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Keen Company Announces 2019 Playwrights Lab Readings And The Lab Playwrights For 2020

Keen Company Announces 2019 Playwrights Lab Readings And The Lab Playwrights For 2020

Today Keen Company Artistic Director Jonathan Silverstein announced his plans for Keen's Playwrights Lab, including readings from this year's participants as well as the playwrights for the 2020 Lab.

"I am thrilled to announce this year's Playwrights Lab readings as well as our incoming writers for 2020. Under the guidance of Jeremy Stoller, Keen's Director of New Work, the Keen Playwrights Lab is a crucial part of Keen's commitment to new work. Not only is the Lab a supportive and collaborative space for these talented writers to develop their plays, but it also points to new horizons for the Keen mission. This year's writers have energized our community in inspiring ways and I look forward to seeing what our 2020 writers will dream up," said Silverstein.

Join Keen Company for the first public reading of three new plays, developed through the 2019 Keen Playwrights Lab, featuring playwrights Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, Mona Mansour, and Deb Margolin. Tickets are FREE and open to the public! Space is limited, so reservations are a must.

The 2020 Playwrights Lab will offer new works from Karen Hartman, Lisa Ramirez, and Ken Urban

"We always hope our playwrights will use the Lab not only to develop plays that grapple with Keen's mission, but to lean on us and each other in their exploration of what it means to be a career-long working playwright -- the ongoing challenges of that, the new creative directions they want to venture into, and how to respond to a changing field and culture. It is a testament to their boldness and artistry that Deen, Mona, and Deb have done all of that in this past year. The vibrant writing they've generated in these past months offers a promise of all that we have yet to see from them as their careers continue. We look forward to finding new ways to support them as this year's Lab ends and we welcome in the 2020 Lab writers," said Jeremy Stoller, Keen's Director of New Work.

Launched in 2013, The Keen Playwrights Lab brings together three American Playwrights in mid-career to develop new work and facilitate that work's exposure to a greater audience. Over the course of a season, each playwright develops a new full-length play inspired by Keen's mission. The program culminates in a public reading series, where these new plays are shared with the Keen community, the larger theater industry, and the general public.

The Keen Company Playwrights Lab is led by Jeremy Stoller, Keen Company's Director of New Work. All readings are free and open to the public. Reservations can be made at The Keen Playwrights Lab is produced with the generous support of the Dramatist Guild Fund.

Please note: Mona Mansour is currently working on an upcoming Apple TV show; her Lab reading will take place at a later date to be announced.

This season's other offerings are:

Friday December 6th at 4pm

ART/NY Bruce Mitchell Room, 520 8th Avenue/3rd floor | Run time: 90 mins


by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen

directed by Jackson Gay

Darren and Esther live on the 19th floor and they have a very pleasant view. Darren is busy and Esther is waiting for him to stop being busy. The kids are no help - they're always in crisis. All the while, outside the water level is rising, rising, rising.

Friday December 13th at 4pm

New George's The Room, 520 8th Avenue/3rd Floor | Run Time: 70 mins

Just Give Me One Half Hour with My Mother

by Deb Margolin

artistic directed by Jay Wahl

directed by Merri Milwe

Five years after her death, Deb Margolin brings her mother back to beg her to provide the punchline to this riot of a joke Deb can't quite finish. All the bases are covered - love, death, cut flowers, and existential snails. Comedy always encompasses love and death, and the Yiddish language is the mother tongue of both!

