The 2020 OHIO MFA Playwriting
Artistic Roundtable Series
FOR THE PAST TWENTY-FI VE YEARS, the School of Theater at Ohio University has hosted the annual Seabury Quinn Jr. Playwrights Festival celebrating the plays written by the writers in the MFA playwriting program and featuring one-on-one mentorship for our students by nationally recognized playwrights and other leaders in new play development. The recent pandemic has forced us, as well as other theaters and universities around the country, to cancel these plans and explore new ways to give our writers a culminating experience with outside mentors in recognition of their work over the past year.
To that end, we have arranged Artistic Roundtable Discussions with nationally recognized playwrights and other national leaders in new play development who will serve as mentors to our eight MFA playwrights. During each session, two nationally recognized mentors and one Ohio University playwright will discuss the work the MFA playwright developed over the past year. These symposiums, scheduled for April 23, 24, and 25 will be open to other playwriting, acting, directing, and design students, faculty members from the School of Theater, COFA, as well as the general public via Zoom. While Group Chat will be open during these sessions, all verbal interaction will be limited to the two mentors and the respective MFA playwright.
Mentors include Aaron Carter, playwright, TV writer and former artistic producer for Steppenwolf Theater Company; Beth Blickers, agent at APA; Kara Lee Corthron, playwright, author, and TV writer based in Los Angeles; Steven Dietz, one of the 20 most produced playwrights in America; Robert Barry Fleming, Executive Artistic Director of the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville; Martine Kei Green-Rogers, President of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas; Polly Hubbard, artistic producer for Steppenwolf Theater Company; Joy Meads, Literary Associate and Artistic Engagement Strategist at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles; and Tanya Palmer, Associate Professor of Dramaturgy at Indiana university and former Producer and Director of New Play Development at the Goodman Theatre.
Schedule of Events
The following is the schedule for the MFA Playwriting Artistic Roundtable Discussions. All times posted are Eastern Standard Time. Please review the PDFs of the plays embedded on this page, (or if the links aren’t working properly, you can also find the plays embedded as PDFs at the university website). Reading the plays in advance of the discussions will help you track the perceptions offered, and questions asked, by the mentors.
Thursday, April 23.
All Thursday meetings on Zoom are accessible by clicking here. Or open Zoom and input the Meeting ID: 877 265 080 and Password: 6efLEv
10:00 a.m., Mentors Tanya Palmer and Robert Barry Fleming will discuss first-year playwright Ivan Mosley’s play, Kenyatta’s Party. “As Hampstead Homes is closing, Amiri is the last remaining resident. When he discovers his son Kenyatta will be released from prison the next day, Amiri decides to throw one final celebration. Can he pull everything for the party together in time for Kenyatta’s arrival?”
12:00 p.m., Mentors Beth Blickers and Kara Corthron will discuss third-year playwright Jordan Ramirez Puckett’s thesis play, En Las Sombras. (This thesis, recipient of the 2019 Trisolini Fellowship, partially fulfills requirements for the Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting.) “Listen closely because I am going to tell you an ancient tale. At a time when people were nothing more than pawns for gods and shadows, the Sun God disappeared leaving the world in darkness and in danger. When their own mother’s life is threatened, young Xenia and Luz must take the trial of the gods, risking their lives for the chance to become deities themselves. And why do you need to hear this story? Because time is cyclical, and what happened in the past did happen again and is happening now. “
2:00 p.m., Mentors Beth Blickers and Polly Hubbard will discuss first-year playwright Amanda Rockhold’s play, Smoke or Everything We Don’t Say. “What causes someone to leave their life? Recent MFA Poetry graduate, Mariah, attempts to replace her loneliness with the smoky world of a local musician, Miller, and a young poet, JJ. Will Mariah find a better life in a lowly bar, or is her horizon more vast?”
