If there were ever a field that should build solidarity but doesn’t, theater would be it. Playwrights are encouraged to compete for the privilege of association. Our bios are lists of institutions from which we borrow value; each name grants you permission to call yourself an artist. The structure of the industry invites exploitation and mistreatment. It limits the art we choose to make, as well as our relationships to one another.
Each insular world—no matter how small or seemingly insignificant—is beholden to the larger one, and reinforces the injustices that shape it. Last summer, hundreds of people pointed out the obvious: the theater world is systemically racist. Theaters scrambled to respond, and continue to come up short, as they tend to believe that a diverse staff and a diverse roster of plays are an end in itself. If this were true, We See You White American Theater would have a list of demands that is less than 30 pages long. These demands paint a pretty extraordinary picture of racism, exclusion and exploitation, but alongside it appears a tantalizing negative image. For me, it begs the question: Why are we asking institutions to be less racist, less sexist, less ableist, less greedy, instead of building the kind of inclusive structures we actually want?Read alum Molly Hagan’s full essay on Theater and “mutual aid” here.
Molly Hagan on Theater and Mutual Aid
Tamara Winters – 2021 PlayFest Mentor
Tamara Winters (BFA Performance/Honors Tutorial College 2004) is the Associate Artistic Director of Know Theatre of Cincinnati, a small professional theatre focused on new works, artistic innovation, and radical welcome. A director, dramaturg, arts advocate, and occasional performer with an eclectic aesthetic shaped by the BFA Acting program at Ohio University and the interdisciplinary MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College, Tamara is now in her sixth season in a leadership position at the Know. At Sarah Lawrence, Tamara had the pleasure of studying with Tony-winning David Neumann (choreographer for Hadestown), director Will Frears, playwrights Francine Volpe and Stuart Spencer, and sound designer Jill Du Boff Lehrman, among many other celebrated faculty members. At Know Theatre, Tamara has directed 12 MainStage productions since 2014, including a world premiere by Kara Lee Corthron and regional premieres by Adam Szymkowicz, Lauren Gunderson, Megan Gogerty, Jenny Connell Davis, and more.
Tamara’s work has previously been seen at New York Madness, Fringe NYC, Dixon Place, Cherry Lane Theatre, The Tank, The New Ohio, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Ovation Theatre, Ohio Valley Summer Theatre, and ARTS/West. She is a passionate arts advocate who works to ensure that the Know is a welcoming place for all and a playful place to take artistic risks. She and her husband Daniel welcomed their son Jack to the world on March 18, 2018.
Tamara will be providing feedback to the following plays:
A Woog Among the Waves by Steven Strafford (Thurs. 4/22 @ 12:30pm)
A Perfect Day Away by Klae Bainter (Fri. 4/23 @ 4pm)
Crystal Skillman – 2021 PlayFest Mentor
Crystal Skillman is a four-time NYTimes Critics’ Pick playwright expanding into audio drama and television. You can listen to King Kirby, her episodic audio play written with Fred Van Lente, just released on Broadway Podcast Network about the life of comic book artist Jack Kirby, co-creator of the Marvel Universe or read their comic book Eat Fighter (on WebToon). Crystal is currently writing her scripted audio drama series The Magician’s Magician which will be released with BOOM Integrated/John Marshall Media this fall. She just finished the pilot of her half hour original musical comedy Overnight Success with co-conceiver Lauren Elder and songwriter Regina Stayhorn (Kampfire Films). Theatrically, Crystal is a noted bookwriter of musicals. Her musicals with Bobby Cronin include the award-winning Mary and Max, as well as her play with music Rain and Zoe Save the World, just optioned by DDM Productions/Drew & Dane Productions (Little Shop of Horrors, The Other Josh Cohen), and the animated series Cosmic Critters. Other musicals include Postcard American Town with composer Lynne Shankel (Awarded the 2020-22 SDSU New Musical Initiative), This Show is Money (Civilians R & D Group) with composer Gaby Alter, and A New City (Sam Ratelle). Crystal is the author of plays Geek (Vampire Cowboys) and Open (The Tank Theatre/AFO), She was selected for the 2020-2023 Core Membership at The Playwrights’ Center and her play Pulp Verité was recently featured in their season. Current feature screenplays include Seven Variations on the Same Lover and Drunk Art Love. Crystal has written for Marvel Comics as well as “Adventure Time”
Crystal will be providing feedback to the following play:
Be Head by John Hendel (Fri. 4/23 @ 8pm)
Stacey Rose – 2021 PlayFest Mentor
Stacey Rose is a Charlotte based, award winning, nationally produced playwright. Her work celebrates and explores Blackness, Black identity, body politics and the dilemma of life as the “other.” Stacey has held fellowships/residencies with The Arts & Science Council, The Dramatists Guild, The Playwrights’ Center, Sundance Theatre Lab, The Goodman Theatre, The Civilians, and Tofte Lake Center. She’s a recipient of a 2019 Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Women’s Commissioning Grant in partnership with Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre and an Alfred P. Sloan foundation commission in partnership with Manhattan Theatre Club. She is currently a staff writer for 9-1-1 on Fox. Stacey, along with director Martin Damien Wilkins, co-founded the Queen City New Play Initiative to support local and southern playwrights in the creation of new work for the stage. You can follow QCNPI @qcnewplay on Instagram and Twitter and at facebook.com/QueenCityNewPlays.