Mashuq Mushtaq Deen is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Draw the Circle (productions: PlayMakers Rep, Mosaic Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre; published: Dramatists Play Service). His other full-length plays include The Empty Place (co-commission NYU & New Dramatists, and (upcoming) produced by NYU), Flood, The Betterment Society, The Shaking Earth, and Tank & Horse (world premiere at the Berkshire Fringe Festival). Deen's work has been presented/developed/supported by a number of institutions including New Dramatists, Sundance Theatre Institute & the Ucross Foundation, Blue Mountain Center, The Public Theater, NYTW, MacDowell Colony, Bogliasco Foundation, Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Kansas City Rep (upcoming), Keen Company, Target Margin Theatre, NYU, La Jolla Playhouse, New Harmony Project, Chesley/Bumbalo Foundation, Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation, SPACE at Ryder Farm, New York Foundation for the Arts, InterAct Theatre, Page73, Ma-Yi, Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Georgetown University, BEAT Festival, PACE University, Hampshire College, Averett University, Dixon Place, Passage Theatre, Queens Theatre in the Park, Tofte Lake Center, and the Berkshire Fringe Festival. Awards and nominations include: Lambda Literary Award for Drama (2019), James Baldwin Award, Dennis Johnston Playwriting Prize honorable mention, and a nomination for the Weissberger Award. His has been listed on Steppenwolf's Mix List, the Kilroy's List (Honorable Mention 2017), a finalist for the Jerome New York Fellowship (twice), semifinalist for the O'Neill Conference (twice), and finalist for the Playwrights Center Core Writers. He is a member of the NYTW Usual Suspects, Ma-Yi Writers Lab, founder of The Public Theater Alumni Writers Group, and the Dramatists Guild. He earned his MFA from The Actors Studio Drama School/New School for Drama. He is represented by the Gurman Agency LLC and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. In his spare time, Deen is also a participating citizen (#flarebkny) and a man of many hobbies, including bread-baker, soap-maker, and student of the guitar.

Mona Mansour's play We Swim, We Talk, We Go To War, directed by Evren Odcikin, premiered at SF's Golden Thread in winter 2018. The Vagrant Trilogy was presented at Mosaic Theater in June 2018, directed by Mark Wing-Davey. Of the trilogy: The Hour Of Feeling (dir. Wing-Davey) premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and a new Arabic translation was presented at NYU Abu Dhabi, as part of its Arab Voices Festival in 2016. Urge For Going: productions at The Public Theater (dir. Hal Brooks) and Golden Thread (dir. Odcikin). The Vagrant was commissioned by the Public and workshopped at the 2013 Sundance Theater Institute. The Way West: Labyrinth (dir. Mimi O'Donnell); Village Theater (dir. Christina Myatt); Steppenwolf (dir. Amy Morton); and Marin Theatre Company (dir. Hayley Finn). Other credits: Unseen, Gift Theater (dir. Maureen Payne-Hahner), In The Open for Waterwell, directed by James Dean Palmer, and Across The Water, written for third-year MFAs at NYU (dir. Scott Illingworth). Mona was a member of The Public Theater's Emerging Writers Group. With Tala Manassah she has written Falling Down the Stairs, an EST/Sloan commission. Their play Dressing is part Of Facing Our Truths: Short Plays About Trayvon, Race And Privilege, commissioned by the New Black Festival. TV: "Queens Supreme," "Dead Like Me." Commissions include Playwrights Horizons, Old Globe Theater, La Jolla Playhouse and Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "American Revolutions." 2012 Whiting Award. 2014 Middle East America Playwright Award, MacDowell Colony 2018.

Deb Margolin is a playwright, actor and founding member of Split Britches Theater Company. She is the author of ten full-length solo performance pieces, which she has toured throughout the United States, and is the recipient of an OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. Her most recent solo piece, 8 Stops, a comedy concerning the grief of endless compassion, premiered at the Kimmel Art Center in Philadelphia. Deb's play Imagining Madoff was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play in Washington, DC, and for the Eliot Norton Award for Outstanding Production for its New England debut at New Repertory Theater Company in Boston. It will be seen at 59e59 Theater in NYC in March of 2019. Seven Palestinian Children, a companion piece to Caryl Chuchill's Seven Jewish Children, has been performed throughout the US and internationally. Deb is currently Professor in the Practice in Yale University's undergraduate Theater Studies Program. She was awarded the Richard H. Brodhead Prize for Teaching Excellence at Yale, and the Kesselring Playwriting Prize. In 2008 she was honored to accept the Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwright Award. A book of Deb's performance pieces and plays, entitled Of All The Nerve: Deb Margolin SOLO, was published in 1999 by Cassell/Continuum Press. Deb lives in New Jersey, which she denies, and is grateful to the Keen Company for an unflagging attention to what's most essential about being human.

