Roundabout Announces Winners Of Columbia@Roundabout's 2019 New Play Reading Series

By: Sep. 05, 2019
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Roundabout Announces Winners Of Columbia@Roundabout's 2019 New Play Reading Series

Roundabout Theatre Company and Columbia University School of the Arts have announced the winners of Columbia@Roundabout's 2019 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 in Roundabout's Rehearsal Hall, followed by a post-reading reception. 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.

Playwrights featured in the fourth annual Columbia@Roundabout New Play Reading Series include Matt Barbot (The Venetians), Gordon Penn (Black Garden) and Gina Stevensen (The Colony). Finalists include Melis Aker (Field, Awakening), Elisabeth Frankel (2076), Dayoung Jeong (Sweet Pee), Devon Kidd (Not Even God) and Adam North (Spin).

The New Play Reading Series will be held September 23 - 25 at Roundabout's Rehearsal Hall. Mentorship is provided by celebrated Columbia faculty members, including Tony Award winner David Henry Hwang, Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony Award nominee Lynn Nottage and Obie Award winner Charles L. Mee. Readings will be open to industry members and other guests by invitation only.

The selection committee consisted of two representatives from Roundabout Theatre Company: Director of New Play Development Jill Rafson and Associate Artist Joshua Harmon; and two representatives from Columbia University: Christian Parker, former Chair of the Theatre Program at Columbia University School of the Arts and David Henry Hwang, head of the Playwriting concentration for the program.

Schedule of Readings


By Matt Barbot

Directed by Jade King Carroll

Monday, September 23 at 3:30pm

Othello, the Moorish general, wants to give his beloved Desdemona the beautiful secret wedding she deserves... but that means borrowing ducats. Unfortunately for him, the Jewish moneylender Shylock has spent too long among the terrible people of Venice to see this marriage as anything but a death sentence for Othello. Unbeknownst to Shylock, however, his own daughter has begun an illicit romance that may bring the whole world crashing down on all their heads. A crossover between Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and The Tragedy of Othello, The Venetians uses two classical outsiders to ask questions about immigration, assimilation, national identity, and what acceptance truly means. The Venetians was a finalist for American Shakespeare Center's initiative, Shakespeare's New Contemporaries.


By Gordon Penn

Directed by Arthur Makaryan

Tuesday, September 24 at 3:30pm

Black Garden is a dark satire set against the background of the three-decade long conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh (the militantly autonomous ethnic Armenian stronghold in the Caucus mountains of Azerbaijan), weaving together divergent stories involving citizens, soldiers, and corrupt politicians. Two lovers struggle to find each other through the fog of amnesia. A pacifist Army officer is imprisoned and accused of espionage. Paranoid unscrupulous presidents on opposing sides put their political survival over the fates of their people. Diaspora Armenians cement this theatrical collage as they search for love and question identity.


By Gina Stevensen

Directed by Miranda Haymon

Wednesday, September 25 at 3:30pm

In 1924 Virginia, a dirt-poor young woman named Carrie Buck is brought to a mysterious medical facility. No one will tell her why she's here, or where her two-month-old daughter is. The Doctor in charge is a charming progressive, a student of the new science of heredity and genes. In Carrie, he finds the missing link his entire movement has been searching for, placing her at the center of an unbelievable chain of events that will lead all the way to the Supreme Court. Based on a true story, The Colony asks the question: how does our society, past and present, regulate the bodies of women who are deemed "undesirable"?

Winner Bios

MATT BARBOT (The Venetians) is a writer from Brooklyn, NY. His play El Coquí Espectácular and the Bottle of Doom (Kennedy Center Darrel Ayers Award, Kennedy Center Latinidad Award) received its world premiere at Two River Theater in January of 2018. Matt is currently developing Infallibility (Indie Theater Now Best of FringeNYC 2013 list) as a Sheen Center playwriting fellow. Princess Clara of Loisaida (finalist: Latinx Theatre Commons' 2018 Carnaval of New Latinx Work, 2018 Columbia@Roundabout New Play Series) and Saints Go Marching (semifinalist: 2018 Eugene O'Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference) were selected to feature on Steppenwolf's The Mix list. Recently, his short play "A List of Some Shit I've Killed" was published as part of the Red Bull Theater's anthology Red Bull Shorts Volume III. Matt's first play for young audiences, Stoo's Famous Martian-American Gumbo, was commissioned by Peppercorn Theatre and will be produced in Summer 2019. He will soon begin as a New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Fellow. Additionally, Matt has worked with comic book creator Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez as an editor and co-writer for Darryl Makes Comics' DMC, as well as Somos Arte's La Borinqueña. Matt received his MFA from Columbia University.

