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Announcing the 2016-17 Rita Goldberg Playwrights' Workshop Fellows

Lark News
2016-17 Playwrights Workshop Fellows

The Lark named five New York City-based playwrights as Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Fellows for the 2016-17 season. The group spans a wide range of backgrounds and professional experiences and will meet regularly throughout the year to develop new plays.

The Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop, now in its 18th year, is one of The Lark’s longest-running programs, bringing emerging and established playwrights together to explore new material without commercial pressures. Fellows meet twice a month to share new pages from plays-in-progress with a community of actors, directors, designers, writers and special guests.

The five fellows are Keith Josef Adkins, Founding Artistic Director of The New Black Fest and author of The People Before the Park, produced by Premiere Stages (2015); Sam Chanse, author of Fruiting Bodies, featured on The Kilroys’ List (2015); Rehana Lew Mirza, recipient of a 2016 Lilly Award (the Stacey Mindich "Go Write A Play" Commission) and author of Soldier X, produced by Ma-Yi Theater Company (2015); Jen Silverman, author of The Moors, produced by Yale Repertory Theatre (2016), and the 2016-17 PoNY Fellow at The Lark (in partnership with Playwrights of New York); Anna Ziegler, recipient of London’s 2016 WhatsOnStage Best New Play award for her play Photograph 51 (starring Nicole Kidman), and author of Boy (2016 John Gassner Award nominee).

“This program is designed not only to foster new work, but also to engage in urgent conversations with writers of varying perspectives,” said Lloyd Suh, The Lark’s Director of Artistic Programs. “We’re thrilled to have such a dynamic and exciting company of fellows, each with such big ideas and visions. These are playwrights who are grappling with the most important issues of our time, with empathy and humor and rigor. We’re so thrilled to have them do that work here and with each other over the year.”

The program is led by esteemed dramatist and program creator Arthur Kopit and a group of leading American playwrights that include David Henry Hwang, Tina Howe, Terrence McNally, Theresa Rebeck, José Rivera, Lynn Nottage and Doug Wright, among others. Fellows are selected annually by a committee that solicits nominations from leading dramatists and artistic directors.  Program alumni include José Rivera (Marisol, School of the Americas), Thomas Bradshaw (Burning, Mary), Samuel D. Hunter (The Whale, The Healing), Katori Hall (The Mountaintop, Hurt Village), Dominique Morisseau (Skeleton Crew), Lisa Kron (Fun Home, The Verizon Play), Rajiv Joseph (Guards at the Taj), and Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage(Ruined), whose acclaimed play, Sweat, playing at The Public Theater this fall, was developed during her time as a Fellow during the 2013-14 season.

“Playwrights' Workshop was something I very much looked forward to every month,” said Martyna Majok (Ironbound), a participant in the 2015-16 Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop. “It is a place that supports risk and encourages bravery, where writing could be grand and wild and unsure. It is a genuine community of fellow strivers and seekers, who lovingly and consistently held you accountable to your own goals and dreams.”

This program has been made possible with leadership support from longtime Lark trustee Rita Goldberg.  Additional support is provided by the Axe-Houghton Foundation and the John Golden Fund.


Keith Josef Adkins is a playwright, screenwriter and artistic director. His plays include The People Before The Park, about the 19th century black community Seneca Village that was razed to create Central Park. It premiered at Premiere Stages in Fall 2015. His play Pitbulls received its world premiere Off-Broadway at Rattlestick Theater, NYC, in November 2014. His play Safe House received its world premiere October 2014 at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park with a subsequent production at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (Winter 2015) and will receive its west coast premiere in November at Aurora Theatre in Berkeley. His play The Last Saint on Sugar Hill received its New York City premiere in 2013 at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theater in NYC and its world premiere with MPAACT Theatre in Chicago. Other plays include The Fight of a Migrant, The Dangerous, Sugar and Needles, and The Final Daze, among others.  His worked has been developed at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Center Theatre Group, among others. Keith is a 2015 Helen Merrill Playwright Award recipient, a 2016 NYFA Playwriting Finalist , and a 2014 Teer Spirit Award recipient. His short play Potato Salad (adapted from Charles Fuller’s Zooman and the Sign) appears in the Obie-Winning 48 Hours in Harlem’s first anthology. In TV and film, Keith is currently developing a feature film for James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Productions. He was recently in development with Kingsize Productions (The Good Wife, BrainDead) for a new drama series and his horror screenplay The Turnpike was recently slated at this year’s 20th anniversary of the Urbanworld Film Festival. Keith is also the co-founder and artistic director of The New Black Fest, an organization dedicated to new and provocative playwriting and discussion from the African Diaspora.  The New Black Fest commissioned and curated “Facing Our Truth, HANDS UP and UN-TAMED” (co-curated with playwright Dominique Morisseau), and has partnered with Segal Theatre at CUNY Graduate Center, National Black Theatre, The Lark, 651 ARTS in Brooklyn, and BRIC in Brooklyn. The New Black Fest also co-founded the American Slavery Project.

Sam Chanse’s plays and theater work include The Other Instinct, Fruiting Bodies, What you are now, Lydia’s Funeral Video, gilgamesh & the mosquito (with composer/collaborator Bob Kelly), about that whole dying thing, and Asian American Jesus (with director/collaborator Yasmine Gomez). She is a proud member of New Dramatists, Ars Nova’s Play Group, and the Ma-Yi Writers Lab.

