New Works Festival Online

Artist Bios


Kickoff Event


Happy Pleasant Valley: An Asian American Senior Sex Scandal Murder Mystery Musical

Music, Book Lyrics by Min Kahng

Vlogger “Self-Made” Jade Kim is in hot water for making ageist remarks on her channel. When she learns that her grandmother June is about to get kicked out of Happy Pleasant Valley Senior Apartments, Jade gladly comes to the rescue – in order to record and broadcast her heroine-ism, saving her reputation. What Jade doesn’t count on is the cause of June’s eviction threat: her “active-living” sex life, which seems to be killing the men she sleeps with. June swears that she and her libido are bring framed, and enlists Jade’s help in tracking down the real murderer.

Happy Pleasant Valley seeks to explode the myth that the enjoyment of sex stops after a certain age, and will explore themes of generation gaps, ageism, and finding connection and relevance in the digital age – all with a little bit of good old-fashioned murder thrown in.

Min Kahng (he/him) is an award-winning Bay Area playwright and composer whose works include The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga, which debuted in TheatreWorks’s 2016 New Works Festival and received a hit production at TheatreWorks in 2017 that won seven San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, including “Entire Production – Bay Area.” Kahng’s other works include The Song of the Nightingale, Inside Out & Back Again, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Kahng also wrote the NEA-funded project Story Explorers, an original musical for young audiences with autism. Kahng has participated in the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor Summer Lab, and TheatreWorks' New Works Festival. He has been a Guest Artist at Harvard University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, San Jose State University and The San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Kahng is a Resident Playwright at Playwrights Foundation, a member of Theatre for Young Audiences USA's Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, and a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.




WILLIAM LIBERATORE (Musical Director) is TheatreWorks’ Resident Musical Director and has conducted over 40 shows, including Pride and Prejudice, Marie and Rosetta, Tuck Everlasting, Fun Home, The Prince of Egypt, Rags, Sweeney Todd, Once on This Island (2014 TBA Award), Little Women, Crowns, Ragtime, and Pacific Overtures. He was Musical Director at American Musical Theatre of San Jose, conducting over 30 shows including Flower Drum Song, Gypsy, A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, Follies, and Children of Eden. He has won Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for A Little Night Music, South Pacific, Damn Yankees (AMTSJ), and Bat Boy: The Musical; Into the Woods; Emma; Caroline, or Change; The Light in the Piazza, The Four Immigrants; and The Bridges of Madison County (TheatreWorks). He is also the director of the award-winning Gunn High School Choirs.


TARA KOSTMAYER* (she/her, Jade) is thrilled to be returning to TheatreWorks! Credits with TheatreWorks include: Pride and Prejudice (Lydia). Off-Broadway credits: A Chorus Line (Diana) at New York City Center Encores! Regional Credits: In the Heights (Vanessa) at Park Playhouse, Disney Cruise Line, Ojo (Fakira) at La Jolla Playhouse's Wow Festival and West Side Story (Rosalia/Anita u/s) at Lamb's Player's Theatre. Proud UCSD graduate. She'd like to thank God, her family and Leo. 







TASI ALABASTRO (he/him, Host/Broadcaster) is an actor, online content creator, and multi-disciplinary digital artist whose work focuses on creating impact through visual storytelling. Recently, his collaboration on Our Digital Stories (a collection of short stories that reflect our time) has re-energized his commitment to creating content that cultivates a digital community. He was recently featured in the SF Chronicle Datebook highlighting his efforts with local arts organizations and virtual programming. His Twitch and Youtube content focuses on storytelling and interactive programming to engage his community. Published in Content Magazine, and Tayo Magazine, he received the 2019 Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award and the 2018 SVCreates Emerging Artist Laureate. Proud member of the Red Ladder Theatre Company currently working with prison inmates on the Arts-in-Corrections program. To support the journey, visit or tweet at @tasialabastro. |






Music and Lyrics by The Kilbanes
Book by Lynn Rosen and Pia Wilson

A sassy and serious musical which follows the ongoing battle in America to celebrate, elevate, liberate, and DEFINE women. Featuring: Helen Gurley Brown, Betty Friedan, Pauli Murray, Flo Kennedy, Shirley Chisholm, and Ida B. Wells, among many others.

THE KILBANES (Music and Lyrics) began as a theatrical rock band led by married songwriting duo Kate Kilbane (she/her) and Dan Moses. A film of their rock opera, Weightless, is part of WP Theater’s 2021 season. Weightless was previously featured at NYC’s Public Theater at Under the Radar in January 2019 and had runs at ACT in 2019 and Z Space in 2018. Their musical adaptation of As You Like It, commissioned by SF Shakespeare Festival, played throughout the Bay Area in summer 2019. Their intergalactic rock epic Eddie the Marvelous, Who Will Save the World, has been developed at the O’Neill National Music Conference, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor and Theatreworks’ New Works Festival. In collaboration with Jessie Austrian and Noah Brody of Fiasco Theater, the Kilbanes were awarded the Next Generation Commission by Theater Latte Da in Minneapolis. They are also under commission with ACT’s Youth Conservatory and, of course, Theatreworks Silicon Valley. Photo Credit: Emily Sevin





LYNN ROSEN (she/her Book) plays, The Imperialists, directed by Christian Parker, and Man and Beast, directed by Giovanna Sardelli, were included in TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival. Her musical Gurley!, in development with The Kilbanes and Giovanna Sardelli, was hosted by TheatreWorks’ Writers Retreat. Lynn is a Playwright In Residence at New Dramatists in NYC and her plays have appeared around the country. She has two web series in production: George Nordstrom: Overtalker and The Ghost of a Socialite from 1972 Who Haunts The Met Wonders Where Everybody Is, and she’s adapting her play Bernard, originally commissioned by UCSB, into an audio play to be produced by Toil & Trouble: A New Dramatists’ Initiative and the Broadway Podcast Network. Lynn is currently developing a TV pilot with a major network. 






