Awards, Honors & Residencies: 2017-2018 A Banner Season for The Labbies

Ma-Yi Writers Lab Members are getting recognition and praise for their playwriting achievements and originality on a daily basis across the US. Here are a review of their top honors and acknowledgements over the past year or so:


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Mike Lew and Rehana Lew Mirza are the Mellow Resident Playwrights at Ma-Yi Theater Company. Shown in photo with their child in an article from Howlround about their career in playwrighting while parenting.

Goodspeed Johnny Mercer Writers Colony 2018 writing teams, included Ma-Yi Writers Lab Members, Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew (Mellon Resident Playwrights of Ma-Yi Theater). A total of 38 established and emerging composers, lyricists, and librettists  converged on the Goodspeed campus from mid-January through mid-February 2018 to participate in the Johnny Mercer Foundation Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals.

Mike and Rehana’s play, BHANGIN’ IT was selected for Rhinebeck Writers Retreat’s Triple R program, which gives musical theatre writers 2 readings and a residency to do extensive development in a compressed time frame, culminating in a staged reading. The program was fully funded by Rhinebeck Writers Retreat and made possible through a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts

In February 2018, Mike was awarded the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for an Emerging American Playwright, a playwright with great talent and potential for lasting impact, “for his original voice, playful sense of provocation, and his body of works including Stockton, microcrisis, and Tiger Style!”

Summer of 2017, Mike was selected for the Creative Residency program at SPACE on Ryder Farm to develop new work on its 221-year-old working farm.

Rehana Lew Mirza was one of 11 writers selected, out of 3,600 submissions, to participate in the 2017 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship, which ran from July through February with a series of master classes after which each writer or team was paired with an executive mentor.


Ma-Yi Writers Lab PlaywrightMa-Yi Writers Lab Member

Audible announced its first round of commissions for playwrights, — 15 emerging theater writers including writers Lab Members Leah Nanako Winkler and Madhuri Shekar, were awarded grants to pen one- and two-person audio plays. The grants come from a $5 million fund set up by Audible. Playwrights have been given full creative control, and they’re encouraged to stay involved when the plays are cast and recorded. Women and people of color account for 73% of the inaugural class.

In August 2017, Madhuri Shekar’s play, Queen, at Victory Gardens Theater, received the JEFF Awards for best new play in the Chicago. area.

Leah Winkler was awarded The Actor’s Fund and Playwrights Horizons annual Mark O’Donnell Prize which recognizes an emerging theatre artist, and comes with $25,000 and developmental support that includes one week to prepare a reading of a new work. The Lark awarded Leah The Jerome Fellowship for the years 2017-2019 for the purpose of providing assistance to her in the development of a new play and Leah is also a Time Warner Fellow at the Women’s Project Theater.


Hansol Jung

Labbie, Hansol Jung and her Wolf Play particpated in  2017/2018 At the Table- Artist Rep commissions for playwrights to start a new play, to finish one already begun or to revisit one that hasn’t yet been fully realized, for writers who have a truly distinctive voice and offer fresh perspectives on the human condition, and are committed to offering women, non-binary and transgender writers,  writers of color, and writers of work for young audiences a place at the table.


Cherry Lane Theatre chose Labbie Sam Chance as one of this year’s playwrights  for the 20th season of its MENTOR PROJECT, a program that partners an emerging author with a seasoned professional for a year of script work, rewrites, casting, rehearsals, and a full production. Sam’s The Opportunities of Extinction, will be running from March 28-April 7. Chanse will be mentored by NEA Fellow Migdalia Cruz.

The Lark  Line Up of Six Plays for 24th Annual Playwrights’ Week Open Access Program (selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 submissions) chose The Other Instinct by Sam Chanse. Other recent works developed in Playwrights’ Week include No More Sad Things by Hansol Jung presented  in October 2017 at Forward Flux Productions.

SPACE on Ryder Farm awarded Sam Chanse the opportuity to develop new work on its 221-year-old working farm this past summer in the Creative Residency program.



Labbie, Lauren Yee won the Kesselring Prize for Playwriting from the National Arts Club  has been named the winner of the $25,000 grant. Tony-winning M. Butterfly playwright David Henry Hwang presented at a ceremony at the historic clubhouse in New York City November 5, 2017.

Lauren is also named as a finalist  for her play, The Great Leap for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, an award considered the oldest and largest prize given exclusively to women playwrights.

Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton announced the Hodder Fellows for 2018-2019, including Lauren Yee. The fellowship was created to provide artists and humanists in the early stages of their careers an opportunity to undertake significant new work. Her play King of the Yees won the Women’s 2016 Invitational at the Ashland New Play Festival, and is being produced by four regional theaters this season alone.

Lauren is also the The American Theatre Critics Association  ATCA/Francesca Primus Prize winner (for in a word) and received a $10,000 award check and was officially congratulated at the ATCA conference, and was a ATCA/Steinberg Award finalist (for in a word).

Leah Nanako Winkler, Susan Soon He Stanton, and Dipika Guha

Ma-Yi Writers Lab Playwrightsusanstanton-1Dipika-Guha1

Actors Theatre of Louisville presents The 42nd Humana Festival of New American Plays, Feb. 28-April 8, 2018, and will include three works by Ma-Yi Writers Lab Members. The Festival premieres works by Leah Nanako Winkler, Susan Soon He Stanton, and Dipika Guha. Ma-Yi offers congratulations and kudos to these ground-breaking playwrights as this event has proven itself to launch the careers of it’s participants. Hansol Jung’s CARDBOARD PIANO, was a standout at the festival the year before. Also, Kimber Lee‘s brownsville song (b-side for tray) premiered in 2014 at the Humana Festival.

