Works by Christopher Shinn, Zakiyyah Alexander and More Set for EST's 36th MARATHON OF ONE-ACT PLAYS

By: Apr. 20, 2017
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Ensemble Studio Theatre and Radio Drama Network announced today the lineup for the 36th MARATHON OF ONE-ACT PLAYS, the biennial festival series of brand new plays from emerging playwrights.

Inspired by the format in which Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill honed their craft, EST held the first Marathon in 1977 and have since premiered new work from David Mamet, Tina Howe, Julia Cho, Qui Nguyen, John Guare, and more.

This year's selections of plays were chosen from 728 submissions to be presented across three different series from Sunday, May 14, 2017 through Friday, June 30, 2017.

Series A will begin on Sunday, May 14 and conclude on Monday, June 5 and feature the following new works:

Showtime Blues by France-Luce Benson

A potentially dangerous encounter, and major train delays, force Ameira and Demetrius to confront their internalized prejudice attitudes, and the harsh realities of life as a moving target.

El Grande by Maggie Bofill

When Adriana locks herself in the bathroom, declaring she will now be living there, her two sisters Yolanda and Antonia have to get her out. This crazy adventure reveals a shocking secret, and shows them for who they really are: Una familia, where no matter how volatile things might get, at the end of the day, love reigns supreme.

Blue Handed by David Zellnik

A soldier testifies about an atrocity committed against an Arab civilian, while his interrogator wrestles with a deeply-buried memory of childhood shame. A short, sharp poetic meditation on guilt and how other people's stories come to live in us.

The Fork by Emily Chadick Weiss

Joyce, a proud grandma and leader in her field, is about to retire and feels she should use this time to assassinate the President. However, her children know this urge is about more than just politics.

How My Grandparents Fell in Love by Cary Gitter

In 1933, Charlie, a Polish Jew who has immigrated to America, returns to the Old Country in search of a wife-and then he meets Chava in a hat shop.

Series B will begin on Sunday, May 28 and conclude on Monday, June 26 and feature the following new plays:

Disney and Fujikawa by Lloyd Suh

A meeting of two very different cartoonists, Gyo Fujikawa and Walt Disney, in 1942. An uncomfortable conversation on power, personal responsibility, and the art of animation at a time of great uncertainty and national crisis.

Down Cleghorn by Julia Specht

Deanna Zalinski is just trying to drop by her daughter's house to say hello on a Saturday afternoon. But when she discovers that both of her children are baking a casserole to pay their respects to a recently deceased neighbor, she can't understand why. Down Cleghorn is a love letter to central Massachusetts, and a reflection on motherhood, food, and self-centeredness.

Linus and Murray by Leah Nanako Winkler

Linus is a cat. Murray is dog. But that doesn't even begin to describe their differences. An unlikely pair works through modern cultural issues to see if they can be neighbors and maybe even friends. It's a comedy.

On the Outs by Christina Gorman

After almost two decades, Jonas is back. Leticia is his only surviving link to his past-whether she likes it or not. Becoming reacquainted ain't easy for these two long ago lovers as they grapple with conflicting definitions of what is "home."

Falling Away by Christopher Shinn

A woman and a man sit discussing their lives. As they talk, the nature of their relationship - and the agonizing question between them - is finally confronted.

Series C will begin on Saturday, June 10 and conclude Friday, June 30 and feature the following new plays:

The Good Muslim by Zakiyyah Alexander

Aliah is a New Yorker and a hard-working college student. But, she's also a Muslim-American in a troubled time. A play about being comfortable in your own skin...or hijab.

Female Beginner by Edith Freni

On the night of an important fundraising dinner for her father's reelection campaign, 18-year-old "Golden Child" Amelia challenges the content of a speech she's been asked to give in his honor. Daddy insists that she must do the speech as written but Amelia demands that they revise the ending. When she reveals her reasons for the last-minute change, Daddy is forced to justify the foundational myths of their family's local political dynasty or risk exposure.

Good Results Are Difficult When Indifference Predominates by Amy Fox

"When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible." In 1949, Singer sewing machines came with these instructions. Sixty-eight years later, two cousins grapple with these words and the legacy of their grandmother as they prepare their pussy hats for the Women's March on Washington.

Intensive Care by Donald Marcus

Late one night, two strangers from different worlds meet in a deserted Florida cafeteria.

Santa Doesn't Come to the Holiday Inn by Elyzabeth Wilder

When Annie and Peter get stuck together in a hotel room, they try to keep the magic of Christmas alive for their daughter, despite their failed marriage.