PIA WILSON (she/her, Book) is a 2020 Newark Creative Catalyst grant recipient, 2018 Traveling Master for Dramatist Guild Foundation, 2017 NJPAC Stage Exchange commissioned playwright, and 2015 Sundance fellow. She is a 2012-2013 resident with LMCC’s Workspace program, a member of the 2008 Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, and a 2009 playwriting fellow with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Her plays have been produced by Crossroads Theatre, Workspace Collective, Drew University, Adelphi University, Horse Trade Theater Group, and The Fire This Time play festival. Pia’s work as a playwright was part of the curriculum at Franklin & Marshall College in 2019. In television, Pia was a staff writer for National Geographic’s Genius Aretha. Twitter & Instagram: @pwilson720




MICHAEL BARRETT AUSTIN* (he/him, Male Characters/Stage Directions): Mr. Austin last appeared at TheatreWorks in Finks and in previous workshops of Gurley. Other recent appearances include  As You Like It (SF Shakespeare Festival), Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (42nd Street Moon), The Elephant Man (Dr. Frederick Treves) at Hillbarn Theatre, The Other Place (Symmetry Theatre), Boeing Boeing (San Jose Stage), Red Hot Patriot with Kathleen Turner (Berkeley Rep) and the world premiere of Manic Pixie Dream Girl (NY International Fringe Festival). He toured the country with The National Theatre for Children and Italy with Shakespeare at Stinson, and has appeared on television, film and in countless commercials. He is a member of TheatreFirst, Just Theater and PlayGround and proud husband of Emily and father to Lucille.





MELISSA WOLFKLAIN (she/her, Helen Gurley Brown) is excited to return to Theatreworks after the pandemic halted rehearsals for Ragtime midway through! She recently played Mary Bennet in the world premiere musical Pride & Prejudice for TheatreWorks. In addition to appearing in many New Works Festivals and Writers’ Retreats, Ms. WolfKlain also received a SFBATCCA nomination for Tinyard Hill, directed by Robert Kelley. She appeared in the National Tours of 42nd Street and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, both choreographed by Randy Skinner. Some favorites roles include Peter - Peter Pan (BBBay and Mountain Play), Princess Fiona - Shrek The Musical (3DTheatricals), Joan - Dames at Sea (42nd Street Moon - TBA Award), Phoebe - A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (42nd Street Moon) and Fanny Brice - Funny Girl (Hillbarn Theatre) Instagram - @melissawolfklain







Music and Book by Chris Miller
Book and Lyrics by Nathan Tysen
Based on the short story "Eric Hermannson's Soul" by Willa Cather


In a small prairie schoolhouse at the turn of the last century, the leader of a religious sect persuades Elin Hermannson, wildest fiddler on the Nebraska frontier, to renounce sin and destroy her violin. Two years later, visiting Manhattan socialite Margaret Elliott encounters the now taciturn Elin and vows to save her from her ascetic existence and reawaken her passion for music. Margaret's undertaking proves more dangerous than she thought, as both her and Elin’s lives are forever changed. 

Revival is a co-commission between TheatreWorks Silicon Valley & Playwrights Horizons.

CHRIS MILLER (Book, Music) Tuck Everlasting (Broadway 2016): The Burnt Part Boys (Playwrights Horizons/Vineyard Theatre, Lucille Lortel Nominee Best Musical 2011), Fugitive Songs (Drama Desk Award Nominee Outstanding Revue 2008, all have cast albums available at iTunes and Amazon.  Television: Sesame Street, Elmo’s World & The Electric Company. Upcoming: the book, music & lyrics for Ravello (Signature Theatre (VA) American Musical Voices Project), April Twilights, a song cycle for soprano & orchestra using the poetry of Willa Cather, The Goats, a commission for producer Barbara Whitman & Grove Entertainment and with Tysen, Dreamland, for the Educational Theater Association & Concord Theatricals. Proud Graduate of Elon University and NYU.





NATHAN TYSEN (he/him, Book and Lyrics) TheatreWorks: Tuck Everlasting. Broadway & West End: Amélie (with composer and co-lyricist Dan Messé, Olivier & Grammy nominations), Tuck Everlasting (with composer Chris Miller; Outer Critics & Drama League nominations). Regional: Paradise Square (Berkeley Rep). Off-Broadway: The Burnt Part Boys (Playwrights Horizons & Vineyard Theatre; Lucille Lortel nomination), Fugitive Songs  (Drama Desk nomination), Stars of David.  TV/Digital: A Killer Party, "Sesame Street," "Elmo's World" and "The Electric Company." Awards from the Kleban, Ebb, Rodgers, and Larson foundations.  Writer/director for Lovewell Institute, creating original musicals with young adults.  MFA NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, BFA Missouri State University.  Husband to writer Kait Kerrigan, father to Lucy & Tess.