Stacey will be providing feedback to the following play:
All to Bear in Heaven by Ivan Mosley (Sat. 4/24 @ 4pm)
Jacquelyn Reingold – 2021 PlayFest Mentor
Jacquelyn Reingold writes for theatre and television. Her plays, which include String Fever, (starring Cynthia Nixon and Evan Handler), I Know, They Float Up, Girl Gone, A Very Very Short Play, 2B (or not 2B), and Acapulco, have been seen in New York at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Naked Angels, Theatre for One, MCC Theatre; at the Actors Theatre in Louisville; Portland Center Stage in Oregon; PlayLabs in Minneapolis; and in London, Dublin, Berlin, and Hong Kong. Honors and awards include: the Kennedy Center‘s Fund for New American Plays, New York Foundation of the Arts playwriting grant, two Sloan Foundation commissions, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn prize, and MacDowell Fellowships.
She has been published in two Women Playwrights: The Best Plays, several Best American Short Plays, and by Samuel French, Vintage Books, DPS, Applause Books, Smith & Kraus. A collection of her one-acts Things Between Us is published by DPS. Four of her short plays have been recorded for radio/podcast by Playing-on-Air. In television, she is a Writer/Executive Producer for the critically acclaimed “The Good Fight” on Paramount+. She has also written for Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie,” CBS’ “Braindead,” NBC’s “Smash,” and all the Mia episodes for Emmy nominated Gabriel Byrne and Hope Davis in HBO’s “In Treatment.” She is a playwright member of Ensemble Studio Theater, an alum of New Dramatists, and a founding member of Honor Roll, an advocacy group for womxn playwrights over 40 whose goal is inclusion in the theater. She has taught dramatic writing at Ohio University, New York University, and Columbia University. Jacquelyn received her Playwriting MFA from Ohio University.
Jacquelyn will be providing feedback to the following play:
A Perfect Day Away by Klae Bainter (Fri. 4/23 @ 4pm)
Martine Kei Green-Rogers – 2021 PlayFest Mentor
Martine Kei Green-Rogers is an Associate Professor at SUNY New Paltz, Past President of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, and the Fellowship Associate at the Playwrights’ Center. Her dramaturgical credits include: The Catastrophist at Marin; He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box and The Ohio State Murders at Round House Theatre; The Greatest with the Louisville Orchestra; Four Women Talking About The Man Under The Sheet, and Silent Dancer at Salt Lake Acting Company; Fences and One Man, Two Guvnors at Pioneer Theatre Company; Sweat at the Goodman; productions of King Hedley II, Radio Golf, Five Guys Named Moe, Blues for An Alabama Sky, Gem of the Ocean, Waiting for Godot, Iphigenia at Aulis, Seven Guitars, The Mountaintop, Home, and Porgy and Bess at Court Theatre; Hairspray, The Book of Will, Shakespeare in Love, UniSon, Hannah and the Dread Gazebo, Comedy of Errors, To Kill A Mockingbird, The African Company Presents Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and Fences at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Martine will be responding to every play in the festival! Thank you, Martine!
Laura Jacqmin – 2021 PlayFest Mentor
Laura Jacqmin is a Los Angeles-based writer for television, video games, and the live theater, originally from Cleveland. She’s currently a writer-consulting producer on the forthcoming Peacock/NBCU/USA show, “Joe Exotic” (based on the Wondery podcast, starring Kate McKinnon). Previously, she was a writer-co-executive producer on the forthcoming Netflix series, “One Piece” (based on the longrunning manga series by Eiichiro Oda). Her first feature film, “We Broke Up,” co-written with Jeff Rosenberg and starring William Jackson Harper and Aya Cash, is playing in select theatres and opens on VOD on April 23rd.
Other television: “Get Shorty” (EPIX); “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix); “Lucky 7” (ABC). Video Games: “Life 2.0” (FoxNext/Fogbank); “The Walking Dead, Season 3” and “Minecraft: Story Mode” (both with Telltale Games), as well as contract work for Ad Hoc and Scopely. She received her BA from Yale University, and earned an MFA in Playwriting from Ohio University. Founding member, The Kilroys.
Plays: Residence (40th Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville); January Joiner (Long Wharf Theatre); Ski Dubai (Steppenwolf Theatre); A Third (Finborough Theatre London); Look, we are breathing (Rivendell Theatre Ensemble; Sundance Theatre Lab); Dental Society Midwinter Meeting (Williamstown Theatre Festival; Chicago Dramatists/At Play, 16th Street Theater); Ghost Bike (Buzz22 Chicago). Awards: Wasserstein Prize, two NEA Art Works Grants, ATHE-Kennedy Center David Mark Cohen Playwriting Award, two MacDowell Fellowships, Illinois Arts Council Individual Artist Grant.
