Meet the Labbies: DON NGUYEN

Founded in 2004, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. We reached out to a few of the members to learn more about the artists that are shaping the landscape of theatre for Asians.


 

Meet Don Nguyen.

 

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Don’s work has been developed or produced across the nation from The Bay Area Playwrights Festival to The Public Theater. Don is a proud member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group, The Civilians inaugural R&D Group, the 52nd Street Project, and a co-founder of Mission to (dit)Mars, a Queens based theatre arts collective.

Ma-Yi Theater Company: Who are you?
Don Nguyen: I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Nebraska, and currently reside in New York.  I used to run my own theater company in Omaha while holding down a full time job as a defense contractor where I wrote top secret code for the military, notably the US Army and the Department of Defense. I’m now a playwright, but I’m also a closet inventor.  I have stacks of notepads full of sketches for things like sustainable and portable housing for the homeless, airline cabin configurations designed for maximum arm and leg room, and jetpacks to make MTA commutes obsolete.  All of this is true.

MYTC: What play(s) are you currently working on?
DN: I’m currently working on two plays, a first draft of HELLO, FROM THE CHILDREN OF PLANET EARTH about sperm donorship and interstellar space travel and rewrite of THE SUPREME LEADER, which is a coming of age story about Kim Jong-Un and his school days in Switzerland. The first play is seriously hilarious and the second play is hilariously serious. In my mind.

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Meet the Labbies: MASHUQ DEEN

Founded in 2004, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. We reached out to a few of the members to learn more about the artists that are shaping the landscape of theatre for Asians.


 

Meet Mashuq Deen.

 

Mashuq Deen

Mashuq is a Brooklyn-based theater artist who is currently on the new Literary Committee at Queens Theatre in the Park. He is an activist for the South Asian LGBTQ community, promotes transgender inclusion and advocacy, and has a myriad of hobbies ranging from bread baking to woodworking.

Ma-Yi Theater Company: Who are you?
Mashuq Deen: I am a person who loves my partner and tries to make a home for my friends. I think WHO YOU ARE, in the end, is more important than WHAT YOU DO. I like to cook and I like having an audience for my cooking. I have in the past made stuffed monsters and adopted them out to humans in need. I can talk about levain (aka starter) (aka bread yeast) for a long time. I’m a certified yoga teacher. I often feel more in the closet about my beliefs than about my queerness, especially here in the city. I have a problem with the word “ambition” but not with the word “determined.” I like spending time with my in-laws. I play Canasta with my parents whenever I can. If I died today, the one thing I’d regret is not having a dog.

MYTC: What kind of stories do you like to tell?
MD: Political stories. Stories about injustice. Stories that make something inside you crack open and cry, maybe. Stories about people who love each other in painful ways. Stories about dark things and stories about hope. (I wouldn’t use the words “like to tell” so much as “have to tell.”)

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Meet the Labbies: CLARENCE COO

Founded in 2004, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. We reached out to a few of the members to learn more about the artists that are shaping the landscape of theatre for Asians.


 

Meet Clarence Coo.

 

Clarence Coo

Clarence is the recepient of the 2012 Yale Drama Series Prize for Emerging Playwrights. In addition to being a member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, he is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, and the program administrator of Columbia’s MFA Writing Program. His play “The Birds of Empathy” will be a part of the Fall LabFest 2015.

Ma-Yi Theater Company: What kind of stories do you like to tell?
Clarence Coo: I like to tell stories of characters encountering a language they’ve never encountered before. And who then try to figure out how that language works. Sometimes the language is literal, like French or English. Sometimes the language has a more metaphorical meaning, like the language of birds.

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Meet the Labbies: MRINALINI KAMATH

Founded in 2004, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. We reached out to a few of the members to learn more about the artists that are shaping the landscape of theatre for Asians.


 

Meet Mrinalini Kamath.

