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Ojai Playwrights Announces 2022 New Works Festival Featuring Vivian Barnes, Lyndsey Bourne, Bill Cain & More

Playwrights will participate in play development workshops with actors, directors, dramaturges and OPC's artistic staff, culminating in public presentations.

Ojai Playwrights Announces 2022 New Works Festival Featuring Vivian Barnes, Lyndsey Bourne, Bill Cain & More

Ojai Playwrights Conference has announced 11 playwrights for the 25th Anniversary New Works Festival taking place August 7-14, 2022, in Ojai, CA, marking a return to in-person workshops and live performances after two years of working online.

Playwrights and plays set to be part of the OPC New Works Festival include Vivian Barnes, "The Sensational Sea Mink-Ettes"; Bill Cain, "God's Spies"; Jahna Ferron-Smith, "Running While Black"; Peter Kim George, "To Red Tendons"; Stephen Adly Guirgis, "Dog Day Afternoon"; Matthew Paul Olmos, "a home what howls (or the house what was ravine)"; Michael Shayan, "Avaaz"; Zakiya Young "Suburban Black Girl"; and Anna Ziegler, "The Janeiad."

Playwrights will participate in play development workshops with actors, directors, dramaturges and OPC's artistic staff, culminating in public presentations. Playwright bios and details on the plays and performance days and times are listed below.

Writers in Residence Zora Howard and Lyndsey Bourne will take part in a non-public play development process.

OPC Artistic Director/Producer Robert Egan shared his thoughts about the coming events, "It is with great anticipation that I look ahead to our 2022 New Works Festival in Ojai. To be back with our audience, with these visionary playwrights will be both gratifying and inspiring. It is our 25th Anniversary Season, and to assemble this group of veteran and emerging artists who passionately and eloquently address the great challenges of our world is a fitting end to my tenure as leader of OPC." Egan steps away from his leadership role at the end of 2022.

In addition to the New Works Festival plays, OPC is presenting special events at the Zalk Theater, opening the Festival with "OPC25: The Legacy Continues," an Intersection Event, on August 7 at 7 p.m.; an OPC Artistic Intern Workshop Presentation on August 8 at 7 p.m.; and an OPC Youth Workshop Performance on August 10 at 7 p.m.

Festival passes are $300; individual event tickets are $30. All tickets go on sale July 6, 2022, at:

At Matilija Auditorium

Vivian Barnes

"The Sensational Sea Mink-Ettes" Saturday, August 13 at 8 p.m.

The Sea Mink-ettes are the best dance team around and Homecoming is their time to shine. As the big day creeps closer, petty infighting and the quest for excellence threaten to tear the group apart. And then...shit gets weird. Very weird. And the world keeps going and going and going.

BIO: Vivian Barnes is a Los Angeles-based writer. She is a Playwrights Center Venturous Fellow (formerly at The Lark) and a member of The Geffen Playhouse's 2021-22 Writers' Room. Her work was produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville's 44th Humana Festival and in Steppenwolf Theatre's digital NOW series. She has developed plays with Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage Theater, Clubbed Thumb, Montana Repertory Theatre and Ojai Playwrights Conference. In television, she has staffed on shows at Amazon and UCP/Peacock.

Bill Cain

"God's Spies" Sunday, August 14 at 6 p.m.
What do you write after you have written the world's greatest play? Hopefully, not another "Timon of Athens." Fortunately for Shakespeare, he is caught in the middle of the pandemic of 1603 and theatres are closed for a year. The plague opens his eyes to the mysteries of life and death when he is quarantined with a young Puritan lawyer and a mature streetwise prostitute. Will Shakespeare thrive creatively? Will his follow up play be as disappointing as his last? Or will he write his masterpiece?
BIO: The author of "Equivocation" (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage, Geffen Playhouse and Manhattan Theatre Club), "9 Circles "(Marin Theatre, Bootleg and Sheen Center), "How to Write a New Book for the Bible" (Berkeley Rep, Seattle Rep and South Coast Rep) and "Stand-Up Tragedy" (Mark Taper Forum, Arena Stage, Hartford Stage and ultimately Broadway). Bill received the 2009 and 2010 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award. Cain has spent eight summers at OPC developing his plays.