4:30 p.m., Mentors Polly Hubbard and Joy Meads will discuss second-year playwright Skye Robinson Hillis’ play, Go Like Saints. Skye Robinson Hillis is the recipient of the 2020 Ohio University Trisolini Fellowship.) “In 1951 Hollywood, at the height of the second Red Scare, a group of friends grapple with the fear and anxiety that sets in when your entire livelihood could be snatched away at any moment. When noted screenwriter Eliza Everett is called before the House on Un-American Committee to testify, her response to questioning sends shockwaves through the industry, including the people closest to her. As she negotiates how to move forward, she must decide what’s most important – her career or her family.” (Skye was interviewed for Ohio Fine Arts Talking Studio just last week — give it a listen!)
Friday, April 24.
All Friday meetings on Zoom are accessible by clicking here. Or open Zoom and input the Meeting ID: 935 7940 8167 and Password: 6efLEv
10:00 a.m., Mentors Steven Dietz and Aaron Carter will discuss first-year playwright Klae Bainter’s play, Til Death Blooms True. “A plague is coming. There’s a pull coming off the fields telling me everything there is to know. Something is coming. Leaving a wake of destruction in its path. Have to be prepared for it. The last time it took everything. Stripped me of my pride. Stripped the land of every living thing. But I’m ready for it this time. I’m prepared. I’ll do whatever it takes to protect mine.”
12:00 p.m., Mentors Robert Barry Fleming and Aaron Carter will discuss second-year playwright John Hendel’s play, Magic Benji. “Have you ever ignored a call from your mother? Have you ever felt bad about it? Have you ever felt so bad that you interrupt your own birthday to fall into a spiral of your conscience and confront a trauma that lay dormant for twenty-five years? Magic Benji has.”
2:00 p.m., Mentors Martine Kei Green-Rogers and Kara Corthron will discuss third-year playwright Jean Egdorf’s thesis play, Fusion and Fallout of the Nuclear Family. (This thesis partially fulfills requirements for the Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting.) “At the end of World War II, brilliant scientists, like Marcel Lange, ushered the world into the nuclear age. Seven decades later, Ada Lange has followed in her grandfather’s footsteps, working with the government on nuclear energy. But when particles of Marcel’s past collide with Ada’s vision for the future, can she unlock the secret to fusion and mend her nuclear family?”
Saturday, April 25.
The Saturday meeting on Zoom is accessible by clicking here. Or open Zoom and input the Meeting ID: 922 1249 6442 and password: 6efLEv
1:00 p.m., Mentors Aaron Carter and Kara Corthron will discuss third-year playwright Liv Matthews’ thesis play, Absentia. (This thesis partially fulfills requirements for the Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting.) “After living in the secluded Florida woods with only her father, 20-year-old Esther Harris dreams of being reunited with her long-lost mother. When her father kills her beloved pet rabbit Robyn, Esther breaks out of their cabin in search of her old life. While they soon find each other, can the abandoned and abused Esther adjust to her new life with her mother?”
Aaron Carter’s writing focuses on the intersections between race and faith, and is inspired by his lifelong interest in 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 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.
Aaron Carter will discuss first-year playwright Klae Bainter’s play, Til Death Blooms True, on April 24 at 10:00 a.m., second-year playwright John Hendel’s play, Magic Benji, on April 24 at noon, and third-year playwright Liv Matthews’ thesis play, Absentia on April 25 at 1:00 p.m.
Beth Blickers is currently an agent at APA, where she represents artists who work in theatre, opera, television and film. Before joining APA, she was an agent at Abrams Artists Agency, Helen Merrill Ltd. and the William Morris Agency, where she began work after graduating from New York University. Beth has served on the jury panel for the Weissberger Award, the Ed Kleban Award, the Lark’s PONY Fellowship and Playwrights Week, participated in the Non- Traditional Casting Project, Inc.’s roundtable on inclusion and diversity in the theatre and has presented workshops and sessions on agenting, playwriting, directors and choreographers and related topics for organizations such as the Society of Directors and Choreographers Foundation, the Dramatists Guild, League of Professional Theatre Women, the Lark, New York University, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Texas Educational Theatre Association and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc. where she served on the board for fifteen years; the President of Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas; and is the Board Chair Emeritus of Theatre Breaking Through Barriers, a New York company that works with artists with disabilities.
