Playwright to Playwright

About

PLAYWRIGHT TO PLAYWRIGHT is an ongoing “Queens Theatre At Home” Series. In each Episode of P2P, premiering on the third Tuesday of every month, QT’s Director of New Play Development Rob Urbinati interviews playwrights who have had their work presented by Queens Theatre. Emerging and established writers share insights on their work from diverse perspectives. Informative, personal and entertaining, P2P guests include Don Nguyen, Cori Thomas, Nandita Shenoy, Nina Ki, Qui Nguyen, Caridad Svich, Rajiv Joseph, Jelisa Jay Robinson, Douglas Lyons, and Augusto Amador.

Episodes

Episode 1:

Rob Urbinati x Don Nguyen

In this episode, Queens Theatre’s Director of New Play Development talks with Don Nguyen about his career as a theatre artist in Nebraska before his move to NYC, and his work in various disciplines at QT, including assistant director, director, actor and playwright. Don discusses the Readings of his plays “Red Flamboyant” and “The Commencement of William Tan,” and the full production of his short play,“Race Day” all presented at QT. Don revisits his experience as a member of The Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Playwrights Group, and his involvement with “Mission to Ditmars,” a Queens-based Writers Group which he co-founded. He discusses some of his recent work, including “Sound,” about Alexander Graham Bell and his work with the deaf, and “Supreme Leader,” a comedy about Kim Jung Un.

Episode 2:

Rob Urbinati x Cori Thomas

In this episode, Queens Theatre’s Director of New Play Development talks with writer and activist Cori Thomas who discusses her parents, her work with “Pa’s Hat Foundation,” and her commitment to social change. Cori explores her work including “When January Feels Like Summer,” one of the first plays featuring a transgender character, and “My Secret Language of Wishes,” featuring a disabled character, which received two separate Readings at Queens Theatre. Cori has fond memories of QT audiences. She considers her interest in long-term incarceration, resulting in the play, “Lockdown” which premiered at Rattlestick Theatre in New York City, and included a “community conversation” after every performance. Cori talks about the opportunities provided as the Women’s Project Theater’s first Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence.

Episode 3:

Rob Urbinati x Nandita Shenoy

In this episode of Playwright To Playwright, Queens Theatre’s Director of New Play Development Rob Urbinati interviews Nandita Shenoy, a playwright and actor who lives in New York City. Two of Nandita’s plays - Washer/Dryer and Reunion, were presented as part of Queens Theatre’s New American Voices Reading Series. Her work is hip and contemporary, and in the best sense of the word, “commercial.” Nandita shares her thoughts on what makes the audiences at Queens Theatre distinct, how her race and ethnicity inform her writing, why she enjoys Writers Groups, her new play, Rage, that was postponed when COVID-19 hit, and her thoughts on Virtual Play Readings, among other things.

Episode 4:

Rob Urbinati x Nina Ki

In this episode of Playwright To Playwright, Queens Theatre’s Director of New Play Development Rob Urbinati interviews Nina Ki, a Brooklyn-based Korean-American playwright. Queens Theatre's New American Voices Reading Series presented Ki's RAVAGE, and her play, BROKEN ENGLISH was one of the highlights of QT's Theatre For All Short Play Festival. Her work is often strange and mysterious, in stark contrast to her buoyant, upbeat attitude. Ki discusses the autobiographical impulse in her plays, how a love of fantasy informs her work, her optimistic views on virtual theatre, and her new play - about sea lions!

Episode 5:

Rob Urbinati x Qui Nguyen

In this episode, Queens Theatre's Director of New Play Development talks with Qui Nguyen, whose first autobiographical trilogy premiered as part of QT's New American Voices Reading Series. Qui considers the evolution of his style, finding his voice, and parses the distinct gratifications of writing for theatre, film and television. He discusses his new trilogy, providing opportunities for Asian actors, and creating art during the pandemic. This insightful, freewheeling interview spans Qui's entire career, from his early work with the comic book-inspired company, "Vampire Cowboys," to his most recent project - writing the new Disney film, "Raya and the Last Dragon."