JACKIE BURNS* (she/her, Margaret) has performed at Theaterworks in Revival. She holds the title of Broadway’s longest running Elphaba in WICKED, and can be seen in the commercials and print ads for the show. She starred in the national tour of If/Then where she received rave reviews and was also a part of the original Broadway company. Other credits include the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair (original Broadway company member) and Rock of Ages (original Off-Broadway company member). Selected Regional credits: Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Papermill Playhouse, Casa Manana. TV/Film credits: Set it Up, The Magnificent Meyersons, Ghost. @jackieburnsnyc 





Other Active Commissions


IDRIS GOODWIN (he/him) is an award winning scriptwriter, breakbeat poet, educator and director of The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. He was recently named a 2021 United States Artist Fellow. In addition to Can I Kick It?, he’s had several publications from Haymarket Books including Inauguration co written with nico wilkinson, Human Highlight: Ode To Dominique Wilkins, and the play This Is Modern Art. He’s appeared on Nickelodeon, HBO Def Poetry, Sesame Street, NPR, BBC Radio, and the Discovery Channel.  His plays include And In This Corner Cassius Clay, How We Got On, Hype Man and Jacked!





MANSA RA (Formerly known as Jiréh Breon Holder) is a Memphis, Tennessee native now based in Los Angeles, CA. After Morehouse College, he found the perfect training ground in Sarah Ruhl's playwriting program at the Yale School of Drama. For his professional debut, Mansa returned to his Southern roots to tell a story blending Holder Family lore with the little known history of Nashville’s Freedom Riders. Too Heavy for Your Pocket won the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition and subsequently had an extended off-Broadway run at the Roundabout Theatre. Too Heavy for Your Pocket has been produced regionally in cities from Los Angeles to Chicago, Des Moines to Houston, and more. In 2018, Mansa expanded his craft to the small screen by joining the writing team of NBC's hit medical drama New Amsterdam. Mansa was a recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award and 2016 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, then honored as the Fellowship of Southern Writers' 2017 Bryan Foundation Award for Drama. Next season …what the end will be presented at the Roundabout Theatre in at the Laura Pels Theatre. He is currently developing Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon for ColorCreative. Mansa Ra has four plays pending the pandemic: In the Southern Breeze & What to Do About It, …what the end will be, Shutter Sisters, and A Pyramid on the Mississippi which is a devised ensemble epic developed by Pyramid Theatre Company.


GEETHA REDDY (she/her) Plays include A Mahābhārata (Ubuntu) Far, Far Better Things (Shotgun Players/ TheatreFirst), Hela (with Lauren Gunderson, TheatreFirst), Safe House (SF Playhouse), Blastosphere (with Aaron Loeb, CentralWorks). Geetha’s plays Me Given You, Girl in a Box, and On a Wonderverse were part of the Playwright’s Foundation’s ‘In the Rough’ reading series. Safe House and On a Wonderverse were featured in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Commissions include: TheatreWorks, SFPlayhouse,  Ubuntu Theatre Project, Shotgun Players, Crowded Fire, the Gerbode Foundation, and PlayGround (3). Her short film Obit appeared at LA Shorts, NY Indie Fest, Bend Film Festival, the GI Film Festival and many others. Geetha is a member of the Dramatist’s Guild, and alumni of the Resident Playwright at the Playwright’s Foundation.






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DAN WOLF (he/him, Writer/Performer) is a hip-hop artist who works with rap, theatre, personal narrative, and history to give voice to the problematic world we live in. His multi-sensory work draws its power from years of experience working, teaching, and performing with the critically acclaimed hip-hop music and theatre collective Felonious. His projects have travelled all around the world from concert halls to museums to schools and memorial sites where he engages history and culture as a prompt to make vital music and theatre that can only live in this moment. He is a Resident Playwright at the Playwrights Foundation in San Francisco and is the co-founder of the Bay Area Theatre Cypher, a collective of performers who live on the cross fader of hip hop, theatre, activism, and community.




 RYANNICOLE (she/her, Writer/Performer) Ryan’s most fulfilling experiences intersect art and activism, using her career in media to empower community. Ryan is featured on Alphabet Rockers’ Grammy-nominated album The Love, TEDx San Francisco, ESPN’s “NBA Christmas” with Daveed Diggs and has performed for President Barack Obama. The California State Assembly-recognized artist is the Founder of The HAVEN Project, a cultural media housing justice initiative, and FITTRIP, a travel fitness and wellness guide. She was Executive Director of Youth Movement Records, where she supported the aspirations of thousands of young people seeking careers in the arts. Ryan has been a playwright-in-residence at New York’s Public Theater through the BARS workshop, and has been selected to present original works for the National Performance Network & National American Musical Theater Festival.