Gordon Penn (Black Garden) is a visual artist, playwright and performer. Black Garden was inspired by Arthur Makaryan who is directing this reading as well as previous workshops at The Tank NYC; Théâtre de l'Opprimé, Paris; Shapiro Theatre at Columbia University of New York. Gordon is a frequent collaborator with director/choreographer Ann Cooley. Their projects include workshops of the violent military comedy Into The Zone at The Pershing Square Signature Theatre, Shapiro Theatre of Columbia University, and Shanghai Theatre Academy, China (Mandarin Translation); The PTSD play Thank You For Your Service at The City College of New York. Gordon is a proud veteran of the United States Army. While on active duty, Gordon was a member of the 3rd Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard" Escort To The President of the United States. On January 20, 2009 Gordon proudly participated in the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Gordon continues to serve as public affairs specialist for the United States Army Reserve with the 361st Public Affairs, Fort Totten, Queens. In Chicago, Gordon founded the publicity, marketing, theatrical production and talent management company Big Mouth. Clients included the Joseph Jefferson Award winning production of Angels In America (directed by David Cromer); Robert Dubac's The Male Intellect an Oxymoron, Kahil El Zabar and Kurt Elling's Chicago Now; I Came to New York to Write by Robert Patrick at the Organic Theatre; Actors Are People Who Lie To You by Andy Cobb at the Bailiwick Theatre; Writers Theatre and The National Runaway Switchboard. Gordon is a graduate of The Second City Training Center and Improv Olympic (now IO). Artistic Director and founder of Mindworks Theatre Company (improvisational based children's creative writing program). In Los Angeles, Gordon managed the acting career of Sean Gunn; placing him on Gilmore Girls and guiding Sean from day player to series regular. Gordon is a theatrical military consultant. Projects include: An American Soldier by David Henry Hwang and Huang Ruo at The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Mental State (feature film), Dying City by Christopher Shinn at Second Stage Theater. A graduate of Fordham University with a BA in Visual Arts (Painting and Photography); Columbia University Graduate School of Art with an MFA in playwriting. Shubert Fellow for Columbia University School of Art Playwriting concentration, 2018 Hammerstein Prize winner. Upcoming: Workshop of Into The Zone (with director/choreographer Ann Cooley) at TheTank NYC in February of 2020; Gordon and director Arthur Makaryan's collaboration KGB 1937, set during Stalin's Great Terror of 1936-38.

GINA STEVENSEN (The Colony) is a playwright based in NYC. Her plays include Tell Me What I Want (The Tank's Ladyfest), The Colony (American Stage's 21st Century Voices New Play Festival, Semifinalist: Austin Film Festival Playwriting Competition & Bay Area Playwrights Festival), Cruel Sister (Semi-Finalist: O'Neill National Playwrights Conference), Kids (Williamstown Theatre Festival), and Book Of Esther (Top Ten Finalist: Jewish Playwriting Contest, Semi-Finalist: Princess Grace Award). She was a 2019 nominee for the Mentor Project at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Gina has been a guest lecturer at NYU's Open Arts program and is an Affiliated Artist with The Hess Collective. She teaches playwriting at Tribeca Performing Arts Center and The Writer's Rock. MFA Playwriting: Columbia University.

Director Bios

Jade King Carroll (Director, The Venetians) Jade King Carroll is a NYC based director. Selected credits include: Proof of Love (Audible/New York Theatre Workshop); Hello, From the Children of Planet Earth (Playwrights Realm); Detroit '67, Intimate Apparel, The Piano Lesson (McCarter Theatre); Having Our Say, The Piano Lesson (Hartford Stage); From the Author of (The Rep); Having Our Say (Long Wharf Theatre); The Revolutionists, Sunset Baby (City Theatre); Autumn's Harvest (Lincoln Center Institute); Skeleton Crew (Dorset Theater Festival, Marin Theater/Theatreworks - Palo Alto); Mr. Chickee's Funny Money (Atlantic Theater); alondra was here (Wild Project); The Etymology of Bird (CitiParks Summer Stages); A Trouble in Mind (Two River Theater & Playmaker's Rep); Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Whipping Man (Portland Stage). Associate Director for A Streetcar Named Desire and The Gin Game (Broadway); The Children's Monologues (Carnegie Hall). Jade received the Paul Green Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Professional. Past Fellowships & Awards: New York Theatre Workshop, Van Lier, Second Stage Theatre, Women's Project, McCarter Theatre, SUNY 40 under 40, TCG New Generations Future Leader, and Gates Millennium Scholar.