Jahna Ferron-Smith

"Running While Black" Sunday, August 14 at 3 p.m.
Nicole is an unmarried, nearly 30-year-old Black Creative living in Brooklyn, New York in 2019. How does she stay grounded? She runs. The play follows one Black woman's journey to becoming a consistent, recreational jogger and the circumstances that drove her to that point. The consequences of 30 years' worth of coping mechanisms begin manifesting uncontrollably, as Nicole is finally overwhelmed by the one thing she can't outrun: change.
BIO: Jahna Ferron-Smith is a recent graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellowship at the Juilliard School, and current member of the Obie Award-winning playwrights collective, Youngblood (EST), as well as Page 73. Her plays have been performed at Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. Her plays include "The Woods" (Venturous Playwright Fellowship winner; support from SPACE on Ryder Farm), "Running While Black" (Ojai Playwrights Conference Foundry Project) and "SIR" (published by Samuel French).

Peter Kim George

"To Red Tendons" Sunday, August 14 at 12 p.m.
We still don't know how to talk about what happened in Los Angeles on April 29, 1992, and it's a problem. A group of semi-professional young actors (all engaged in some side-hustle to survive) come together briefly to re-enact 'primal scenes' from the Los Angeles unrest in 1992 using elements of group psychotherapy. Why don't liberals acknowledge American empire? How do the unseens of empire structure what is visible? We're just trying to live. "To Red Tendons" deals with seething anger turned inward, and a desire for reconciliation.
BIO: California born and New York based, Peter Kim George is a Korean diaspora playwright. He did his PhD at Brown University on the 19thcentury novel before writing for theatre. His plays include "Men Accumulate" (Bay Area Playwrights Festival finalist, Princess Grace Award semi-finalist, NormalAve NAPseries) and "Protest" (Rhino Festival). Alumni of Ensemble Studio Theatre's Youngblood. B.A.: University of California Berkeley.

Stephen Adly Guirgis

"Dog Day Afternoon" Thursday, August 11 at 7 p.m. An Intersection Event.
On August 22, 1972, the hottest day of the year, three men entered the Chase Manhattan Bank on East 5th Street in Gravesend Brooklyn and attempted a robbery. Attempted....A fierce and fiery stage adaptation of the legendary film.
BIO: An award-winning playwright, actor, and long time member of NYC's LAByrinth Theater Company, hailed for his exuberant language, dazzling imagination and deep empathy for the material and spiritual struggles of his urban characters, Guirgis is one of the defining voices of 21st century American theatre. The author of numerous plays, three of which he developed at OPC: his Broadway debut "The Motherf**ker with the Hat," the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Between Riverside & Crazy" and "The Little Flower of East Orange." His latest play, "Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven" premiered to great acclaim Off-Broadway. He currently appears on the HBO show "Winning Time" as Lakers owner Jerry Buss' loyal friend and business partner Frank Mariani.

Matthew Paul Olmos

"a home what howls (or the house what was ravine)" Saturday, August 13 at 4 p.m
After the Vargas Family is displaced from their home, the parents try to live off the land, but the fear of the outside is like a never-ending nightmare. Meanwhile, their daughter attempts to fight their fight legally, against the gears of progress. Inspired by the communities of Chavez Ravine.
BIO: Three-time Sundance Institute Fellow/Resident, Humana Festival, Ojai Playwrights Conference Foundry Project playwright, New Dramatists Resident, Arizona Theatre Company's National Latinx awardee, Center Theatre Group's L.A. Writers' Workshop and Geffen Writers' Room playwright, Ingram New Works at Nashville Repertory and Oregon Shakespeare Festival BLACK SWAN playwright; Princess Grace awardee, Repertorio Español Nuestra Voces awardee, La MaMa's Ellen Stewart awardee (selected by Sam Shepard). Mentored by Ruth Maleczech (Mabou Mines/SUITE) and Taylor Mac (Cherry Lane Mentor Project). Former Fellow/resident: Baryshnikov Arts Center, INTAR, Latinx Theatre Commons, New York Theatre Workshop, Primary Stages; Ensemble Studio Theater lifetime member; Echo Theatre Resident Playwright; Kilroys nominator.