Beth will discuss third-year playwright Jordan Ramirez Puckett’s thesis play, En Las Sombras on April 23 at noon, and first-year playwright Amanda Rockhold’s play, Smoke or Everything We Don’t Say on April 23 at 2:00 p.m.
Kara Lee Corthron is a playwright, author, and TV writer based in Los Angeles. Her plays include Welcome to Fear City (CATF and Kansas City Rep), Holly Down in Heaven (Forum Theatre, D.C.); Listen for the Light (Know Theatre of Cincinnati); and What Are You Worth? She’s the author of the young adult novels The Truth of Right Now (Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse) and Daughters of Jubilation coming October 13th, 2020. Kara writes for the Netflix drama/thriller YOU and the upcoming thriller THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT (HBO Max). Her awards include the 2019 Otis Guernsey New Voices in Playwriting Award, the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Vineyard Theatre’s Paula Vogel Award, Princess Grace Award, Helen Merrill Award, and residencies at MacDowell (four-time fellow), Camargo (France), Bogliasco Foundation (Italy), and Hawthornden (Scotland). She’s a proud member of New Dramatists. Development: Atlantic Theater Company, Berkeley Rep, Masilia Afropéa Festival (France), New Dramatists, South Coast Rep and many others. Juilliard alumna.
Kara Corthron will discuss third-year playwright Jordan Ramirez Puckett’s thesis play, En Las Sombras on April 23 at noon, third-year playwright Jean Egdorf’s thesis play, Fusion and Fallout of the Nuclear Family on April 24 at 2:00 p.m., and third-year playwright Liv Matthews’ thesis play, Absentia April 25 at 1:00 p.m.
Steven Dietz’s thirty-plus plays and adaptations have been produced by America’s most prominent regional theatres, as well as Off-Broadway and in over twenty countries internationally. Awards include the Steinberg New Play Award Citation (Bloomsday); the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award (Fiction, Still Life with Iris); the PEN USA West Award in Drama (Lonely Planet); and the Edgar Award® for Best Mystery Play (Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure). Recent premieres include How a Boy Falls (Northlight Theatre, Chicago); Dracula: Mina’s Quest (ACT Theatre, Seattle); and This Random World (Humana Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville). In 2019, Dietz was once again named one of the 20 most produced playwrights in America. He and his wife, playwright Allison Gregory, divide their time between Austin and Seattle.
Steven Dietz will discuss first-year playwright Klae Bainter’s play, Til Death Blooms True on April 24 at 10:00 a.m.
Robert Barry Fleming. Prior to joining Actors Theatre of Louisville as the Executive Artistic Director, Fleming served as Associate Artistic Director at Cleveland Play House from 2016– 2019. Prior to Cleveland Play House, he served as the Director of Artistic Programming at Arena Stage; world premieres he commissioned, developed and championed during this tenure include the 2017 Best Musical Tony Award winner Dear Evan Hansen, Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Sovereignty, John Strand’s The Originalist, Katori Hall’s Blood Quilt, Karen Zacarías’s Destiny of Desire and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner, Sweat, by Lynn Nottage. Fleming was an Associate Producer for the Off-Broadway premiere of The Two-Character Play by Tennessee Williams, starring Amanda Plummer and Brad Dourif. He was also an Associate Professor (tenured) and Chair of the University of San Diego Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Department. His most recent directing and choreography credits include Next to Normal (Tantrum Theater), The Royale (Cleveland Play House), Destiny of Desire (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Caroline, or Change (Tantrum Theater) and Between Riverside and Crazy (Cleveland Play House). As part of the 2018 Cleveland Play House New Ground Theatre Festival, Fleming directed a reading of the new musical Minton’s Place by acclaimed contemporary music composer Nolan Williams, Jr., with libretto by Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Nikkole Salter. His professional acting credits include stints on Broadway (Ragtime directed by Frank Galati, Stand- Up Tragedy directed by the late Ron Link), Off-Broadway (the leading role in Insurrection: Holding History by Robert O’Hara at The Public Theater), joining the Actors’ Equity Association with the national tour of Cats (Original Bus and Truck), playing major regional theatres (The Old Globe, the Guthrie Theater, A Contemporary Theater, The Mark Taper Forum with the world premiere of George C. Wolfe’s Jelly’s Last Jam as Young Jelly) and appearing on television (Emmy-winning Disney Channel series Adventures in Wonderland, Family Matters, The George Carlin Show) and in films (Academy Award-winning L.A. Confidential and Twilight Of The Golds).