Directors, cast, and creative teams will be announced at a later date.

Tickets are $25 and are available at or by calling 866-811-4111. Student, senior, and member tickets are available for $20. Series pass options are also available at $40 for a 2-series pass and $60 for a 3-series pass. Performance dates and times vary - check for more information.


France-Luce Benson is a proud member at Ensemble Studio Theatre. She is an NEA Grant Recipient, winner of the Samuel French OOB Festival, Dramatist Guild Fellow 2015-1016, winner of the NNPN Award for Short Playwriting, and was awarded a residency at the Djerassi Resident Artists program. Additional honors include: Playwright Fellow at the Eugene O'Neill NPC, The Kilroys List- Honorable Mention; Alfred P. Sloan New Play Commission; Alfred P. Sloan Award for best screenplay, and a Princess Grace Award Runner Up. Her plays have been produced by Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Fire This Time Festival, City Theatre of Miami, Crossroads Theatre, The Billy Holiday Theatre, and Loyola Marymount University among others. She's been published by Samuel French and Routledge press. She earned an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, is an Associate Professor at St. John's University.

Maggie Diaz Bofill is a proud member of EST, a founding member of LAByrinth Theater Company, a member of the Playwright Directors Unit at the Actor's Studio, and The Dramatists Guild. She has had three productions in NYC: Winners, Directed by Pam Berlin, (part of a Special Drama Desk Award winning season at EST) Face Cream (EST) and Drawn and Quartered, Directed by Lou Moreno at INTAR (NY Times Critic's Pick). She has been published in Best Men's Stage Monologues of 2015, Smith and Krauss Publishers, She has taken part in New York Madness, Sticky Series Live Bar Plays, One Minute Play Festivals, and had several readings and workshops in theaters throughout the city. Maggie is also an actor, and feels honored to be in the Marathon, one of her favorite events ever!

David Zellnik's musicals with composer Joe Zellnik include "Yank!" (Off-Broadway, 7 Drama Desk nominations; in 2017, productions in Manchester, London, and Rio), City of Dreams, Flight, and the upcoming Ruth and the Panda. His plays include Serendib (EST), Let A Hundred Flowers Bloom, The F**king Wright Brothers, Ariel Sharon Stands at the Temple Mount and Dreams of Theodor Herzl, and The Udmurts, as well as EST Marathon one-acts Killing Hand, Ideogram, and For Elise. With Ismail Khalidi, he has recently created, a multi-artist project that works to change the discourse around Israel/Palestine, set to launch in June with 12 plays written by Naomi Wallace, Kia Corthron, Yussef El Guindi, among many others. "Blue Handed" was written for this project under the pseudonym Ah@d Ha'@m, inspired by and using some of the testimony of the Israeli NGO "Breaking the Silence." David is donating all proceeds to that organization.

Emily Chadick Weiss is a writer for the PBS Kids TV Show "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood." Her screenplay, The Life and Times Of and her pilot, "Stunt," were both finalists at The Austin Film Festival. Her independent pilot script, "The Share," won the WILDsound Film Festival. She is a four-time Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Science and Technology Grant recipient. Her plays have been performed with The Big Funk Company in Paris, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Kennedy Center, The Araca Group, The Lark, New Georges, Naked Angels, The 52nd St Project, Theatre Breaking Through Barriers, Three-Legged Dog, Caps Lock Theatre, and she is a winner of Young Playwrights Inc. National Playwriting Contest. A graduate of Northwestern University, Emily is a member playwright at Ensemble Studio Theatre and was a member of their playwriting group for emerging writers, Youngblood. Her play, The Last Party, is published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. Her piece on Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles, "Women, Where are We Going" is published in The Dramatist Magazine.

Cary Gitter is a member of EST/Youngblood. His plays include After Dad, Menorah, Youth Group, and The Smelly Girl and have been developed or produced at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Flea Theater, NYU, and the Tank. He is a Jewish Playwriting Contest finalist and a two-time O'Neill semifinalist, and he received NYU's John Golden Playwriting Prize. He is a mentor in the PEN Prison Writing Program. BFA, MA: NYU. He dedicates this play to the memory of his father, Sidney Gitter.

