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Nine writers set for Echo Theater
Company’s 2020 Playwright’s Lab
LOS ANGELES (May 28, 2020) — Los Angeles-based Echo Theater Company, dedicated to creating new work for the theater, has announced the nine writers who will participate in the company’s 2020 Playwrights Lab. Facilitated by co-directors Darcy Fowler and Stephanie Ward, playwrights Agnes Borinsky, Dylan Dawson, LaShea Delaney, Lucas Kavner, Claire Kiechel, Roger Q. Mason, Anna Moench, Brian Otaño and Christopher Sullivan will work together to develop new material in a safe, structured environment — sharing their work, receiving feedback from their peers, and concluding with a series of public readings of the plays that have been written within the lab community.
The writers will meet once a month, via Zoom for the time being, bringing new pages they are working on to each meeting. The goal is to have the first draft of a new play completed by the end of the year.
“Our purpose is to offer the writers a structure, a place to come together to have deadlines and discuss their writing,” says Ward, a theater and television director/producer who has directed and developed work at Lincoln Center, Yale Rep, The Old Globe, The Flea, Drama League and at Youngblood, Ensemble Studio Theatre’s OBIE-winning collective of emerging professional playwrights under the age of 30 — where she and Fowler first met.
“This is an opportunity for us to offer support to the voices we admire,” agrees Fowler, a playwright and screenwriter whose credits include Season 4 of Neflix’s Glow as well as work at theaters like Ensemble Studio Theatre, Primary Stages and Ars Nova in New York and the Cochrane and Old Vic in London.
The selection of writers for this year’s Lab was an organic process, they explain. “We joined forces with [Echo artistic director] Chris Fields and [literary manager] Alana Dietze. Together, the four of us put together a list of playwrights we admire. Then we read a lot of plays.”
The result is a group of funny, deep, diverse and resilient professional writers who are trying to figure out what theater is going to look like at the end of this year:
Agnes Borinsky (née Alex) is a writer and performer, originally from Baltimore, currently living in Los Angeles. She makes work about how and why people gather. Her plays have been developed with theaters and community centers in New York, Los Angeles, and Beirut. Her first young adult novel, Sasha Masha, is a queer coming-of- age story and comes out this fall (FSG). She works at Skylight Books.
Dylan Dawson is a screenwriter, playwright and performer. He is currently writing an original feature for Dreamworks Animation and co-writing the adult animated series Wild Life for SyFy, featuring Reggie Watts, John Reynolds and Claudia O’Doherty. He recently wrote on the upcoming FXX animated series, Black Death, and he has worked on TV and feature projects with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Broadway Video and Jersey Films. He is a proud alumnus of the Ars Nova Playgroup and Ensemble Studio Theater’s Obie Award-winning Youngblood Playwriting Group. His plays have been produced at Ars Nova, Naked Angels, the Woodshed Collective and Ensemble Studio Theatre, among others. His comedy shorts have been featured on the Huffington Post, High Times, Funny or Die and Buzzfeed.
LaShea Delaney’s plays have been produced in New York at Dixon Place, Classic Stage Company, the Bowery Poetry Club, New Ohio Theater and Barbez; in Los Angeles at the Women’s Center For Creative Work; and in London at the Institute of Contemporary Art. LaShea has written about food and wine for Los Angeles Magazine, Wine and Spirit and The Hairpin. Her arts and culture writing has appeared in Los Angeles Magazine, LA Weekly and Indiewire. LaShea is a Himan Brown Award Winner, New Georges Fellow, former MacDowell and former YADDO Resident, LMCC Workspace Grant recipient and a Clubbed Thumb Writing Fellow. She is an alumna of both New York University’s Tisch School of the Art and Mac Wellman’s Brooklyn College MFA program. The upcoming production of her new play, Moniece Clark, will be produced by Barker Room Rep in 2021.