A former Sundance/Ucross Playwright Fellow, MacDowell Fellow, and Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow, she has received residencies from Djerassi, Tofte Lake Center, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and The Lark. Her work has been recognized by The Kilroys (Fruiting Bodies: 2015 List and 2014 Honorable Mention; The Other Instinct: 2016 Honorable Mention). Commissions include Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan, Ma-Yi/the Flea, Second Generation, Leviathan Lab and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her first solo play, Lydia’s Funeral Video, is published by Kaya Press.

She is an alumna of The Lark’s New York Stage & Film Vassar Retreat, Monthly Meeting of the Minds, and Playground, and of the Civilians R&D Group; her work has also been developed with The Yale Institute of Musical Theatre, The Claque, Labyrinth Theater, Ars Nova’s ANT Fest, Bindlestiff Studio, Asian American Theater Company, and the New York International Fringe Festival. She is former artistic director of San Francisco arts nonprofit Kearny Street Workshop, and is currently a writing consultant with Columbia University’s Writing Center, where she has also taught undergraduate writing. MFA playwriting: Columbia University; MFA musical theater writing: NYU.

Rehana Lew Mirza’s full-length plays include: Soldier X (Upcoming at Brooklyn College; Ma-Yi Theater; 2015 Kilroy Selection; NYSCA Commission via The Lark; Lark Studio Retreat); Lonely Leela (LaGuardia Performing Arts Center; workshops with Magic Theatre and Desipina/Ma-Yi); Barriers (Desipina; Asian American Theater Company, SF); Neighborhood Watch (NNPN/InterAct Commission, workshops at Brooklyn College and InterAct); and Hatefuck (Primary Stages Fresh Ink reading.) Rehana is the recipient of a 2016 Lilly Award (the Stacey Mindich "Go Write A Play" Commission) and is currently in a shared National Playwrights Mellon residency with her husband Mike Lew at Ma-Yi Theater. Past honors include: Rhinebeck Musical Theater Residency for Bhangin' It (with composer Sam Wilmott and co-writer Mike Lew), Tofte Lake Emerging Writers Residency, IAAC playwright residency with The Lark, a TCG Future Leader fellowship with New Georges, E.S.T. Sloan commission, Leopold Schepp fellowship, and John Golden Award. She is a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab (having served as a co-director from 2011-2014) and was a member of the Dorothy Strelsin Primary Stages Writers Group from 2014-2016. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU, Tisch School of the Arts.

Jen Silverman’s work has been produced in New York by Clubbed Thumb (Phoebe in Winter) and the Playwrights Realm (Crane Story), and regionally at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville (The Roommate, Humana 2015; Wondrous Strange, Humana 2016), Yale Rep (The Moors), InterAct Theatre in Philadelphia (The Dangerous House of Pretty Mbane, Barrymore Award, Steinberg Award citation). She has productions upcoming at Woolly Mammoth (World Premiere of Collective Rage: A Play in Five Boops), The Playwrights Realm @ The Duke (New York premiere of The Moors), South Coast Repertory Theatre, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (World Premiere of All the Roads Home), among others.

She is a member of New Dramatists, a Core Writer at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, and has developed work with the O’Neill, Williamstown, New York Theatre Workshop, Playpenn, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Portland Center Stage, the Cherry Lane Mentor Project, SCR’s Pacific Playwrights Festival, The Ground Floor Residency at Berkeley Rep, and the Royal Court in London among other places. She’s a two-time MacDowell fellow, recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts grant, the Helen Merrill Fund Award for emerging playwrights, and the Yale Drama Series Award for Still. She is the 2016-2017 Playwrights of New York (PoNY) Fellow at The Lark. She currently has a two-book deal with Random House for a collection of stories and a novel. Education: Brown, Iowa Playwrights Workshop, Juilliard. More info:

Anna Ziegler’s plays include Photograph 51 (directed on the West End in 2015 by Michael Grandage and starring Nicole Kidman; winner of the WhatsOnStage Award for Best New Play; previously produced at Ensemble Studio Theatre; Seattle Repertory Theatre, and Theater J, among others), Actually (upcoming in 2017 at The Geffen Playhouse and The Williamstown Theatre Festival), The Last Match (The Old Globe Theatre; City Theatre); Boy (Keen Company/Ensemble Studio Theatre; Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award nominee), A Delicate Ship (The Playwrights Realm; Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Another Way Home (Theater J; The Magic Theatre), Dov and Ali (Theatre503; The Playwrights Realm), The Minotaur (Rorschach Theatre; Synchronicity Theatre) and BFF (WET Productions at the DR2 Theatre). She has been commissioned by The Manhattan Theatre Club, Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Old Globe Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Virginia Stage Company and New Georges. Her plays have been developed at The Sundance Theatre Lab, The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, Cape Cod Theatre Project, New York Stage and Film, The Araca Group, Old Vic New Voices, and Soho Rep’s Writer/Director Lab, among others, and are published by Dramatists Play Service. A collection entitled Anna Ziegler: Plays One is published by Oberon Books. Anna is a graduate of Yale College and holds an MFA in dramatic writing from the Tisch School of the Arts. 


Rita Goldberg’s love of theater and dramatic writing began when she was a Hunter College student enthralled with the work of Eugene O’Neill.  After getting married and raising four children - Andrew, Suzan, Josh and Mitchell - Rita embarked on a career as an independent education counselor and founding member of Independent Educational Consultants Association and its regional division. Because of her passion for theater and dramatic writing, Rita and her husband Burton established the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Rita and Burton Goldberg MFA in Playwriting at Hunter College. She is on the Board of Trustees of The Lark and has followed Lark’s growth from its infancy and supported its progress through her patronage.