Lloyd Suh is the author of Charles Francis Chan Jr's Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (NAATCO at Walkerspace, forthcoming at Guthrie with Mu Performing Arts), The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! (Children's Theatre Company, Ma-Yi with La Mama, ArtsEmerson, Cultural Center of the Philippines), American Hwangap (Magic, Ma-Yi, Halcyon/A-Squared, Cultural Center of the Philippines, with PCPA in Seoul, Korea), Jesus in India (Magic, Ma-Yi), Great Wall Story (Denver Center), and others. He has received support from the NEA Arena Stage New Play Development program, the Andrew W. Mellon Launching New Plays Into the Repertoire initiative via the Lark, NYFA, NYSCA, Jerome Foundation, TCG and Dramatists Guild. His plays have been published by Sam French, Smith & Kraus, Duke University Press and American Theatre magazine. He is an alum of Youngblood and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, resident playwright at New Dramatists, and member of EST. He currently serves on the Dramatists Guild Council and has since 2011 served as Director of Artistic Programs at The Lark.

Julia Specht is a Brooklyn-based writer, born and bred in central Massachusetts. Past theatrical credits include Partners & Bridal Boutique (Dirty Blondes), Allston Rat City (Warner International Playwriting Competition semifinalist), and Patty (currently in workshop). She also writes fiction, loves her parents, and is a Taurus.

Leah Nanako Winkler's play Kentucky (2015 Kilroys List) recently received its world premiere at Ensemble Studio Theatre in a coproduction with Page 73 and The Radio Drama Network, and a subsequent West Coast Premiere at East West Players. Other works include Death For Sydney Black (terraNova Collective), The Adventures of Minami: The Robot From Japan Who Makes You Feel Safe When Loneliness Is Palpable (The Brick), Double Suicide At Ueno Park!!! (EST/Marathon) and Two Mile Hollow (upcoming this fall at Artists at Play LA). Publications include Sam French, Dramatists Play Service and American Theatre Magazine. She is a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Playwrights Group, Ma Yi, Ensemble Studio Theatre, a 2016 -2018 Time Warner fellow at the Women's Project and a 2017 Sundance/Ucross fellow. Learn more at Tweet @leahnanako

Christina Gorman's plays have been produced and/or developed at The Public Theater, Alley Theatre, American Blues Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Hangar Theatre, Capital Repertory Theatre, Prospect Theatre Company, Samuel French Short Play Festival, New Harmony Project, NYC's Summer Play Festival, Stageworks/Hudson, Playwrights Foundation, Lark Play Development Center, Stella Adler Studios, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Luna Stage, |the claque|, and Theatre Artists Studio. Christina is an inaugural member of The Public Theater Emerging Writers Group. She is a former New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, Ensemble Studio Theatre New Voices Fellow, Stella Adler Studios Harold Clurman Playwright-in-Residence, and Women's Project Playwright Lab member. She is an Artistic Affiliate at American Blues Theater.

Christopher Shinn is the author of twelve plays, including Now or Later (shortlisted for the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play), Dying City (Pulitzer Prize Finalist), and Where Do We Live (Obie in Playwriting). His work has recently been produced by the Donmar Warehouse, Goodman Theatre, and Hartford Stage, and is forthcoming at the Almeida. He is an alum of Youngblood, which produced his one-act Sockdolager in 1997.

Zakiyyah Alexander is a writer and actor, and a native New Yorker raised in Queens and Brooklyn. Her plays include: the musical Girl Shakes Loose (Penumbra Theater), Sick? (Summer Play Festival), The Etymology of Bird (Central Park Summerstage, Hip Hop Theater Festival, Providence Black Repertory Theatre), Blurring Shine (Market Theater, Johannesburg, NY International Fringe Festival), Sweet Maladies (Brava Arts Center, Rucker Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival), Something New (commissioned by Philadelphia Theater Company), and (900). A former resident of New Dramatists, her work has been developed at: O'Neill Musical Conference, The MacDowell Colony, The Lark, Second Stage, etc. Past commissions: Ensemble Studio Theatre, Second Stage, The Philadelphia Theater Company and the Children's Theater of Minneapolis. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama (MFA in playwriting), Zakiyyah has is a co-founder of parity advocacy group, The Kilroys; her work was included on the 2015 Kilroys List of most nominated plays by women. Currently, she is a story editor on the upcoming Fox show, 24 Legacy.