Laura will be providing feedback for the following play:
A Woog Among the Waves by Steven Strafford (Thurs. 4/22 @ 12:30pm)
Heather Helinsky – 2021 PlayFest Mentor
Heather Helinsky is a freelance dramaturg based in Philadelphia and the current Literary Manager for Playwrights Foundation/Bay Area Playwrights Festival, as well as the Contest Dramaturg (aka Lit Manager) for the 10th Annual Jewish Plays Project. Fifteen years of experience as a professional dramaturg, specifically in the area of new play development and focused on advocating for women playwrights and writers of color. She is an independent dramaturg providing research and analysis, consultation, and workshops to playwrights, directors, theater companies, and college-level education programs. Select theatres where her production dramaturgy was seen: Accessible Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Apothetae, Borderlands, Denver Center, Great Plains Theatre Conference, PA Shakespeare Festival, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Pittsburgh Irish & Classical, Pittsburgh Public, Playwrights Realm, Sundance Theatre Lab, Woolly Mammoth, and 6NewPlays in San Francisco, amongst others. Production dramaturgy on notable world premieres: JT Rogers’ Oslo, Tira Palmquist’s Two Degrees, Caridad Svich’s Guapa. She also served as a Barrymore Judge for seasons ‘17/18 and ‘18/19 for Theatre Philadelphia, adjudicating 60-80 professional productions per season in the Philadelphia region. Heather also has a huge heart for mentoring the next generation of dramaturgs and playwrights, and since 2012, has been a guest artist in various capacities for the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival and has been a reader for seven years for their David Mark Cohen & Steinberg Award. She has also mentored emerging playwrights through the Kennedy Center’s Undergraduate Playwrights Workshop (’16-‘20) and the VSA’s Discovery Series for emerging writers with disabilities. She also has been a member of the NNPN community of artists-at-large, and has dramaturged twice for their summer MFA Playwrights Workshop. Teaching: Visiting Professor at University of Arizona (’07), Carnegie Mellon (’12), Brooklyn College (’15), Lesley University, and guest workshop at Yale in spring ’19. Training/Awards: M.F.A. in Dramaturgy from the A.R.T./Moscow Art/Harvard (’07) and the O’Neill National Critics Institute (’16). Current board member for LMDA as co-VP of Freelance and part of the cohort that created LMDA’s Dramaturging the Phoenix initiative, which supports LMDA’s wider membership of dramaturgs through the pandemic.
Heather will provide feedback to the following play:
To be a Starfish by Wendy-Marie Martin (Thurs. 4/22 @ 4:30pm)
Julie Felise Dubiner – 2021 PlayFest Mentor
Julie Felise Dubiner (she/her) has freelanced around the country as a dramaturg, consultant, and producer. She was Associate Director of American Revolutions at OSF and resident dramaturg at Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Prince Music Theater. Among her dramaturgy credits are premieres of Sweat by Lynn Nottage, The Copper Children by Karen Zacarías, Between Two Knees by The 1491s, and Party People by Universes. She is co-creator of Rock & Roll: The Reunion Tour, co-author of Process of Dramaturgy, co-editor of several volumes of Humana Festival plays, and a contributor to Diversity, Inclusion, and Representation in Contemporary Dramaturgy, Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy, Innovation in Five Acts, and other publications and podcasts. Her introductory essay is included in the Bloomsbury edition of I and You by Lauren Gunderson. Julie has served on panels for the Jewish Plays Project, Horton Foote Prize, Playwrights’ Center, and others. She is a mentor for the LMDA Early Career Dramaturg caucus.
Julie will provide feedback for the following plays:
To Be a Starfish by Wendy-Marie Martin (Thurs. 4/22 @ 4:30pm)
what the Gods gave me by Eryn Elyse McVay (Sat. 4/24 @ 12pm)
The Martha Mitchell Effect by Skye Robinson Hillis (Sat. 4/24 @ 8pm)
Aaron Carter – 2022 PlayFest Mentor
Aaron Carter is currently a Co-Producer on the upcoming Disney+ series The Crossover, based on the book by Kwame Alexander. Previously, he was an Executive Story Editor on the upcoming Netflix limited series Devil In Ohio. Aaron also wrote for two seasons on the courtroom drama All Rise, writing or co-writing six episodes. Aaron started his TV work on the writing staff for the limited series The Red Line on CBS. Aaron is currently in development with Amazon, creating a series inspired by the high school rowing documentary A Most Beautiful Thing.
Aaron’s writing focuses on the intersections between race and faith, and is inspired by his lifelong interest in poetry, circus, magic and sci-fi. His plays have been produced and developed at Roundabout, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, TimeLine, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, among others. His play Gospel of Franklin was in the 2019 Roundabout Underground reading series. His adaptation of the Walter Dean Myers young adult novel Monster was produced at Steppenwolf. His latest play, Possession, uses ghost story structure to explore racial identity and legacy. Aaron previously worked as an Artistic Producer at Steppenwolf Theater Company where he supported projects such as Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu, and The Minutes by Tracy Letts, both of which went on to Broadway runs.