Purser

Charlotte Purser (playwright, actor) Charlotte is a writer, actor, producer, and filmmaker in New York City. She is the executive producer and founder of ThisThistle Media, an independent film, theatre, and tv Production Company. She has written and produced four short films and a staged reading of a play. As an actor, she has performed regionally, in New York City, and across the UK. Notable parts include Sister James in Doubt at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Mrs. Darling in the Peter Pan national tour, and Gertrude in Hamleton the Globe stage in London.

Richard Pictures Presents (David Hilder and Dan McCoy)

Richard Pictures Presents is a New York City-based theatrical combine dedicated to presenting bold, exciting new plays in conversation with our interior and exterior worlds. RPP began in 2015 with the collaboration between playwright Daniel McCoy and director David Hilder, both graduates of the Hunter College MFA Playwriting program, on a workshop production of Daniel's play Perfect Teeth at Theaterlab NYC. It continued with a workshop and staged reading of Daniel's play Dick Pix, directed by Brown/Trinity graduate Heidi Handelsman, at Ensemble Studio Theatre in 2016. In summer of 2018, Daniel, David, Heidi and RPP will return to Theaterlab with a repertory production of both Perfect Teeth and Dick Pix. After that, who knows?

Ripening (Vanessa Walters, and Brian Gonzalez aka Taxiplasm)

Ripening explores our manifold emotional, physical, and psychological relationships with time and the inevitable cruelty it wreaks. The journey is one of arriving, becoming, blossoming, maturing, decaying, and ultimately transforming. Through film, installation, and live performance, each Ripening installment traverses themes of aging and beauty, vanity, femininity, fantasies and nightmares. Conceived by choreographer Vanessa Walters, Ripening has been under development for five years. Walters and co-director / filmmaker, Brian Gonzalez screened Ripening at Lincoln Center, Tribeca Cinemas, Dance on Camera Festival, Cucalorus Film Festival, and Nada / Art Basel. Triskelion Presents and Irondale's FLICfest have showcased live incarnations of the work.

Andy Scott

Andy Scott is a stage director and filmmaker. His work is inspired by social issues, unrealistic expectations and bizarre possibilities. His current digital projects are "KOOL AID," an anthology web-series that explores conformity, and "CALL IT A WITCH HUNT," a short film about witches (perhaps from Salem) in a toxic masculinity-fueled office. Favorite stage credits include Aphrodisiac (Loft 227), Rent and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre), Completeness (West of 10th Theatre Company), and Catherine Weingarten's Are You Ready to Get PAMPERED!?. Andy earned his BA in Theatre at Greensboro College, and currently works at A+E Networks with the Brand Partnerships team.

Shallow Graves(Jenny Lester and Juliana Jurenas)

Shallow Graves is a multifaceted Production Company founded in 2014 by Jenny Lester and Juliana Jurenas. The pair started making shorts and sketch comedy before turning their attention to the half-hour series medium with their road-trip dramedy, Platonics. Shallow Graves strives to tell small stories that embody the human experience while exploiting the universal three-dimensionality of all people - whether those people live on a small screen, big screen, or eight times a week in a tiny blackbox.

Crystal Skillman

Crystal Skillman is the author of Geek, Cut, and King Kirby (co-written with Fred Van Lente), all NYTimes Critics picks. She is the musical theater book writer of Mary & Max (with Composer/Lyricist Bobby Cronin). As a 2018 Sokoloff Arts Fellowship recipient, Crystal will be working on her new play Pulp Vérité, with director Margot Bordelon, and her new musical Postcard American Town with Composer/Lyricist Lynne Shankel. Pulp Vérité received readings at Cherry Lane, Judson Church, and a 2015 Clifford Odets Ensemble Play Commission. After development at the Lark, and a lab with NYU's Steinhardt School, Postcard American Town had its first industry presentation in January 2018. Crystal is represented by UTA.

The Long Table (David Loewy, Noah Reece, Greg Taubman, Jocelyn Vammer)

The Long Table is an ongoing, performance-driven exploration of the ways that specific communities share food, story, and song. These immersive evenings weave folk narrative and music into a communal meal, each version showcasing the work of artists from a different cultural background. Long Table performances engage audiences with the experience of communities that may be distinct from their own, while revealing the common threads between cultures. The Long Table was conceived by David Loewy, Noah Reece, Greg Taubman, and Jocelyn Vammer. In its inaugural iteration in 2018, The Long Table will host a Viking Feast at Town Stages in TriBeCa.

The Rigano Songbook (David and Paul Rigano)

Brothers David and Paul Rigano make up the songwriting team of The Rigano Songbook. Specializing in musical theatre and cabaret, the Brothers Rigano have written the scores for The Holy Cows of Credence South Dakota and You Heard It Here (NY Winterfest Award for Best Musical Score). They are the creators of the hit cabaret series "I Ought to Behave" and Other Naughty Songs and The Ides of March Extravaganza. The Riganos couldn't be more thrilled to be starting their newest endeavor, Broadway On Deck, at TOWN Stages with Sokoloff Arts.

Jamila Youngstedt

Jamila Youngstedt is a freelance dance and Cyr Wheel artist. Current performer/choreographer/co-director of Tactile Movement Collective. B.F.A. Dance (Magna Cum Laude) Cornish College of the Arts. Company/performance credits include: ZviDance (current apprentice), Loren Royse & Co. ("Spun" at Jacob's Pillow), Kinetic Architecture Dance Theatre, Buglisi Dance Theatre, Shelter Repertory Dance Theatre; work by Merce Cunningham, William Forsythe, Iyun Harrison, Patricia Hon, Robert Moses, Christian Burns, Alex Ketley. Training highlights: Interlochen Arts Academy, Mark Morris Dance Group, Royal Danish Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, BalletMet, Flint Institute of Music. She is a Certified Pilates Instructor and Certified GYROTONIC Trainer.

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