PHIL WONG (he/him, Writer Performer) is a theatre artist, writer, and musician from Oakland, CA aka xučyun (unceded Chochenyo Ohlone land). He is a graduate of Oberlin College, a member of the first Bay Area #BARS Cohort, and received physical theatre training at the Accademia dell' Arte in Arezzo, Italy. Phil is also co-founder of Bay Area Theatre Cypher. He has been active in his community since he was very young and is constantly working to make his art more conscious, empathetic, relevant, and revolutionary.





SEAN SAN JOSÉ (he/him, Developer/Director) is a writer, director, performer, and co-founder of Campo Santo, a new performances company for People of Color in San Francisco. Founded in 1996, Campo Santo is an award-winning group committed to developing new performance and to nurturing People of Color centered new audiences and has premiered nearly 100 new pieces. He is hyped to return to work with longtime collaborators on Dan Wolf's piece.





DELINADREAM (she/her, Writer/Performer) is a multi-hyphenate whose work has been commissioned/presented by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, National Performance Network, CounterPulse Theater, The Black Choreographers Festival, LA Women’s Theater Festival, Dance Brigade’s D.I.R.T Festival, AfroSolo Festival and more. She toured the U.S. and Western Europe with The Living Word Project and Youth Speaks, and choreographed and danced for Nas & Damian Marley, Kanye West’s Sunday Service at Coachella and Chance the Rapper on SNL among others. Delina recently transitioned into the TV/Film industry, supporting EP’s with shows on HBO, Fox, Hulu, Disney/Freeform, ABC and NBC.




JUAN AMADOR (he/him, Writer/Performer) is an actor, emcee, DJ, and member of Campo Santo. Regional Credits: Between Riverside and Crazy (San Jose Stage); Quixote Nuevo (Cal Shakes); Oedipus El Rey, A Lie of the Mind (Magic Theatre); Candlestick (ACT Costume Shop); Casa de Spirits (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts); To The Bone (Ubuntu Theater Project); Babylon is Burning (Z Space); Superheroes (Cutting Ball Theater). National Tours: Quixote Nuevo (Hartford Stage/Huntington Theatre Company/Alley Theatre); Nogales (Borderlands Theater/Magic Theater); Tree City Legends (Living Word Project). Web Series: East WillyB. Film: Side Effects (Campo Santo). Awards: Connecticut Critics Circle; Grammy Award nominee.




KEITH PINTO (he/him, Composer) is a multi-disciplinary artist from the peninsula. He is a graduate of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. As Ken Primo he has produced music for The Bay Area Theatre Cypher’s “Episode One: Community” and “8 Bars for the Reckoning” videos as well as 3 “Just the Facts” videos inspired by 2020 California Ballot Measures for KQED’s Ballots and Brews. With Emcee Infinite (Carlos Aguirre) he produced “White Boy, Black Keys, Brown Rapper” a hip hop album sampled from the music of the rock duo The Black Keys as well as the remix album “WhiteBlackBrown - the Remixes”. He is co-founder of the award-winning hip hop band and theatre company, Felonious.




ASHLEY SMILEY (better known as) Smiley (she/her, Dramaturg/Production Assistant) is a full spectrum creator with a focus on the living written word. Smiley finds her creative home in the Campo Santo Familia. Smiley is a 2020 YBCA100 Honoree and currently serves as the Theater Manager for the Bayview Opera House. She is currently working on “Oh Really?!” a 12-week radio series with CCA Wattis that will also debut The Dub Notes. Smiley holds a B.A. in Performing Arts and Social Justice (University of San Francisco) and an M.A. in Drama (San Francisco State University), and will begin her doctoral program at the Graduate Theological Union joining the Historic and Cultural Studies in Religion Program with a concentration in Art and Religion.





BAY AREA THEATRE CYPHER, co-founded in 2019 by Dan Wolf and Phil Wong, is a creative hub for multi-hyphenate hip hop theatre artists that prioritize equity, radical discussion, and social justice. The Cypher was created as a space for theatre makers to express their issues and frustrations plaguing the local and national theatre community (institutional racism, wage inequality, gender imbalance, unsafe spaces, etc.) through the lens of hip hop. We have since grown to be an artist centric collective that creates rap videos, live performances, and full length theatrical projects (virtual and in-person).


PLAYWRIGHTS FOUNDATION Founded in 1976, Playwrights Foundation (PF) is today widely recognized as one of the top organizations in the U.S. dedicated to the creative development and career acceleration of contemporary playwrights. Our mission is to support and champion diverse contemporary playwrights in the creation of new works to sustain theater as a vital, dynamic art form. To date, PF has served over 500 exceptionally gifted emerging and mid-career writers as they reach for national prominence. Our programs include: the Bay Area Playwrights Festival; the Resident Playwrights Initiative, the Producing Partners Initiative, and our mentorship program, which provides training and experience to young artists and arts administrators, and helps them advance their careers.