Karen Hartman is a 2019 John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Fellow who writes about human beings in the crosshairs of history. Her play Good Faith: Four Chats about Race and the New Haven Fire Department premiered at Yale Repertory Theater in 2019, directed by Kenny Leon. Three acclaimed recent works, Roz and Ray (Edgerton New Play Prize), The Book of Joseph, and Project Dawn (NEA Art Works Grant, NNPN Rolling World Premiere) had ten productions across the country in the 2016-18 seasons, premiering at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, People's Light, Seattle Rep, and Victory Gardens. The Book of Joseph set records as the highest grossing play in the history of Everyman Theatre in Baltimore. SuperTrue (Kilroy's List of top plays by women) premiered at Know Theater in Cincinnati in 2018. In 2017, Ms. Hartman received the Deborah Salzer Award for Excellence in Arts Education from Playwrights Project in San Diego. In 2014 - '15, Ms. Hartman held the Playwright Center's McKnight Residency and Commission for a nationally recognized playwright. Current musical collaborations include Alice Bliss (with Jenny Giering and Adam Gwon), for Playwrights Horizons based on Laura Harrington's contemporary wartime coming-of-age novel, winner of the Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award, and Rattlesnake Kate with singer/songwriter Neyla Pekarek, commissioned by the Denver Center, based on Pekarek's album Rattlesnake. As a librettist, Ms. Hartman wrote new dialogue for Mozart's Magic Flute premiering with Pacific MusicWorks at Seattle's 1200-seat Meany Center in May 2015. She and composer Graham Reynolds won the Frederick Loewe Award for Music Theater for their pop opera MotherBone. ALICE: Tales of a Curious Girl (music by Gina Leishman, adapted from Lewis Carroll), was produced by Dallas Theater Center and many other companies, and won the AT&T Onstage Award. Sea Change, a musical with score by AnnMarie Milazzo, was a finalist for the O'Neill Musical Theater Conference. Goldie, Max, and Milk premiered at Florida Stage and was nominated for the Steinberg/American Critics Award (Best New American Regional Play) and the Carbonell Award (Best New Play in Florida). Gum, which premiered at Baltimore's Center Stage, has seen dozens of productions at theaters and universities across the country and in Europe. Her many other works include Goliath (Dorothy Silver New Play Prize); Leah's Train (Weissberger Award Finalist); Going Gone (N.E.A. New Play Grant); Girl Under Grain (Best Drama in NY Fringe); Wild Kate (adapted from Moby Dick) and her Euripides adaptation Troy Women, which has become a staple of college theaters. She is one of five writers of The Antigone Project, with productions off-Broadway, at Baltimore's Rep Stage, and Portland's Profile Theater. Ms. Hartman's plays have been performed in New York at the Women's Project, National Asian American Theatre Company, P73, and Summer Play Festival, and at regional theaters including Cincinnati Playhouse, Dallas Theater Center, San Diego Rep, Theater J, the Magic, and elsewhere. They are published by Theater Communications Group, Dramatists Play Service, Playscripts, Autumn House Press, Backstage Books, and NoPassport Press. Hartman's personal and political essays have been published in the New York Times and the Washington Post. She wrote an introduction for Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas, published in 2017 by Playwrights Canada Press. A New Dramatists alumna and past Core Member of the Playwright's Center, Ms. Hartman's work has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio, the National Endowment for the Arts, Princeton's Hodder Fellowship, the Helen Merrill Foundation, Space at Ryder Farm, Hedgebrook, MacDowell Colony, the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, a Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, a Joseph A. Callaway Award from New Dramatists, a Jerome Fellowship, and a Fulbright Scholarship. She has been a guest artist at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain. Ms. Hartman grew up in San Diego and graduated from Yale University and the Yale School of Drama. She is Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington, and just returned to Brooklyn after four years in Seattle. In summer 2018, she earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Lisa Ramirez's Exit Cuckoo (nanny in motherland) was first presented Off Broadway by the Working Theater (Colman Domingo - director) and subsequently toured in various theaters throughout the U.S. and Ireland. Other writing credits include, Art of Memory, a dance theatre piece, commissioned by Company SoGoNo and presented at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater and the 3-Legged Dog in New York (Tanya Calamoneri- director); Invisible Women - Rise, Foundry Theatre & Domestic Workers United (Lisa Ramirez- director); To The Bone, originally a Working Theater commission, was a finalist for the 2012 NPN Smith Prize, the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and the Ellen Stewart Award; All Fall Down was conceived/written in 2013-'14 at INTAR's Maria Irene Fornés Hispanic Playwrights in Residency Lab; Contributing playwright for In Mother Words; presented at The Geffen Playhouse and various regional theaters (Lisa Peterson director). In 2012/13 Lisa was part of the Mentor Project at the Cherry Lane Theatre where she wrote Pas de Deux (lost my shoe) (Cynthia Hopkins- mentor). In September 2014, the Cherry Lane Theatre presented the world premiere of To The Bone (Lisa Peterson-director), recipient of the 2015 NYCT Helen Merrill Emerging Playwriting Award and the 2015 Kilroy List. Most recently wrote Down Here Below (Michael French- director), an adaptation of Maxim Gorky's The Lower Depths for the Ubuntu Theater Project and received its world premiere in May 2019.