 

mrinalinikamath

Mrinalini’s plays have been performed around the country as well as the UK, India, and Australia. Her play “The New Deal” will be a part of the Fall LabFest 2015 and will have a reading in the spring at Stage Left Theatre in Chicago.

Ma-Yi Theater Company: Who are you?
Mrinalini Kamath: Gaah – this is a hard question to answer. I’m a playwright who loves museums (best reason to live in NYC) and books and chocolate and hanging out with small groups of people and going to the theatre. At the moment I’m obsessed with a Canadian TV show called Continuum because the idea of being able to send someone back in time to prevent yourself from doing stuff you’ll regret is highly appealing. I’ll leave it at that for now. I also love the Museum of the Moving Image – I guess I’m a good Astorian.

MYTC: What kind of stories do you like to tell?
MK: I like having the capability to write about whatever interests me. The thing I don’t like is getting boxed in to telling a particular story about a particular subject in a particular way.

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Meet the Labbies: NANDITA SHENOY

Founded in 2004, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. We reached out to a few of the members to learn more about the artists that are shaping the landscape of theatre for Asians.


 

Meet Nandita Shenoy!

 

Nandita Shenoy

Nandita is a writer-actor making her Off-Broadway debut as a playwright with Ma-Yi Theater Company. Her play, “Washer/Dryer” will be a part of the Fall LabFest 2015 as well as one of our main stage productions in 2016.

Ma-Yi Theater Company: Who are you?
Nandita Shenoy: A sassy New York gal.

MYTC: What kind of stories do you like to tell?
NS: Funny ones with heart

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Meet the Labbies: DEEPA PUROHIT

Founded in 2004, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. We reached out to a few of the members to learn more about the artists that are shaping the landscape of theatre for Asians.


 

Meet Deepa Purohit.

 

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Deepa has spent over a decade crafting spaces for artists of colors to share their stories. Her play, The Untitled Yo Project will be a part of the Fall LabFest 2015.

Ma-Yi Theater Company: Who are you?
Deepa Purohit: I’m a woman, mother, writer, theater artist, brown person, Indian American, sister, daughter / who is a beast when she’s not creating- especially to her loved ones / and who believes deeply in the power of teaching as a way to change kids and, in effect, the world.

MYTC: What kind of stories do you like to tell?
DP: Stories of people of color, funny, that reside in the darker crevices of the world hungering for light, breath and air.

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Meet the Labbies: DAMON CHUA

Founded in 2004, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. We reached out to a few of the members to learn more about the artists that are shaping the landscape of theatre for Asians.


 

Meet Damon Chua.

 

Damon-Chua[1]

Damon’s plays have been presented internationally from Toronto to Singapore. His play, And Baby Makes Gray” will be a part of the Fall LabFest 2015.
See below for more upcoming events for Damon’s work.

Ma-Yi Theater Company: Are there any upcoming readings, workshops, and/or productions of your work coming up? Tell us when and where!
Damon Chua:
9/17/15: Staged reading of “A Book By Its Cover” at the Singapore Arts Festival (New York)
Winter 2015/2016: Staged reading of “A Book By Its Cover” at Yangtze Rep (New York)
Spring 2016: World Premiere of “The Emperor’s Nightingale” at Adventure Theatre MTC (DC)”

MYTC: Do you have a website?
DC: www.damonchua.com


Damon Chua is the recipient of an Ovation Award (Best World Premiere Play) for Film Chinois, which made its Off-Broadway debut with Pan Asian Repertory Theatre in 2015. His other produced works include 1969: A Fantastical Odyssey Through the American Mindscape; A Book By Its Cover; and The Ghost Building. A National Endowment for the Arts, Dramatists Guild Fund, UNESCO and Durfee Foundation grant recipient, Chua’s plays are published by Samuel French, Smith & Kraus, and the Proscenium Journal.
A member of The Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group 2014-15, Damon’s plays have been staged in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and presented in London, Singapore and Toronto. His TYA play The Emperor’s Nightingale will receive its world premiere with Adventure Theatre MTC in 2016.

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