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Lizard Boy


JUSTIN HUERTAS* (he/him, Music, Book, Lyrics, Performer) is a Seattle-based award-winning playwright, composer-lyricist, actor, and musician. His original musical Lizard Boy world-premiered at Seattle Rep, toured to Diversionary Theatre, presented at NAMT’s Festival of New Musicals, and returns to the stage this fall at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Justin also wrote The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion (co-composed with Steven Tran) for ArtsWest Playhouse & Gallery and Lydia & the Troll (co-created by Ameenah Kaplan) for Seattle Rep. He is composer-lyricist for Howl’s Moving Castle (Book-It Repertory Theatre) and The Lamplighter (co-written with Kirsten “Kiki” deLohr Helland and Sara Porkalob). Justin is currently under commission at Seattle Rep, the 5th Avenue Theatre, ArtsWest Playhouse & Gallery, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.




BRANDON IVIE (he/him, Director) is currently the Associate Artistic Director at Village Theatre in Seattle. World premieres: Lizard Boy, The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, Jasper in Deadland, String, The Yellow Wood, The Hinterlands. Broadway assisting: Next to Normal, A Christmas Story, Catch Me If You Can, First Date. NYC/regional: The Public Theater/Joe’s Pub, HERE Arts Center, Prospect Theatre Company, Paper Mill Playhouse, Signature Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, Goodspeed Musicals, Ford’s Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Seattle Rep, Diversionary Theatre, and The 5th Avenue Theatre where he spent four seasons as Casting Director. Drama League Directing Fellow, Charles Abbott Directing Fellowship, LCT Directors Lab. UW School of Drama.




WILLIAM A. WILLIAMS* (he/him, Cary) A California native, William is a musician/actor now based in New York City. He originated the role of Cary in Lizard Boy at Seattle Rep, for which he won a Gregory Award for best supporting actor. Other regional credits include: Of Mice and Men (Seattle Rep), Zanna, Don’t!, …Spelling Bee (Contemporary Classics), Beauty and the Beast, Showboat, The Gypsy King (Village Theatre), Romeo and Juliet, Comedy of Errors (Seattle Shakespeare Company). William played guitar in productions of Spring Awakening (Balagan), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (ArtsWest) and took on the bass guitar for The Iceman Lab at Target Margin in NYC. William received a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts.





KIRSTEN "KIKI DELOHR" HELLAND* (she/her, Siren) is a Seattle-based award-winning performer. Seattle Rep: Lizard Boy. 5th Avenue Theatre: The Sound of Music (Maria), Grease (Rizzo), Oklahoma! (Ado Annie), Elf (Jovie), Hairspray in Concert (Penny Pingleton). Village Theatre: Les Misérables (Eponine), Trails (Amy), The Tutor (Hildegarde), String (Lachesis, Beta Series), Afterwords (Jo, Beta Series). ArtsWest: American Idiot (Whatsername). Film: Laggies (dir. Lynn Shelton). Helland is co-writer of The Lamplighter (with Justin Huertas and Sara Porkalob).






AKEMI OKAMURA (she/her, Stage Directions) is currently located in Los Angeles, where she works for Netflix Animation. Past Bay Area credits include Grace in Tigers Be Still (City Lights Theater Company), Ensemble in HeLa (TheatreFIRST), Ensemble in Yellow Face (Los Altos Stage Company), Cassandra in Troilus and Cressida (Impact Theatre), Melissa in The Drunken City (Renegade Theatre Experiment), and Charmian in Antony and Cleopatra, Gonzala in The Tempest, Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice, and Lodovico/Senator in Othello at Silicon Valley Shakespeare. She holds a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Puget Sound, and an MFA in Producing Film and Television from Chapman University’s Dodge College.






TAYLOR MCQUESTEN* (she/her, Stage Manager) McQuesten has worked internationally since 2004 as a stage manager, production manager, master electrician, properties designer, sound technician, and stuntwoman. From theater to film, music and live events, credits include eight seasons at TheatreWorks (resident stage manager), SF Sketchfest (assistant technical director), California Shakespeare Theatre (master electrician), Legion A/V (head of lighting), Playfaire Productions (swordswoman), The Independent SF (lighting designer), Highlander Films (production assistant), ACT, Center REP, Cabrillo Stage, Hillbarn Theatre, the Magic Theatre, and many more. She also trains mêlée weapons at Davenriche European Martial Arts School under master swordsman Sir Steaphen Fick, and looks forward to hitting the road again this next year as tour manager of Evan Rachel Wood and Zane Carney's band, EVAN+ZANE. 


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As Soon As Impossible


BETTY SHAMIEH (she/her, Playwright) Born and raised in the Bay Area, Betty Shamieh is an Arab-American playwright.  Her productions include The Black Eyed (New York Theatre Workshop & The Magic Theatre), Territories (The Magic Theatre), Fit for a Queen (Classical Theatre of Harlem), and Roar (The New Group). A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, she was named a UNESCO Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue and a Guggenheim Fellow in Creative Arts.  She is a Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at the Classical Theatre of Harlem and a 2021 Denning Visiting Artist at Stanford University.





SAMER AL-SABER (he/him, Director) Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford University, is a director, writer, and scholar. His expertise comprises solving casting dilemmas, project management, setting up collaborations, and advancing theoretical/critical concepts to address immediate problems in the entertainment fields.  His written work appeared in Alt.Theatre, Performance Paradigm, Critical Survey, Theatre Survey, and other academic and trade venues, including the anthology Stories Under Occupation and Other Plays from Palestine, co-edited with Gary English. As director, his work was seen in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Middle East and includes the Middle Eastern premier of Arthur Milner’s Facts and an Arabic adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.