Michael Shayan

"Avaaz" Friday, August 12 at 8:30 p.m.
It's Nowruz - the Iranian New Year - and who better to spend it with than our fabulous hostess, Roya? She'll teach you how to celebrate in style. They say that on Nowruz, the souls of ancestors come alive and visit. Perhaps that's what's happening here tonight. Or maybe it's just the strong Persian chai.

BIO: Michael Shayan is a queer Iranian-American writer and performer from "Tehran-geles," California. He received the inaugural Sundance Institute Uprise Grant. Recent playwriting credits include Audible, The Geffen Playhouse, SPACE on Ryder Farm, South Coast Repertory, La MaMa, New York Stage & Film, Rattlestick, The Lark, Dixon Place and Stillwright, among others. He's received honors from The Kennedy Center and Lambda Literary as an LGBTQ Voices Fellow in Playwriting. TV projects include "Book of Queer" (Discovery+) and "We're Here" (HBO). At 13, he was the youngest performer at the Hollywood Magic Castle.

Zakiya Young

"Suburban Black Girl" Friday, August 12 at 6 p.m.
Zakiya Young: poster child for racial reconciliation. She code switches with lightning speed. White sorority? Like, no prob. A Black and Latino church with a White pastor? She'll praise God in Spanish! Broadway? Is it color blind casting or an all-Black show? Doesn't matter because this suburban Black girl has mastered the art of being 'non-threatening.' But when COVID lockdowns put a spotlight on police killing unarmed Black people, everything she suppressed begins seeping out like an infected wound.
BIO: Zakiya Young was an OPC Foundry Project playwright in 2021 and is honored to have this opportunity to continue her exploration of Black suburban life in this autobiographical play. Favorite acting credits include: Broadway: "Stick Fly," "The Little Mermaid" and "Radio City Christmas Spectacular." Off-Broadway: "Storyville" (Audelco Award nomination). Regional: "Familiar," "Spamilton," "Disgraced" and "It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman." Watch her this summer in "Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin" on HBO Max.

Anna Ziegler

"The Janeiad" Saturday, August 13 at 1 p.m.
In "The Odyssey," Penelope's long wait is eventually rewarded when Odysseus returns 20 years after leaving to fight the Trojan War. Will the same be true for Jane in Brooklyn in 2021, 20 years after her husband left for work one fateful September morning? A play about longing and hope as well as the myths we tell ourselves in order to get through the day, "The Janeiad" is a wry contemplation of the power, and slipperiness, of storytelling.
BIO: Anna Ziegler's plays include the widely produced "Photograph 51" (West End, directed by Michael Grandage and starring Nicole Kidman; named the number one play of 2019 by the Chicago Tribune; winner of London's WhatsOnStage Award for Best New Play; published in Bloomsbury's Modern Classics series), "The Last Match" (Roundabout; Old Globe; Writers Theatre), "The Wanderers" (Old Globe; upcoming at the Roundabout in 2023) and "Actually" (Geffen Playhouse; Williamstown; Manhattan Theatre Club; Trafalgar Studios and many more; L.A. Ovation Award winner).


