2016-17 MFA Playwrights
Third Year Students
Cristina Luzarraga (right in photo) was born and raised in Short Hills, New Jersey, save for a few teenage years spent in London, England. She graduated in 2011 from Princeton University with B.A. in Comparative Literature. Subsequently, she moved to Chicago where she studied sketch writing and improvisation at iO Theatre and The Second City Conservatory and performed stand-up comedy at Zanies and elsewhere. Her full-length play Due Unto Others was produced by Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts. Her short plays Hippo Woman and Baker’s Three were produced at Greenhouse Theater in Chicago.
Philana Omorotionmwan (center in photo) was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She uses writing to create images that explore the the intersections of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Her short plays have been produced at Ensemble Studio Theater, Manhattan Theatre Source, and Berkeley Rep. Her poems have been published in New Delta Review and African American Review. Philana earned her BA from Stanford University and is excited to be pursing an MFA here at OU. You can find out more about her work at philanaplays.weebly.com.
Natasha Smith‘s (left in photo) play Catapult was a semi-finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and received a staged reading with Arizona Theatre Company in 2014, where she served as the Artistic Intern for two years. She has also worked with Horizon Theatre and the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Natasha’s play In Her Place was produced at Amherst College, where she studied Theater/Dance and English, and won the Denis Johnston Playwriting Award from Smith College. She has taught creative writing in the US and in Kenya, and is a three-time recipient of the Roland Wood Fellowship from Amherst College. www.natashawrites.com
Second Year Students
Inna Tsyrlin (left in photo) is currently pursuing her MFA in Playwriting at Ohio University after taking classes at HB Studio (New York City) and at Primary Stage (ESPA, New York City). Inna’s one act plays performed in New York City, include: I (heart) Subway (2014) and Happy Anniversary (2014) (Emerging Artists Theater: New Works Series); My Wife (HB Playwrights Foundation shorts series); Principal’s Office (semi-finalist of Manhattan Repertory Spring 2014 One Act Competition); Fat (Mount Carmel Theater Winter 2014 New Works program). Her one acts, Coffee and Murakami (2014) and Bentley (2013) have had staged readings as part of the Jack & Julie Project at HB Studio; while she has also had readings (2015) for Lama Theatre Company, and a reading of her full-length Animals (2015) in New York City. Apart from plays, Inna has written and produced shot films, reviewed Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway plays for stagebuddy.com, and contributed to Australian lifestyle publications. Her work tends to focus on exploring darker and unusual aspects of relationships and how these reflect in our current social and political environment, with particular attention to freedom and identity.
Katherine Varga (center in photo) is a freelance writer and playwright originally from New Britain, CT. She recently received her B.A. English from the University of Rochester, where she was awarded a Take Five scholarship to study urbanization and the arts. Her plays have been developed at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York and Curious Theatre in Denver, Colorado, and read at the 2015 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival.
Trip Venturella (right in photo) is a graduate of Colby College with a degree in Religious Studies. He has worked with Colby College’s Theater and Dance Department, the human rights group ANHAD: Kashmir, Delhi University in New Delhi, Floating Space Theatre Company in Sri Lanka, and many, many groups in the Boston area. He has done field work on Chams Dance in Sikkim and studied Chhau Dance in Delhi. He currently serves as the Development and Outreach Director of Apollinaire Theatre Company in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where he has overseen the conception of, fundraising for, and buildout of the Riseman Family Theatre and the Chelsea Blackbox Theatre, as well as the production of three years of Apollinaire in the Park: a free, outdoor, bilingual summer theatre production. His original musical “Killer Maples: The Musical!,” a collaboration with the composer Andres Ramos, was produced by Yelling Man Theatre in June of 2016.
First Year Students
Liv Matthews (left in photo) is a playwright from Central Florida. Her ten-minute play, Home Going, was produced by Playwrights’ Round Table in Orlando and is published in The Best 10 Minutes Plays of 2015 by Smith and Kraus. She has worked at the Alliance Theatre, first as a literary intern and then as the Kenny Leon Fellow. Her short play co-written with Dre Camacho, White Picket Fence, was produced by Working Title Playwrights in Atlanta. Her plays often explore family dynamics, the complexities of young women and teens, and the oddities and magic of the Sunshine State. They also include at least one dance number. When not writing, Liv can be found working through Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings, dancing to Beyoncé, and listening to the podcast The Read.
Jordan Ramirez Puckett (center in photo) is a playwright and lighting designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She often writes about being caught between two identities and our intrinsic need for human connection. She received Abingdon Theatre Company’s Christopher Brian Wolk Award for her play, Restore. Her other plays include A Driving Beat (written at the 2018 National Winter Playwrights Retreat in Creede, Colorado), Las Pajaritas (staged reading at The Custom Made Theatre Co. in San Francisco), Inevitable (production at San Francisco Playhouse), The American Traitor (production at Playwrights Center of San Francisco), and Gringo Baseball (staged reading at Goodman Theatre in Chicago). She has designed lights for the world premieres of Bauer by Lauren Gunderson, 77% by Rinne Groff, and 1 2 3 by Lila Rose Kaplan, among others. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and the former Associate Artistic Director at San Francisco Playhouse.
Jean Egdorf (right in photo) was born and raised in a small town in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Her plays often feature young women from small towns, and her work is heavily influenced by the southwest. Jean is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association and has worked in Colorado for the past decade as a Stage Manager and dramaturg. Her short plays produced in Colorado include Eastwould?, Mission Impassable, The 1st Law of Robotics, and Escalator to the End of the World. Her full-length plays include How to Bake a Genoise Sponge Without Breaking Any Eggs, The Flood, and Poetic License Will Be Taken. Her short dramaturgical essays have been published for the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. Jean worked six seasons with the Creede Repertory Theatre (CRT) where she co-developed the CRT Company Generated Ten-Minute Play Festival, now entering its fifth year, and perfected the art of improv stage management.