MARGARITA JAMERO (she/her, Layla) has appeared in Sheldon Theatreworks' production of Romeo and Juliet as Lady Capulet and The Trojan Women as Hecuba. She most recently played a lead role in Gold Spike Studios' short film Boys Will Be Boys. She is currently earning her BA in Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford University.






RUSH REHM (Arthur)
has acted and directed at regional theaters including McCarter Theater (Princeton), Alliance Theater and Seven Stages (Atlanta), Arena Stage (Washington, D.C.), and Magic Theater, Cutting Ball, WePlayers, and TheatreWorks in the Bay Area. Founder and Artistic Director of Stanford Repertory Theater, Rush has directed and acted in many productions, including Beckett’s Happy Days (starring Courtney Walsh) which played in San Francisco, Montpellier, and Paris. He is co-compiler and director of Voices of the Earth; From Sophocles to Rachel Carson and Beyond, an environmental theater piece available for free in various formats at Professor of Theater and Classics at Stanford University, he is the author of Euripides: Electra, Understanding Greek Tragic Theatre, and Radical Theatre: Greek Tragedy and the Modern World.




ALOK TEWARI* (Ramsey) Broadway: The Band’s Visit. Other Theatre: India Pale Ale (MTC); Monsoon Wedding (Berkeley Rep), The Band’s Visit (Atlantic), Awake and Sing! (Public/NAATCO), A Fable, Through the Yellow Hour, War (Rattlestick), Bunty Berman Presents, Rafta, Rafta… (New Group). Television: Ramy, FBI, Billions, BULL, Looming Tower, Iron Fist, House of Cards, Madam Secretary, Homeland, Fringe. Film: Love-40 (upcoming), Pirates of Somalia, Shelter, Brooklyn’s Finest.






HENRY ALPER (he/him, Drew) is excited to be making his onstage TheatreWorks debut, digital or no! Previous in-person productions include The Winter's Tale (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival) Hamlet (Pale Fire Theater), and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Pear Avenue Theatre). Previous digital productions include AJ's Annual Party (Dragon Productions Theatre Company), Romeo & Juliet (Oakland Classical Theatre Company), & Antigone (Santa Barbara City College). Currently on a gap year, he is in the process of applying for transfer admission to college.






MARINA J. BERGENSTOCK (she/her, Stage Directions/Dramaturg/Co-Assistant Director) is a director, dramaturg, educator and first year PhD student in Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford. She earned her MFA in Directing at the University of Iowa. Her research interests include hyphenated and diasporic identities and the performance of them in the Arab world and in the United States, and theatre as a catalyst for political, structural, and social reform. Her work has been published in MATC’s Theatre/Practice, Eumenica, and in Arab Stages.






ELLEN ABRAHAM (she/her, Co-Assistant Director) is a freshman at Stanford University prospectively double majoring in English and Theater and Performance Studies. She recently assisted directed Gaieties 2020 for Ram's Head Theatrical Society and is an active member of the Stanford Theater Lab as a playwright and intern. You can check out her newest production that she is stage managing, Gaieties 2021, at Stanford University in November!






JOURNEY WASHINGTONHIGH (she/her, Dramaturg) has performed with Ram's Head Theatrical Society in La Llorona, and Stanford's Department of Theater and Performance Studies Chocolate Heads Movement Band in Traveling in Place and in Riot of Spring.








BENJAMIN KIT WONG (Stage Manager) has previously worked backstage on Pride & Prejudice, The 39 Steps, and The Language Archive. This is his first New Works Festival since interning with TheatreWorks in the summers of 2016 and 2017. He graduated from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa where he wrote his own major in theatre. 


Tiffany Michelle Cartagena (Dramaturg) - Biography incoming

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A Distinct Society


KAREEM FAHMY (Playwright)  is a Canadian-born playwright and director of Egyptian descent. His plays, which include American Fast, A Distinct Society, The Triumphant, Pareidolia, The In-Between, and an adaptation of the acclaimed Egyptian novel The Yacoubian Building, have been developed at theatres nationwide. Fellowships/Residencies: Sundance Theatre Lab, TCG Rising Leader of Color, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Phil Killian Directing Fellow), The O’Neill (National Directors Fellow), Second Stage (Van Lier Directing Fellow), Soho Rep (Writer/Director Lab), Lincoln Center (Directors Lab), New York Theater Workshop (Emerging Artist Fellow). Fahmy is the co-founder of the Middle Eastern American Writers Lab at The Lark and of Maia Directors, a consulting group for organizations and artists engaging with stories from the Middle East. MFA (Directing): Columbia University.




Giovanna Sardelli (Director) is TheatreWorks’ Artistic Associate and Director of New Works. Her many directing credits at TheatreWorks include the March 2020 Northern California Premiere of They Promised Her the Moon, as well as Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph’s Archduke (2019), FINKS (2018), The Velocity of Autumn and Crimes of the Heart (2016), Joseph’s The Lake Effect (2015), Somewhere by Matthew Lopez (2013), and the World Premiere of Joseph’s The North Pool (2011). Sardelli is set to direct TheatreWorks’s upcoming productions of It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and Nan and the Lower Body in the company’s 51st season.