Lucas Kavner is a writer, performer and comedian from Plano, Texas. He recently created and starred in Water Bear, the very first animated VR series, and was nominated for a WGA Award for his work as a writer on The Jim Jefferies Show on Comedy Central. He’s the author of the plays Fish Eye (Time Out Critic’s Pick, New York Magazine’s Best Theatre of the Year), Carnival Kids (New York Times Critics Pick), Clickshare (ACT), The Gum Play (Sloan Foundation grant, Ensemble Studio Theatre) and Barnes & Noble: Frisco, Texas (Ars Nova). Other writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, New York Magazine, Slate, McSweeney’s, The Believer and the New Yorker, among others, and he spent three years as a reporter at the Huffington Post. He is currently developing television projects with Warner Brothers and FX.
Claire Kiechel is a theater maker and film and TV writer. Her plays include Paul Swan is Dead & Gone (The Civilians at Torn Page), Sophia (Alley Theatre All-New Festival 2019); the haunted (City Theatre’s Momentum Festival, additional development at Seattle Rep); Pilgrims (The Gift Theatre; Alley All New Reading Series; The Lark’s Playwrights’ Week 2016; The Kilroys’ The List 2016); Lulu Is Hungry with composer Avi Amon at Ars Nova’s ANT Fest 2016; and Some Dark Places of the Earth at the New School for Drama. She has received commissions from Actors Theatre of Louisville, South Coast Rep and the Alley Theatre, and has a BA from Amherst College and an MFA from the New School for Drama. She was a writer for Netflix’s second season of The OA (watch it now!) and was also on the upcoming HBO series Watchmen. She is developing a pilot with Annapurna & EOne, as well as a film for Disney with Justin Springer at Secret Machine.
Roger Q. Mason is a Black, Filipinx, plus-sized, gender non-conforming, queer artist of color. He is the recipient of the 2020 Chuck Rowland Pioneer Award for achievement in playwriting, following in the footsteps of lauded LGBTQIA+ theatre writers like Billy Porter, Robert Patrick and Tom Jacobson. Mason honed his writing skills while earning degrees from Princeton University, Middlebury College and Northwestern University. His work challenges and inspires audiences to re-consider what they’ve been taught and to re-think how they feel about those who are different and “other.” Mason’s plays have been seen on Broadway at Circle in the Square (Circle Reading Series); Off Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, New Group, American Theatre of Actors, Flea Theatre and Access Theater; and regionally at McCarter Theatre, Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatists, Steep Theatre, Serenbe Playhouse, EST/LA, Son of Semele and Skylight Theatre. His play The White Dress, now in development as a feature film, has been called “a genderqueer coming-of-age drama for the they/them generation.” During its successful Off-Broadway debut in the summer of 2019, it was described by critics as “powerful…offering us a dark but hopeful vision.” The script was a finalist for the Lark Playwrights Week and the Screencraft Play Award, judged by David Lindsay- Abaire. Mason’s queer Civil War short play, Softer, spawned a short film which premiered at Outshine Film Festival and the Pan African Film Festival and is now being adapted for television. His historical fantasia Lavender Men, envisioning Abe Lincoln’s romance with his legal assistant Elmer Ellsworth, will world premiere at Skylight Theatre in the 2020-2021 season.
Anna Moench’s plays include Man of God (Geffen Playhouse, InterAct, East West Players), Mothers (Playwrights’ Realm), Birds of North America (Thrown Stone, Theatre With A View, BETC), and In Quietness (Dutch Kills, Indiana U of PA). Other plays of Anna’s have been produced at the Old Vic, 59E59, Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Flea, Cohesion Theatre Company, NYU Tisch, Dance Theater Workshop, Dixon Place, the Kraine, Looking Glass Theatre and FringeNYC. Commissions include the Gerbode Special Award in the Arts for a new play with the Magic Theater, a collaboration with the Japanese American National Museum and East West Players on Residence Elsewhere, a new play exploring the legacy of Japanese American internment, two EST/Sloan Commissions, and others from NYU Tisch, 2G, Keen Teens and Red Fern. Anna has been a writer in residence at Yaddo, BRIC Arts, Baltimore Center Stage, the Tofte Lake Center, and the Vineyard Arts Project. Her plays have been published by Playscripts, Vintage Books and Samuel French. Anna is the current Page One Playwright in Residence at the Playwrights’ Realm, and is an alumna of the Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theatre, and The Jam at New Georges. She was named one of Hollywood’s top 100 new writers on the 2016 Young and Hungry List and received her MFA from UCSD’s Playwriting program in 2018. Her screenwriting and television writing work includes projects with Universal, Apple TV, HBO, and eOne.