Edith Freni holds both her BFA and MFA from NYU's Department of Dramatic Writing. Her work has been produced and developed in New York and nationally at theaters including EST and EST West, LAByrinth Theater Company, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Actor's Express in Atlanta; Profile Theater Company in Portland, OR; City Theatre in Miami and at Nashville Repertory Theatre. Edith was a long-time member of Youngblood and is also a member of Obie-winning Partial Comfort Productions. She was a 2015-16 Ingram New Works Lab resident playwright at Nashville Repertory Theater; the recipient of a New Territories Playwriting Residency at Serenbe Playhouse in January 2016, and a fellowship at the 2016 Sewanee Writers' Conference. Edith was the inaugural Emory University Playwriting Fellow from 2014-16 and is currently serving as the Tennessee Williams Playwright-in-Residence at The University of the South in Sewanee, TN. For all else:

Amy Fox writes plays, screenplays and nonfiction. Most recently she wrote the screenplay for Equity, the female-driven Wall Street film which premiered at Sundance 2016 and was released by Sony Pictures Classics. Amy was a member of Youngblood and has been a proud member of EST since 2002. Fox's plays have been produced in New York, London, Tehran, San Francisco, Austin, and St. Paul. Amy has received writing commissions from the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, and been nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She is on the screenwriting faculty of NYU 's Graduate Film Program. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two children.

Donald Marcus has enjoyed a long career in theatre and television in New York, Los Angeles, and London. He is gratified to be returning to EST, of which he and his wife, Lisa Milligan, were founding members. Mr. Marcus would like to dedicate Intensive Care to his mentor, EST founder, Curt Dempster.

Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder's plays include Gee's Bend, Fresh Kills, The Flagmaker of Market Street, The Furniture of Home, White Lightning, and Provenance. Her plays have been produced at the Royal Court (London), Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center, Cleveland Play House, KC Rep, Northlight, the Arden, B Street Theatre, and Hartford Stage, among others. Most recently her play, Everything That's Beautiful premiered at the New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Commissions and workshops include A Requiem for August Moon (Pioneer Theatre), The Bone Orchard (Denver Center, Great Plains Theatre Conference), and a short play for the acclaimed My America, Too project (Baltimore Center Stage), as well as four commissions from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Elyzabeth was the recipient of the Osborn Award given by the American Theatre Critics Association. Elyzabeth is a graduate of the dramatic writing program at New York University. She is a proud alumnus of Youngblood at the EST, where her play The First Day of Hunting Season was featured in Thicker Than Water. Most recently Elyzabeth was the Tennessee Williams Playwright-in-Residence at Sewanee: The University of the South. You can learn more about her work at or follow along as she celebrates turning 40 at

Ensemble Studio Theatre - commonly known as EST - was founded in 1968 by Curt Dempster on the belief that extraordinary support yields extraordinary work. We are a dynamic and expanding family of member artists committed to the discovery and nurturing of new voices and the continued support and growth of artists throughout their creative lives. Through our unique collaborative process we develop and produce original, provocative, and authentic new plays that engage and challenge our audience and audiences across the country.

Now with over 600 ensemble artists, EST has been under the artistic direction of William Carden since 2007. The company received two 2013 Drama Desk Award nominations for Finks by Joe Gilford and one 2014 Drama Desk nomination for Bobby Moreno in Year Of The Rooster by Olivia Dufault, who won the 2014 NY Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award for a new playwright debut. Hand To God, originated at EST, was nominated for five Tony Awards for its Broadway run. EST received a special Drama Desk Award for its "unwavering commitment to producing new works" in May of 2015.

The Radio Drama Network (Melina Brown, President) was founded by legendary audio drama director and producer, Himan Brown, to support art forms that use the spoken word to enrich our culture. Himan was a champion of all storytellers, from the tradition of the earliest stranger who wandered from town to town with tales of the latest news, to Academy Award winning writers that contributed to his thousands of radio dramas, to the writers silenced by the Red Scare who were just trying to feed their families; Himan strove to keep writers writing and actors acting, telling tales that spun out in the grandest oral traditions of history, often addressing important social issues. Himan was the son of immigrants who became an actor, a director/producer and a gifted orator early in his life. His medium was the new frontier of radio. He began his career reading Yiddish stories over the airwaves from hotel bathrooms fashioned into audio studios, and quickly moved from packaging and starring in shows such as Rise of the Goldbergs to creating his own shows. During the height of radio, he created hundreds of radio series such as Inner Sanctum, Little Italy, Grand Central Station, Dick Tracy, The Shadow, Bulldog Drummond, and The Thin Man. Following television's rise, he resurrected audio drama on the airwaves with CBS Radio Mystery Theater and Adventure Theater. Himan Brown lamented the dearth of dramatic and interesting programming on today's airwaves, and he continued to create shows and series well into his 90s. Himan created the Radio Drama Network as a family foundation to continue his philanthropic work. He was a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather who doted on his great-grandchildren. Himan Brown died three weeks' shy of 100 years old in 2010.