Winners of Columbia@Roundabout's 2021 New Play Reading Series Announced

The playwrights featured are Adam North (Central Air), Kate Pressman (Piano for Four Hands) and Alaudin Ullah (The Halal Brothers).

By: Jun. 23, 2021
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Winners of Columbia@Roundabout's 2021 New Play Reading Series Announced

Roundabout Theatre Company and Columbia University School of the Arts have announced the winners of Columbia@Roundabout's 2021 New Play Reading Series. As part of the collaborative partnership between Roundabout Theatre Company and Columbia University, the reading series awards three playwrights from the current MFA program and recent alumni with a cash prize as well as a reading produced by Roundabout. Five finalists have also received cash prizes in recognition of their exceptional work.

No other collaborative partnership in the New York area brings together an esteemed Ivy League MFA program with a Tony Award-winning, not-for-profit theatre. The reading series is made possible by a grant from The Tow Foundation.

The playwrights featured in the sixth annual Columbia@Roundabout New Play Reading Series are: Adam North (Central Air), Kate Pressman (Piano for Four Hands) and Alaudin Ullah (The Halal Brothers).

Finalists include A.A. Brenner (Blanche and Stella), Justin Aaron Halle (Cowgirl), Julián Mesri (Immersion), Alle Mims (Pink), Paola Alexandra Soto (The Sosa Sisters).

The New Play Reading Series will be held July 26-30, 2021. Readings will be open to industry members and other guests by invitation only.

The selection committee consisted of two representatives from Roundabout Theatre Company: Associate Artistic Director Jill Rafson and Literary Manager Anna Morton; and two representatives from Columbia University: Christian Parker, Head of the Dramaturgy concentration and David Henry Hwang, Head of the Playwriting concentration for the Theatre Program at Columbia University School of the Arts.


By Alaudin Ullah

Directed by Carl Cofield

On February 22nd, 1965 events take place in a Halal store in Harlem owned by two Bengali brothers. Malcolm X's right-hand man places an order for Halal meat for the engagement at the Audubon Ballroom. Revelations come out on this fateful day that will change the course of Harlem and America forever.


By Kate Pressman

Directed by Annie Tippe

Nat and Lia are conjoined twins. They're young, sheltered and home-schooled, lonely and bored, and interested in everything and never really alone. They're rising concert pianists and complete audiophiles, but when Lia starts talking to one of her fans, they're forced to face the desire for and fear of separateness in their shared life.


By Adam North

Directed by Zi Alikhan

Ben is in a successful, polyfidelotous throuple with his long-standing, radical faerie boyfriend Porter and a newer addition, a painter named Kacper. But when Kacper returns to LA from a trip home to Poland, he reveals that his immigration status has changed, and he's now at risk of having to leave the US. When marriage emerges as the most sensible solution, the three must decide which two will participate in it. And as they navigate the arduous Adjustment of Status interview process, the tectonics holding their relationship together become unstable, and the performance of marriage blurs fiction and reality.


ADAM NORTH (he/him) is a playwright and screenwriter from Fairfax, Virginia. Plays include Central Air (fka Adjustment of Status, O'Neill Semi-Finalist), The Entheogens, Full Course Menu (Fresh Fruit Festival), Breakfast (Winner: Best Performance, Act One One Act Fest), Spin (Columbia@Roundabout Finalist), Home Delivery (New Harmony Project Finalist, Geffen Theater Annex). He's written opera libretti with composers such as Nico Muhly and David Little, and is currently assisting Bess Wohl with development of a new play and several television and film projects. Adam co-wrote and co-directed Complete Works, a comedy series about a National Shakespeare Competition that aired on Hulu in 2013. Prior to living in New York, Adam worked as a feature film development executive at Columbia Pictures in Los Angeles, California. Adam has an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University, as well as an MFA in Film Producing from USC's Peter Stark Program and a BA in English Literature, also from University of Southern California. He lives in the East Village.

KATE PRESSMAN (she/her) received her Playwriting MFA from Columbia in 2020. Her play Twenty-Six Seconds received a studio presentation at the Park Avenue Armory as part of the Culture in a Changing America Symposium in February 2019. Her other full-length plays have been read at New Georges, Red Fern Theatre Company, The Kraine Theater, The Access Theater and Play on Words. Her short plays have been performed in New York City, regionally and digitally. In addition to playwriting, Kate has worked as a stage manager, dramaturg, designer, and assistant director.

ALAUDIN ULLAH (he/him) has been trailblazing the past few decades as one of the first South Asian comedians to be featured on Networks such as Comedy Central, MTV. BET, and PBS. He's appeared in several national commercials as well as done voiceovers for radio and TV. As a voiceover artist he's been featured in the award-winning animated film Sita Sings the Blues. Limited by negative stereotypes, with little to no representation of his people, Alaudin turned from acting to writing. As a member of The Public Theater's Inaugural Emerging Writers Group, he worked on his trilogy of plays based on Harlem and Bangladesh. His solo play Dishwasher Dreams, directed by Chay Yew, will have its world premiere next season at Hartford Stage. His plays were workshopped in theaters such as The Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, The Lark, Labyrinth, The Culture Project, Victory Gardens and Silk Road Theater (Chicago), Shakespeare in Paradise festival (Bahamas), and Classical Theater of Harlem. A book was inspired by his plays called Bengali Harlem and a documentary he co-directed by the same name is premiering next year on PBS. Recipient of Ford Foundation Grant, CAAM (Center of Asian American Media), Paul Robeson Grant, LMCC (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) playwright grant, and currently is a 2022 MFA candidate in Playwriting at Columbia University.