ARTHUR MAKARYAN (Director, Black Garden) is an NYC-based theatre and opera director and producer who works internationally. He was the recipient of the 2017-18 Opera Directing Fellowship at the Juilliard School. He holds masters' degrees in directing from Columbia University in NYC, La Sorbonne University in Paris and the Yerevan State Institute of Theater. As for practice and additional trainings, he has been trained at the Grotowski Institute, Suzuki Company of Toga in Japan, Stella Polaris Theatre in Norway and Acting International School in Paris. He has assisted Ivo van Hove at Toneelgroep Amsterdam; Stephen Wadsworth at Metropolitan Opera and Peter Jay Sharp Theatre in NYC; Darren Katz, the resident director for The Lion King musical on Broadway; Sybille Wilson at Royal Parc Theater in Brussels. His most recent credits as an opera and theatre director include the pilot of Oedipus in the District contemporary opera at the Armenian National Opera, Broken April at LenFest Center for Arts, the Simulacrum multimedia opera at 3LD Art and Technology Center, Hamlet Machine that has been touring in Armenia, Russia, Lithuania, Moldova, France and USA (off-Broadway) and Black Garden that had its workshop performances in Paris at Théâtre de l'Opprimé and at The Tank NYC. He co-founded Epsidon Theatre Company in Armenia in 2012 where he staged two musicals. In 2014, he made his Avignon-Off festival debut with A la vie, a la mort performance by Simone Rist. He is also the Faculty Advisor in the Performing Arts at the NY Arts Program, the Creative Armenia-AGBU Fellow and an SDC associate member. More at

Miranda Haymon (Director, The Colony) is a Princess Grace Award/Honoraria-winning writer, director and deviser of performance originally from Boston. Her recent projects include In the Penal Colony at Next Door @ NYTW, Mondo Tragic at The National Black Theatre, Erotophobia at Fordham University, and Eclipsed at Dartmouth College where she co-taught Contemporary Theater. She is an Associate Artist at Roundabout Theatre Company, a Resident Director at The Tank, a New Georges Affiliate Artist and 2019 Audrey Resident, a Space on Ryder Farm 2019 Creative Resident, member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab, the Wingspace Mentorship Program, a 2019/20 New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Directing Fellow, a Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellow, and a former Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage. Miranda is a graduate of Wesleyan University where she double majored in German Studies and Theater and was awarded the Rachel Henderson Theater Prize in Directing. Upcoming: We Are Proud To Present... (Sarah Lawrence College), Exception to the Rule (Roundabout Underground).

Finalist Bios

Melis Aker (Field, Awakening) is a writer, actor, musician from Turkey. She is a 2050 Playwriting fellow at NYTW, and a member of Ars Nova's Play Group. She was commissioned by the Atlantic Theatre Co. for their Middle Eastern Mixfest to develop her one-act Scraps and Things, and joined the Middle East America writers room hosted by Mona Mansour, Heather Raffo and Kareem Fahmy at the Lark. Melis' plays include: Field, Awakening (2018 Sundance Theatre Lab final-round, 2018 Berkeley Rep Ground Floor final-round, Lark's 2018 Van Lier New Voices Fellowship finalist) which was workshopped at Golden Thread's New Threads series and Corkscrew Festival at Paradise Factory; Manar (2017 Columbia@Roundabout finalist, 2016 Theatre503 Playwriting Award semifinalist) which was at The New Group's New Works series, LaMaMa, Golden Thread's 2017 ReOrient Festival, LPAC's 2017 Rough Draft Festival, and featured by Silk Road Rising on NPX; 330 Pegasus: A Love Letter (Lark's 2018 Jerome NY Fellowship finalist) which received a Noor Highlight series reading; Azul, Otra Vez, a play with music which was workshopped at the BRICLab Residency; Dragonflies (2019 Sundance Theatre Lab finalist); When My Mama was a Hittite (2018 Columbia@Roundabout finalist) and Gilded Isle, which received readings at NYTW. Acting credits include: "The Blacklist: Redemption" (NBC), Love in Afghanistan (Arena Stage / Roundabout), Daybreak (Pan Asian Rep), We Live in Cairo (New World Stages). Upcoming: Melis' screenplay "ARI" ("Bee") will be heading to the 2019 Cannes Film Festival as part of Maison des Scenaristes. Her pilot of Manar will be heading to Transatlantic Partners. Her play When My Mama was a Hittite will be receiving several readings at the Park Theatre (London). Melis gave a TEDx talk, and works as Ayad Akhtar's assistant. MFA Playwriting (Columbia), Acting (RADA), BA Drama/Philosophy (Tufts). Kevin Lin (literary) at CAA | Meg Pantera (acting) at Pantera/Murphy Agency.