JANEL MILEY* (she/her, Dialect Coach) has coached with TheatreWorks for The Language Archive, The 39 Steps, and Born in East Berlin. She has served as a Dialect/Text coach for productions at theatres and universities across the country, including Twelfth Night at University of Evansville, Spamalot at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Erik Ehn’s adaptation of Mother Courage at West Virginia University. Ms. Miley holds an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a member of AEA and VASTA and a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner.






BARZIN AKHAVAN* (he/him, Peyman Jilani ) is making his TheatreWorks debut with A Distinct Society. He was seen on Broadway in Ivo Van Hove's Network starring Bryan Cranston and Tatianna Maslany. Off Broadway credits: Macbeth (Classic Stage), Richard II (The Public/WNYC), and Hamlet (Waterwell). A mixed US and International tour of Aftermath.  Select Regional credits include: The World Premiere's of The Kite Runner (SFBATCC Best Actor Nom) at San Jose Rep and A Thousand Splendid Suns (ACT), Mary Zimmerman 's Arabian Nights (Berkeley Rep, Arena Stage, Lookingglass), Invisible Hand (Marin Theatre Co), Disgraced (Cincinnati Playhouse), Shakespeare in Love (Cincinnati Playhouse and Baltimore Center Stage), 5 Seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, 4 with the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, and 1 with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Film credits: Anniversary, Joyful, and Funny Face. Television credits: Law and Order CI, Smash, The Blacklist, Chicago Med, and the upcoming comedy Girls5Eva. He holds an MFA from the University of Washington.




SUSAAN JAMSHIDI* (she/her, Shirin Gilani) is excited to be working with TheatreWorks, SV for the first time and A Distinct Society for the third time! Chicago credits: Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass, Victory Gardens, Drury Lane, The Gift, Northlight, Remy Bumppo, Theatre Wit, and Sideshow (Jeff Award Best Ensemble – Idomeneus), among others. Regional theater: Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, among others. International tours: Oh My Sweet Land (London/Toronto/Vancouver) with Silk Road Rising. Film/television: Little Nations, Cicero in Winter, The Wallet, Chicago Med, Chicago P.D. and Sirens. Jamshidi earned her MFA from DePaul University, is represented by Paonessa Talent, and is a proud member of Medina Theatre Collective. Jamshidi is also an avid potter. You can follow her on Instagram @susaanlayla and @littlefigwheelworks.




KEILYN DURREL JONES* (Bruce) has performed with TheatreWorks in Man and Beast by Lynn Rosen. Other theatre (NYC): Troilus and Cressida (Shakespeare in the Park), Lone Star Spirits (Crowded Outlet), BreakPoint (SummerShorts), Sparring Partner (SummerShorts). Regional; The Lion in Winter (Two River Theatre), Love in the Wars (Bard Summerscape), Yellowman (Henley Street Theatre Co.), Las Meninas (RepStage), A Midsummer Night's Dream (HCC Arts Collective), Fences (Laurel Mill Playhouse). TV: High Maintenance (HBO), The I-Land (Netflix), The Affair (Showtime), Jessica Jones (Netflix), The Path (Hulu), Chicago Fire (NBC), Blue Bloods (CBS), The Equalizer (CBS), Elementary (CBS), Time After Time (ABC), Shades of Blue (NBC), Deception (ABC).  He is a proud member of the 52nd St. Project. BFA: UMBC, MFA: NYU Grad Acting.





MARGARITA JAMERO (she/her, Stage Directions) most recently appeared with TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival as Layla in AS SOON AS IMPOSSIBLE. She has appeared in Sheldon TheatreWorks’ production of Romeo and Juliet as Lady Capulet and The Trojan Women as Hecuba. She recently played a lead role in Gold Spike Studios’ short film Boys Will Be Boys. She is currently earning her BA in Theatre and Performance Studies at Stanford University.







CARRIE PAFF* (she/her, Manon Desjardins) TheatreWorks: Aphrodite in Pandora (reading). Off-Broadway: Alice in Calvin Trillin’s About Alice at Theatre for a New Audience and Ideation at 59E59 (New York Times Critic’s Pick). Regional: King Charles III (A.C.T.), Stage Kiss and Stupid Fucking Bird (San Francisco Playhouse), Double Indemnity (ACT Seattle), The Real Thing, A Delicate Balance and Betrayal (Aurora Theatre), Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and Holmes & Watson (Arizona Theatre Company), The Other Place (Magic Theatre), Legacy of Light (San Jose Rep), A Streetcar Named Desire and Tiny Alice (Marin Theatre Company), and Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress (Leicester Square Theatre, London). She can be heard in Pixar’s Finding Dory, The Good Dinosaur and Lamp Life. She holds a master's degree from New York University.





HENRY ALPER (he/him, Declan) is excited to be making his onstage TheatreWorks debut, digital or no! Previous in-person productions include The Winter's Tale (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival) Hamlet (Pale Fire Theater), and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Pear Avenue Theatre). Previous digital productions include AJ's Annual Party (Dragon Productions Theatre Company), Romeo & Juliet (Oakland Classical Theatre Company), & Antigone (Santa Barbara City College). Currently on a gap year, he is in the process of applying for transfer admission to college.