Zora Howard is a Harlem-bred writer and performer. Plays include "Stew" (2021 Pulitzer Prize Finalist; Page 73), "The Master's Tools" (WTF), "Bust" (2022 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist), "Hang Time" (2022 Creative Capital Award Finalist) and "Good Faith." In 2020, her film "Premature" (2020 Film Independent John Cassavetes Award nominee), which she co-wrote with director Rashaad Ernesto Green, opened in theatres following its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Howard is the inaugural Judith Champion Fellow at MTC, a 2022 Lilly Award recipient and is currently under commission from Seattle Rep, MTC, and Wessex Grove. She will be developing her newest play, "Good Faith."

Lyndsey Bourne is a queer Canadian playwright, teacher and doula working with The Doula Project. Her plays have been developed with The Tank, Dixon Place, La MaMa, New Georges, Judson, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Brooklyn College, Williams College, Playwrights Horizons, SPACE on Ryder Farm, New York Stage and Film and Ars Nova. Lyndsey teaches at Playwrights Horizons Theater School (NYU), is a New Georges affiliated artist, a member of the New Georges Jam, a 2022 New Georges Audrey Resident, a finalist for the 2022 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference, semi-finalist for the Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship (2021) and the recipient of a 2020 NYC Women's Fund for Media, Music and Theatre Grant. BFA NYU, MFA Brooklyn College (with Mac Wellman and Erin Courtney). Barnes will be developing two new works with OPC: "Sister" and "The Second Body."


Since 1998, theatre professionals and enthusiastic audiences have converged in Ojai to participate in the development of new plays for the American theatre. Plays developed at OPC have gone on to have numerous productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and at regional theatres across the country. Some have been nominated for and won prestigious awards. Both "Fun Home" by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, and Jon Robin Baitz's "Other Desert Cities" were Pulitzer Finalists; "Fun Home" won the Tony Award for Best Musical; and Danai Gurira's "Eclipsed" and Stephen Adly Guirgis' "The Motherf**ker with the Hat" were each nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. In 2019, OPC received the LADCC Gordon Davidson Award for distinguished contribution to the Los Angeles theatrical community.
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Ojai Playwrights Conference is announcing 11 playwrights for the 25th Anniversary New Works Festival taking place August 7-14, 2022, in Ojai, CA, marking a return to in-person workshops and live performances after two years of working online.
OPC 25th Anniversary New Works Festival playwrights include Vivian Barnes, Bill Cain, Jahna Ferron-Smith, Peter Kim George, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Matthew Paul Olmos, Michael Shayan, Zakiya Young, and Anna Ziegler, who will participate in play development workshops with actors, directors, dramaturges and OPC's artistic staff, culminating in public presentations. (Writers in Residence Zora Howard and Lyndsey Bourne will participate in non-public development work for their plays.) In addition to the New Works Festival plays, OPC is also presenting special events.


Sunday, August 7 at 7 p.m.
Festival Opening/Intersection Event
"OPC25: The Legacy Continues"

Monday, August 8 at 7 p.m.
OPC Artistic Intern Workshop Presentation
Free Event

Wednesday, August 10 at 7 p.m.
OPC Youth Workshop Performance

Thursday, August 11 at 7 p.m.
Intersection Event
"Dog Day Afternoon" by Stephen Adly Guirgis

Friday, August 12 at 6 p.m.
"Suburban Black Girl" by Zakiya Young

Friday, August 12 at 8:30 p.m.
"Avaaz" by Michael Shayan

Saturday, August 13 at 1 p.m.
"The Janeiad" by Anna Ziegler

Saturday, August 13 at 4 p.m.
"a home what howls (or the house what was ravine)" by Matthew Paul Olmos

Saturday, August 13 at 8 p.m.
"The Sensational Sea Mink-Ettes" by Vivian Barnes

Sunday, August 14 at 12 p.m.
"To Red Tendons" by Peter Kim George

Sunday, August 14 at 3 p.m.
"Running While Black" by Jahna Ferron-Smith

Sunday, August 14 at 6 p.m.
"God's Spies" by Bill Cain

Zalk Theater at Besant School, 8585 N. Ojai Rd., Ojai, 93023
Matilija Auditorium, 703 El Paseo Rd., Ojai, CA 93023

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