Ken Urban is an award-winning playwright whose work for the stage and screen engages the pressing political issues of our time, while avoiding simple didacticism and the false comfort of cynicism. His plays tackle a wide variety of subjects ranging from the rise of anti-gay violence in Uganda to the tragedy of gay divorce in Boston. Yet, all his writing shares a deep sense of radical empathy and intellectual rigor. Ken's plays include A Guide for the Homesick, The Remains, Sense of an Ending, The Correspondent, A Future Perfect, The Awake, and The Happy Sad. His plays have been produced Off-Broadway at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 59E59 Theatres, the Amoralists and the Summer Play Festival at The Public Theater. In London, his work was staged at Trafalgar Studios in the West End and on the fringe at Theatre503. Regionally, his work has been seen at the Huntington Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, SpeakEasy Stage Company, First Floor Theater, and the Mill at Stage Left. Awards include the Weissberger Playwriting Award, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the Independent Reviewers of New England's Award for Best New Script, Huntington Theater Playwriting Fellowship, Headlands Artist Residency, Djerassi Artist Residency, Dramatist Guild Fellowship, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship, MacDowell Colony Fellowships, and the Fay Chandler Faculty Creativity Seed Grant from the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST). He is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and an affiliated writer at the Playwrights' Center. For the screen, Ken wrote the screenplay for director Rodney Evans's feature-film adaptation of his play The Happy Sad. The film screened internationally at over 25 film festivals, and is now available on iTunes, Hulu and Amazon. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, and they have been featured in numerous monologue anthologies. He leads the band Occurrence with vocalists Cat Hollyer and Johnny Hager. Their latest releases are Everyone Knows the Disaster Is Coming and If He Were Here, both released in 2018. Their music is available on all major streaming platforms and Bandcamp. The band are currently writing and recording new material at their studio in Washington Heights, working with Tony-nominated composer Daniel Kluger. Ken is the Senior Lecturer and Head of Dramatic Writing in the Music and Theater Arts program at MIT. (Yes, MIT has a theater program.) He has also taught writing at Harvard University, Princeton University, Tufts University, Davidson College and Rutgers University. He lives in New York City with his partner Johnny.

Keen Company creates theater that provokes identification, reflection, and emotional connection. In intimate productions of plays and musicals, we tell wholehearted stories about people striving to do their best and the decisive moments that change us. Keen has been honored with eleven Drama Desk nominations, two Drama Desk Awards, two Drama League nominations, and two Obie Awards.

For more information about the Keen Company Playwrights Lab or any of Keen's programs, visit

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