KIMBERLY COLBURN (she/her, Dramaturg) is a dramaturg and producer based in Toronto with several projects in development, including the musical Dixon Road by Fatuma Adar with Musical Stage Company, the musical Rose by Sarah Wilson and Mike Ross with Soulpepper Theatre, and Yellowstone by Jennifer Barcley with Local Theatre Company. Previously, she was South Coast Rep’s literary director. Highlights of dramaturgical work at SCR include the world premiere productions of Qui Nguyen’s Poor Yella Rednecks, Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House Part 2, Kemp Powers’ Little Black Shadows, and Bekah Brunstetter’s Going to a Place, among others. Formerly, she was literary manager at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she was dramaturg for the world premieres of Partners by Dorothy Fortenberry and The Roommate by Jen Silverman.





EMILY ANDERSON WOLF* (Stage Manager) has been the Assistant Stage Manager for TheatreWorks’ Archduke, Frost/Nixon, Fun Home, Finks, The Prince of Egypt, Rags, Crimes of the Heart, Jane Austen’s Emma, Triangle, Fire on the Mountain, Peter and the Starcatcher, Sweeney Todd, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Little Women, and Other Desert Cities. She was also the Assistant Stage Manager for threesixty Entertainment’s First National Tour of Peter Pan; Journey to the West at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and with American Musical Theatre of San Jose. Ms. Wolf also works as a stagehand throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and is a proud member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. She holds a BA in Theatre, Cum Laude from Mount Holyoke College.


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pas de deux (lost my shoe)


LISA RAMIREZ* (Playwright) Writing credits include EXIT CUCKOO (nanny in motherland), world premiere produced by the Working Theater in NYC (Colman Domingo, dir.), ART OF MEMORY, a dance theatre piece commissioned by Company SoGoNo, presented at the 3-Legged Dog in NYC (Tanya Calamoneri, dir.), pas de deux (lost my shoe), Cherry Lane Theatre Mentor Project (Bryan Davidson Blue, dir.), TO THE BONE, a Working Theater commission, world premiere produced by the Cherry Lane Theatre (Lisa Peterson, dir.), DOWN HERE BELOW, an adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s THE LOWER DEPTHS, commission and world premiere by the Oakland Theater Project (Michael French, dir.), IN THE MOUNTAINS, a commission by The Workshop Theater (Thomas Coté, dir.), MORE THAN GRAPES, a commission and collaboration with Jeffrey Lo and Carlos Aguirre, world premiere by TheatreFIRST (Sean San José, dir.). Currently working on a commission of sAiNt jOaN (burn/burn/burn), an adaptation for the Oakland Theater Project (Michael Moran, dir.).




JEFFREY LO (Director) is a Filipino-American playwright and director based in the Bay Area. He is the recipient of the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award, the Emerging Artist Laureate by Arts Council Silicon Valley and Theatre Bay Area Director's TITAN Award. Selected directing credits include The Language Archive and The Santaland Diaries at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Vietgone and The Great Leap at Capital Stage, A Doll’s House, Part 2 and Eurydice at Palo Alto Players (TBA Awards finalist for Best Direction). In addition to his work in theatre he works as an educator and advocate for issues of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and has served as a grant panelist for the Zellerbach Family Foundation, Silicon Valley Creates and Theatre Bay Area. He is the Director Community Partnerships and Casting Director at the Tony Award Winning TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. For more



STEPHEN MUTERSPAUGH (Video Production) has appeared on the TheatreWorks stage in Frost/Nixon, Cyrano, and The Country House as well as in Tiny Houses in the 2017 New Works Festival. Regional credits include Southwest Shakespeare Co., Utah Shakespeare Festival, Creede Repertory Theatre, Pacific Conservatory Theatre, Powerhouse Theater, and Geva Theatre Center. He has appeared locally with Jewel Theatre Co., San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, California Conservatory Theatre, Livermore Shakespeare Festival, Second Wind Productions, and Marin Shakespeare Co. When not onstage, Mr. Muterspaugh serves as the Artistic Digital Production and Operations Manager/Company Manager at TheatreWorks. Since pivoting to virtual programming, he has produced/edited all artistic digital programming for TheatreWorks, including Voices of Democracy, Pandora, Shakespeare in Vegas, Simple Gifts and the New Works Festival Online.




RANDALL K. LUM* (Stage Manager) has stage managed TheatreWorks’ They Promised Her the Moon, Archduke, Fun Home, Hold These Truths, New Works Festival – Pride and Prejudice, Finks, Skeleton Crew, Around the World in 80 Days, The Prince of Egypt, Constellations, Rags, Outside Mullingar, Confederates, The Velocity of Autumn, Jane Austen’s EMMA, The Country House, Fallen Angels, The Lake Effect, Peter and the Starcatcher, Time Stands Still, Other Desert Cities, Once on This Island, and Little Women. Other credits: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, The Old Globe, American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Laguna Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, and 18 seasons and over 90 productions as Resident Stage Manager at South Coast Repertory.




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*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States