Episode 6:

Rob Urbinati x Caridad Svich

In this episode, Queens Theatre's Director of New Play Development talks with Caridad Svich, winner of countless awards including the OBIE for Lifetime Achievement. Queens Theatre presented a Spanish-language Reading of her play, En Tus Brazos, and commissioned her to write a short play for our World’s Fair Play Festival. Caridid discusses how her background contributes to a “nomadic” impulse in her life and work, as well as various aspects of her astonishing career, which includes over 100 plays. She offers insights on translations and adaptations, directors, and creating art in the pandemic. She also describes her activist-driven work with NoPassport, an artist-driven, grassroots theatre alliance, as well as her upcoming film projects.

caridadsvich.com

Episode 7:

Rob Urbinati x Rajiv Joseph

In this episode, Queens Theatre's Director of New Play Development talks with Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph, whose first public reading of his very first play, “Huck and Holden,” took place at Queens Theatre in 2005. QT also presented a reading of his play, “The North Pool,” and a workshop production of “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” which opened on Broadway in 2011 starring Robin Williams. Rajiv discusses his particular affection for Queens Theatre’s New Play Development Program, the evolution of “Bengal Tiger” during its long developmental process, his popular dark comedy, “Gruesome Playground Injuries,” and the socio-political context of his two most recent works to premiere in New York - “Guards at the Taj” and “Describe the Night,” which won the Obie Award for Best New American Theatre Work in 2018. Rajiv offers fascinating insights into why he feels his best writing fuses the political with the primal.

Episode 8:

Rob Urbinati x Jelisa Jay Robinson

In this episode, Queens Theatre's Director of New Play Development Rob Urbinati talks with Jelisa Jay Robinson, whose soul-stirring new play, DELIVERY, was part of QT's Summer 2019 Virtual Reading Series. Jelisa shares her thoughts on how developmental organizations and writers groups are essential to her writing, and to who she is as a person. She discusses the ways in which lessons she learns from her students inform her work and her life. Jelisa considers the recent racial reckoning as the latest chapter in the long history of racism in America and explains her position on the "We See You White American Theatre" demands. Her deep faith and her passionate joy in life are evident in every word she speaks.

jelisajayrobinson.com

Episode 9:

Rob Urbinati x Douglas Lyons

In this episode of Playwright to Playwright, Queens Theatre's Director of New Play Development Rob Urbinati talks with Douglas Lyons, whose play Chicken and Biscuits was playing to packed houses and rapturous audiences in QT's Studio Theatre when the pandemic struck. Douglas shares his thoughts on how being an actor informs his writing, collaborating on musicals with his writing partner, his upcoming project with Queens Theatre, the inspiration for his plays, writing for audiences and meeting Phylicia Rashad!

douglaslyons.net

Episode 10:

Rob Urbinati x Augusto Amador

In this episode of Playwright to Playwright, Rob Urbinati, Queens Theatre's Director of New Play Development, talks with Augusto Amador, whose play ATACAMA premiered last week as the first offering in QT's New American Voices Spring 2021 Virtual Reading Series. Augusto discusses his new television pilot which was recently optioned, his experience with various developmental labs, the joys of creative isolation, his "dictator trilogy," and his fond memories of Queens Theatre's Reading Series audiences!

Episode 11:

Rob Urbinati x Joni Fritz

In this episode of Playwright to Playwright, Rob Urbinati, Queens Theatre's Director of New Play Development, talks with Joni Fritz, the only playwright in Queens Theatre's history to have two of her plays presented on the Claire Shulman Theatre stage: Girls Room in November 2007, and In The Car With Blossom and Len in October 2017. Joni and Rob talk about the often autobiographical nature of Joni's works, growing up Jewish in Memphis, Tennessee, and the experience of creating a play with two theatre legends at Queens Theatre (Donna McKechnie and Carol Lawrence in Girls Room).

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