ELISABETH FRANKEL (2076). Elisabeth Frankel's plays include The Visitors; 2076; The German Party; Neuroclear; The Progenies; and Jerusalem is Beautiful. Winner of the Kennedy Center Planet Earth Award; US Marine Corps Heritage Drama Prize; Young Playwrights Inc. National Competition; New Jersey Play Series; and Hopwood Prize for Drama. Finalist for the Playwrights Realm Fellowship; PlayPenn Writers Conference; Actors' Theatre of Louisville Heideman Award; Columbia@Roundabout Reading Series; Jewish Plays Project; and Drama League Beatrice Terry Residency. Twice semi-finalist for the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference. BFA in Theatre Directing, University of Michigan (Go Blue). MFA in Playwriting, Columbia University. Elisabeth co-hosts the podcast Feminist Popcorn.

DAYOUNG JEONG (Sweet Pee). Dayoung Jeong (first name pronounced like "da" in "ta-da!" and "young") is a theater artist from South Korea and an alumna of Columbia's MFA in Dramaturgy Program, Class of 2017. Her works cross the boundaries of artistic forms and national boundaries. She has maintained a close relationship with the Korean National Ballet, providing interpretation and dramaturgical support for the national premiere of ballets such as La Bayadére (choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich), The Sleeping Beauty (choreographed by Marcia Haydée), and Anna Karenina (choreographed by Christian Spuck) and the international premiere of Mata Hari (choreographed by Renato Zanella) and Hoy Rang (choreographed by Hyohyung Kang). Her own writing is not restricted to the conventional theater; from 2012 to 2013, she has written scripts for Ballet Talk for the KNB, in which gala performance is merged with a talk given by one of the dancers. In 2016, Dayoung also worked with Sejong Soloists to stage A Sunflower for Vincent, a marriage of monodrama and a string orchestra music, at Lotte Concert Hall. As well as introducing American and British works to the Korean audience, she is also a champion of Korean theater. Her major achievement includes the translation of Sister Mok-rahn which was presented at the PEN World Voices: International Play Festival 2017 and will be staged at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University for its 2019-2020 season.

DEVON KIDD (Not Even God) is a New York-based writer, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with aspirations of establishing his voice in various entertainment mediums including playwriting, television, and film. With a passion for writing both surrealist and realist works in fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, and drama, Devon possesses the ability to succeed in numerous genres while maintaining an informed artistic lens. Devon's chief goal as an artist is to both explore and expand the written possibilities of African-American life beyond American Chattel Slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, as these two periods dominate the conversation of the Black American experience within the very limited American Entertainment Cannon. Before coming to Columbia, Devon worked in a plethora of fields including politics, law, marketing, and community outreach, which has greatly influenced the breadth of his creative voice. Devon Kidd graduated Summa Cum Laude from Morehouse College with a Bachelor's Degree in English.

ADAM NORTH (Spin) is a 2021 MFA Playwriting Candidate at Columbia University from Los Angeles, California. Previous works include Home Delivery (Geffen Theater Annex), NeverWonderLand (Miles Memorial Playhouse) The Jungle Book (Miles Memorial Playhouse), and numerous sketch comedy shows with a company he co-founded, Bowling for Tiffany (UCB West, LA Comedy Fest, Let Live Theater, Theater Asylum). Adam co-wrote and co-directed Complete Works, a comedy feature about a national Shakespeare Competition, which is currently on Amazon Prime after spending a few years on Hulu. During his time in Los Angeles, Adam also worked as a film and television executive at Sony Pictures and Activision Blizzard Studios. There, he creatively oversaw development and production of such films as The Shallows, Passengers, Ghostbusters, and the forthcoming adaptation of the hit video game Call of Duty. Adam has an MFA in Film Producing from The University of Southern California's Peter Stark Producing Program, and a BA in English Literature from The University of Southern California.