A.A. Brenner (they / them) is a playwright, dramaturg, and New Yorker. Their writing blends naturalistic dialogue with heightened realism to explore queer, Jewish, and Disability themes, challenging both societal power structures and theatrical form. A.A.'s plays have been produced or commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse, National Disability Theatre, CO/LAB Theatre Group, Shakespeare Theatre Company (Fellows Consortium), Three Muses Theatre Company, Young Playwrights Inc., The Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, Columbia University, and The Hangar Theatre Lab Company; their play for all audiences, Emily Driver's Great Race Through Time and Space (co-written by Gregg Mozgala), was featured on the 2020 Kilroys List. Most recently, A.A. was named a Finalist for the 2020-22 Apothetae & Lark Playwriting Fellowship and is one of the inaugural recipients of the Jody Falco and Jeffrey Steinman Award. Currently, A.A. lives on the Upper West Side, where they are a third-year MFA candidate at Columbia University School of the Arts and a Writer / Producer at Epiq Media (as A. Ari Brenner).

JUSTIN AARON HALLE (he / they) is a New York-based performer, playwright and pansy. A graduate of NYU Tisch's Experimental Theater Wing, Justin has performed at venues including La MaMa ETC, the Bowery Electric, and Joe's Pub. Justin's playwriting has been performed off-Broadway at the Red Bull Theater, and off-West End at London's Jermyn Street Theater. Justin's short play, Delaware, Come Home is featured in the "Best of Red Bull Theater's Short New Play Festival" collection, published in 2019. Justin is obsessed with all things queer, Jewish, and strange. In their free time, Justin loves throwing extravagant little fits on the internet and deleting them shortly after. Justin is currently pursuing their MFA in playwriting at Columbia University's School of the Arts.

JULIÁN MESRI (he/him) is a New York-based Argentinean-American writer and composer who makes multilingual plays and musicals in the US and around the world. He is a current member of The Public Theater Emerging Writers Group and received a 2020-2021 EST/Sloan Commission. Recent productions include Immersion (Ingenio Festival at Milagro Theater, BAPF Semi-Finalist), The Gauchos Americanos (Teatro Extranjero, Buenos Aires), and the upcoming musical Telo. Other work includes music directing/arranging Songs About Trains with Radical Evolution, composing music for The Public Theater Mobile Unit presentation of Pablo Neruda's Romeo y Julieta, and a new commissioned musical for young audiences, The Adventures of Snow White, to tour China in 2021. Mesri has been an Emerging Artist of Color Fellow at NYTW, a Van Lier fellow at Repertorio Español, and the recipient of an ASCAP Scholarship. His adaptation of Fuenteovejuna received the HOLA Outstanding production award. He has also translated dramatic works for the Lark US/Mexico Exchange and PEN World Voices. He received his MFA from Columbia University.

Alle Mims (they/she) is a playwright interested in exploring race and class, gender and sexuality, and power and abuse, through satire and dark humor. As a queer black woman who lived in Texas for nine years, she knows how to laugh through desperate times. Alle Mims is originally from San Diego but earned her BA in acting/directing at Texas Women's University in 2016. Since graduation, she worked professionally as an actor on stage and screen, with a special love for Shakespeare. In 2018, they served as an editor for the Dallas-Ft. Worth Theatre Standards, modeled after the Chicago Theatre Standards. In 2019, they co-produced the first ever Womxn in Theatre Festival in Dallas (Brickroad Theatre). They also co-founded Altered Shakespeare, a company dedicated to giving opportunities to BIPOC, queer, and untapped talent, as well as bringing classic works to new audiences. Alle Mims's short play, Sally and Thomas, which shows a satirical conversation between Sally Hemmings and her slave-master, Thomas Jefferson, was produced locally three times in 2018/2019 (Pocket Sandwich Theatre, Sundown Collaborative Theatre, The Guinea Pig IV). She also collaborated with seven local Dallas playwrights to create The Tree - An American Rock Musical, with music from Veteran Children, for Imprint Theatreworks' 2020/2021 digital season. You can find her on social media @allemims.

PAOLA ALEXANDRA SOTO (she/her) is a playwright, producer, director, and actress who was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Harlem. Most recently she earned her MFA in Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts. Her writing credits include Lucha Libre, a one-act version of the play was translated to Mandarin and performed by students at the Shanghai Theatre Academy. Her other plays include The Sosa Sisters, D'Carnaval, The Commission, On the 1 Train, Bo+Li, and Macbéf. Paola holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from CCNY where she won the Jacob Weiser Playwriting Award for her one act On The 1 Train. Her acting credits include: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Antigone, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She wrote and performed in an original adaptation of Two Noble Brothers produced by Cornerstone Theater Company. She was the lead in Raksha's Child and was a writer/actress in the original play Don't See My Bones and Think I'm Dead. The production was featured in a documentary for PBS where she was featured performing her work. She has also appeared in short films. Before returning to grad school Paola was the Assistant Administrative Director of the Drama Division at The Juilliard School. She has worked for the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Signature Theater, Penguin Group, Harper Collins Publishers, Abrons Arts Center, Bronx Writers Center, and Harlem Children's Zone. Paola was the independent publisher and editor of Lemon Andersen's award-winning book County of Kings and his book of poems Straightrazor.