Brian Otaño is a New York native and L.A.-based playwright and TV writer. Full-length plays include The Dust, Dolores Slayborne, Tara, Zero Feet Away and The Dooley Street Trilogy. He also co-wrote You Across From Me, the 42nd Annual Humana Festival PTC show. Brian is currently a staff writer on Last Summer, airing on Freeform and Hulu in 2020. Brian is an alumna of Center Theatre Group L.A. Writers Workshop, Geffen Playhouse Writers Room, Ars Nova Playgroup and Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writers Group. He is the recipient of the New Dramatists Van Lier Fellowship and the New York Theater Workshop 2050 Fellowship. His plays have been developed and workshopped by Roundabout Theatre Company (Roundabout Underground), Atlantic Theater Company (Latino Mixfest), INTAR (American Nightcap), The Parsnip Ship, UCSB Launchpad, LAByrinth, IAMA Theatre Company, Celebration Theatre and SPACE on Ryder Farm. His first short film, Call Me Daddy (directed by Amanda DeSouza), is a two-time award winner (Best Narrative Short, The Women’s Film Festival and Best Comedy at The Official Latino Film Festival). He is currently under commission with IAMA Theater Company and Atlantic Theater Company. Representation: William Morris Endeavor and Grandview Management. Education: BFA, Dramatic Writing (SUNY Purchase).
Christopher Sullivan is a playwright, screenwriter and director. His work has been seen Off-Broadway at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Flea Theatre, The Tank, Theatre Row, NYU and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from USC’s John Wells Writing for Screen and Television Division, is a former member of the Obie award-winning playwrights group Youngblood, and is a Hudson Memorial Award recipient. His episodic series Guess I’m A Ghost has been seen at festivals around the country and won Best Web Series at the Los Angeles Film Awards.
Founded in 1997 and dedicated to producing new work, the Echo Theater Company has gained a reputation for bringing the hottest new plays and playwrights to Los Angeles. Echo’s 2019 production of The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe was named “Best of 2019” by .both the Los Angeles Times and radio station KCRW, and was the recipient of two Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards; the world premiere of Handjob by Erik Patterson made the “Highlights of 2019” list at LA Observed. The 2018 season saw West Coast premieres of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Pulitzer Prize finalist play Gloria, named to the Los Angeles Times’ “Best of 2018” list, and Molly Smith Metzler’s Cry It Out, winner of both Los Angeles Drama Critic’s Circle and Ovation “Best Production” and “Playwriting” awards, and listed on KCRW’s “Best of 2018” list. In addition, the Echo was honored with the LADCC award for “Best 2018 Season.” The company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly in its 2014 Best of L.A. issue and was a recipient of a 2016 “Kilroy Cake Drop”— one of only 13 theaters in the country to be surprised by cakes to honor the efforts they are making to produce women and trans writers. In the Los Angeles Times, theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Echo Theater Company, which has cultivated a community of top flight actors, would be my go-to place in Los Angeles for symbiotic ensemble acting… Artistic directors of theaters of all sizes would be wise to follow the [lead] of the Echo’s Chris Fields, who [is] building audience communities eager for the challenge of path-breaking plays.” KCRW’s Anthony Byrnes stated, “Echo Theater Company is on a fierce journey. They’re choosing plays that are consistently challenging and all have a deep conscience… The body of work that Echo is building is substantial. If you wanted to pick one small theater to add to your cultural roster — Echo is a consistent favorite.”
For more information about the Echo Theater Company and the Playwrights Lab, visit www.echotheatercompany.com.