Columbia University School of the Arts awards the Master of Fine Arts degree in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts and Writing and the Master of Arts degree in Film Studies; it also offers an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts. The School is a thriving, diverse community of talented, visionary and Committed Artists from around the world and a faculty comprised of acclaimed and internationally renowned artists, film and theatre directors, writers of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, playwrights, producers, critics and scholars. In 2015, the School marked the 50th Anniversary of its founding. In 2017, the School opened the Lenfest Center of the Arts, a multi-arts venue designed as a hub for the presentation and creation of art across disciplines on the University's new Manhattanville campus. The Lenfest Center hosts exhibitions, performances, screenings, symposia, readings, and lectures that present new, global voices and perspectives, as well as an exciting, publicly accessible home for Columbia's Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery. For more information visit Follow Columbia University School of the Arts on Twitter @ColumbiaSOA, Facebook and Instagram.

The Theatre Program at Columbia University School of the Arts is an international, collaborative and interdisciplinary graduate program named in honor of Oscar Hammerstein II, offering concentrations in Acting, Directing, Dramaturgy, Playwriting, Stage Management, and Theatre Management & Production. The Program's location in New York City, a global nexus of theatre, affords students the opportunity to experience a wide variety of theatrical productions, spaces, and performances available nowhere else. Students in the Program have the unparalleled opportunity to learn from-and work with-true visionaries in the theatre world; full-time faculty include David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, Charles L. Mee, Steven Chaikelson, James Calleri, Anne Bogart, Brian Kulick (Chair), Christian Parker, Andrei Serban, and Michael J. Passaro. Students have access to an extensive network of Columbia alumni who run prestigious Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatres; direct and perform in Tony- and other award-winning productions; work in every level of the professional theatre world; and teach, mentor, and engage with students on an ongoing basis. Notable alumni include Diane Paulus, Beau Willimon, Darko Tresnjak, Anson Mount, Barbara Whitman and Rachel Chavkin.

ABOUT THE TOW FOUNDATION: The Tow Foundation, established in 1988 by Leonard and Claire Tow, funds projects that offer transformative experiences to individuals and create collaborative ventures in fields where they see opportunities for breakthroughs, reform, and benefits for underserved populations. Investments focus on the support of innovative programs and system reform in the fields of juvenile and criminal justice, medicine, higher education and culture. For more information, visit or follow @Towfdn on Twitter and Facebook.

Education at Roundabout turns Roundabout's theaters into classrooms and classrooms into theaters, for more than 35,000 people each year throughout all five boroughs of New York City and around the country. For over 20 years, Roundabout has developed education programs that provide students with acces to the arts, encourage social and emotional learning, cultivate skills they will need to succeed in college and careers, and give their teachers the tools to help students flourish. Education at Roundabout has expanded to include diverse programming ranging from student matinees, to classroom residencies and school-wide partnerships in the NYC public schools, to professional development workshops for teachers, to audience engagement programming for our subscribers, to an apprenticeship and internship program, and our after-school program, Roundabout Youth Ensemble. For more information, visit, and

Roundabout Theatre Company celebrates the power of theatre by spotlighting classics from the past, cultivating new works of the present, and educating minds for the future. A not-for-profit company, Roundabout fulfills that mission by producing familiar and lesser-known plays and musicals; discovering and supporting talented playwrights; reducing the barriers that can inhibit theatergoing; collaborating with a diverse team of artists; building educational experiences; and archiving over five decades of production history.

Roundabout Theatre Company presents a variety of plays, musicals and new works on its five stages: Broadway's American Airlines Theatre, Studio 54 and Stephen Sondheim Theatre, and Off-Broadway's Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, which houses the Laura Pels Theatre and Black Box Theatre.

American Airlines is the official airline of Roundabout Theatre Company. Roundabout productions are supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Roundabout's 2019-2020 Broadway season includes The Rose Tattoo, by Tennessee Williams, starring Marisa Tomei, directed by Trip Cullman; A Soldier's Play by Charles Fuller, starring David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood, directed by Kenny Leon; Birthday Candles, by Noah Haidle, starring Debra Messing, directed by Vivienne Benesch; Caroline, or Change, by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori, starring Sharon D Clarke, directed by Michael Longhurst.

In 2019-2020, Roundabout will also present five new works Off-Broadway, including: Scotland, PA a new musical by Michael Mitnick and Adam Gwon, directed by Lonny Price; 72 Miles to Go... by Hilary Bettis, directed by Jo Bonney; ...what the end will be by Jiréh Breon Holder, directed by Margot Bordelon; Darling Grenadine, book, music & lyrics by Daniel Zaitchik, directed and choregraphed by Michael Berresse; and Exception to the Rule by Dave Harris, directed by Miranda Haymon.


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