Robert Barry Fleming will discuss first-year playwright Ivan Mosley’s play, Kenyatta’s Party on April 23 at 10:00 a.m., and second-year playwright John Hendel’s play, Magic Benji on April 24 at noon.
Martine Kei Green-Rogers is an Assistant Professor at SUNY: New Paltz, a freelance dramaturg, and President of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. Her dramaturgical credits include: 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; Clearing Bombs and Nothing Personal at Plan-B Theatre; the Classical Theatre Company’s productions of Uncle Vanya, Antigone, Candida, Ghosts, Tartuffe, and Shylock, The Jew of Venice; 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 the Court Theatre; The Clean House at CATCO; 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; 10 Perfect and The Curious Walk of the Salamander as part of the 2006 and 2007 Madison Repertory Theatre’s New Play Festival; and A Thousand Words as part of the 2008 WI Wrights New Play Festival.
Martine Kei Green-Rogers will discuss third-year playwright Jean Egdorf’s thesis play, Fusion and Fallout of the Nuclear Family on April 24 at 2:00 p.m.
Polly Hubbard serves as the Director of New Play Development at Steppenwolf, and she was previously a Literary Agent with Abrams Artists Agency in NYC. Recent World Premiere dramaturgical work: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Isaac Gómez adapted from the novel by Erika L. Sánchez, La Ruta by Isaac Gómez, The Doppelgänger (an international farce) by Matthew-Lee Erlbach, Visiting Edna by David Rabe (Steppenwolf); Rolling by Calamity West, directed by Nate Silver (Jackalope). Selected developmental work: Bald Sisters by Vichet Chum (Steppenwolf’s SCOUT); My Heart is a Library, Yours is a Museum by Kirk Lynn (New Harmony Project); The Imaginary Music Critic Who Doesn’t Exist by David Mitchell Robinson (Steppenwolf’s First Look). Past work with SPACE on Ryder Farm, The Kilroys, Victory Gardens, American Theater Company, Cherry Lane Theatre, 13P, Lark Play Development Center, Princess Grace Awards, and Amnesty International. Education: Oberlin College, University of Evansville.
Polly Hubbard will discuss first-year playwright Amanda Rockhold’s play, Smoke or Everything We Don’t Say on April 23 at 2:00 p.m., and second-year playwright Skye Robinson Hillis’ play, Go Like Saints on April 23 at 4:30 p.m.
Joy Meads is the Literary Associate and Artistic Engagement Strategist at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, where her dramaturgy credits include Forever by Dael Orlandersmith, Marjorie Prime by Jordan Harrison, The Royale by Marco Ramirez, and A Parallelogram by Bruce Norris. Previous to CTG, Joy was Literary Manager at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Associate Artistic Director at California Shakespeare Theater, where she ran the theater’s New Works/New Communities program. Joy has also worked with Portland Center Stage, the O’Neill, South Coast Rep, Chicago Dramatists, The Playwrights’ Center, Native Voices at the Autry, NYTW, and Campo Santo + Intersection for the Arts.
Joy Meads will discuss second-year playwright Skye Robinson Hillis’ play, Go Like Saints on April 23 at 4:30 p.m.
Tanya Palmer is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance at Indiana University. Prior to joining the faculty at IU, she was the Director of New Play Development at the Goodman Theatre where she curated and produced New Stages, the theatre’s annual new play festival, and served as the production dramaturg on a number of world premieres including Dana H. by Lucas Hnath; an original adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (The Goodman has made streaming of this work free during the pandemic), written and directed by Seth Bockley and Robert Falls; and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined by Lynn Nottage. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, she holds an MFA in Playwriting from York University in Toronto.
Tanya Palmer will discuss first-year playwright Ivan Mosley’s play, Kenyatta’s Party on April 23 at 10:00 a.m.