This year Dipika Guha was also chosen as a National Residency and Commission Recipient of Playwrights’ Center’s 2017-18 McKnight Fellowship New Core Writers group.


Ma-Yi Lab Member

Our newest Ma-Yi Writers Lab member David Zheng, is a recipient of the 2018 Van Lier New Voices Fellowship. This year long residency is designed to support extraordinary playwrights of color under the age of 30, in order to help address the lack of inclusion of early career playwrights of color in the theater field and includes a cash award of $15,000, plus up to $3,000 in health insurance reimbursement, as well as access to a wide range of The Lark resources, including artistic program participation, office and rehearsal space, and staff support.

David Zheng is named as part of the 2018-19 Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theater along with seven others, out of 485 applicants including Labbie, Diana Oh!

David was awareded membership in  GTG’s SPEAKERS CORNER Named after the corner of London’s Hyde Park where George Bernard Shaw and other political speakers have delivered speeches since 1855. The organization brings together six to ten writers each year who will spend the year exploring a specific Shaw play and writing new work in response to that text.

David Zhang is also awarded a Playwriting Mentorship Residency with Space on Ryder Farms .



Labbie Mia Chung was chosen as one of The Playwrights’ Center 2017-18 Fellows (Jerome Fellows, Many Voices Fellow) receiving an $18,000 award, $2,000 for development of a play.

Nandita Shenoy and Mrinalini Kamath

Nandita Shenoymrinalinikamath

Nandita Shenoy and Mrinalini Kamath  participated in 1-week teaching residencies, 2-week developmental residencies, and/or month-long writing residencies at the Mellon Funded  the Ma-Yi Writers Lab/ Creative Fellowships Initiative, an interdisciplinary pilot project at the University of Washington exploring the nature of creative research. In 2017, UW hosted Labbies Kyoung Park and Deepa Purohit for teaching residencies and Dustin Chinn for a one-month writing  and research residency.


lauren-headshot-3Don NguyenDustin Chinn

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) inaugural New Strands Residency program began this year with three playwrights/plays from Ma-Yi Theater Company including  The Great Leap by Lauren Yee, The Man from Saigon by Don Nguyen, and Snowflakes, or Rare White People by Dustin Chinn giving emerging and established American playwrights the opportunity to create and develop new works in residence at A.C.T.’s state-of-the-art Strand Theater in San Francisco.

The Playwrights Realm awarded Labbie Don Nguyen a place in its 2017-18 new residency series, and will present his world premiere of his play Hello, From The Children of Planet Earth this February.

Dustin Chinn received a summer residency with The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work, Over an intense four-week period, residents share ideas, break bread, and create new plays.



The Lark and Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation awarded plays and playwrights selected for the pilot round of the Lark Venturous Playwright Fellowship program, including (Teenage Dick) Ma-Yi Resident Playwright and Writers Lab Co-director, Mike Lew; and (Today is My Birthday)  Susan Soon He Stanton providing concurrent residencies and advocating for their production by partner theaters and an award of $50,000 over two years, as well as a production subsidy grant of up to $50,000 to support a production of the play at a theater of the playwright’s choosing.

Susan Soon He Stanton was also one of five New York-based playwrights have been chosen as this year’s Rita Goldberg Playwrights’ Workshop Fellows by the Lark Theater Company. In addition, Susan was the 2017 winner of the eighth annual prize from Leah Ryan’s Fund for Emerging Women Writers for her play WE, THE INVISIBLES .

Diana Oh and Mashuq Mushtaq Deen

diana-oh-headshotMashuk Mushtaq Deen

In August 2017, Writer’s Lab Members Diana Oh and Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, via Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, were awarded The Tow Foundation 2017-2018 Tow Playwrights-in-Residence award which included a $75,000 grant to support the playwrights. The residency program includes a full-time salary for each playwright and funds to support their integration into the theater’s day-to-day operations, as well as a guaranteed full production of their play.

Diana’s {my lingerie play} 2017: 10 underground performance installations in lingerie was supported by the Venturous Theater Fund of Tides Foundation for 2017 and was “staged in an effort to provide a saner, safer, more courageous world for women, trans, queer, and non-binary humans to live in”

Deen also received a PAGE 73 Summer residency in 2017, and used his residency to collaborate on The Betterment Society with director Jessi Hill and composer Nell Shaw Cohen. Labbie, Mia Chung also was awarded a residency, used  hers to collaborate with director Ken Rus Schmoll on Catch As Catch Can.

Diana Oh is part of the 2018-19 Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theater along with seven others, out of 485 applicants!



Labbie Clarence Coo is one of ten recipients of the 2017 Whiting Awards and a whopping $50,000 cash prize. The Whiting Awards annually identify “exceptional new writers who have yet to make their mark in the literary culture” and aim to provide them with funds to afford “a first opportunity to devote themselves fully to writing.


Lab Member, Qui Nguyen and  American Conservatory Theater(A.C.T.) are recipients of NEA’s Art Works grant of $50,000 to  support the upcoming Bay Area premiere of Vietgone, playing at Strand Theater ( February 21-April 22, 2018.


Nine Ma-Yi Writer’s Lab Member’s new plays received a record 11 Kilroys this year. Each year, The Kilroys compiles a list of the most recommended un- and underproduced new plays by female and trans authors of color:

Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee

The Great Leap by Lauren Yee

Yoga Play by Dipika Guha

Unreliable by Dipika Guha

We, the Invisibles by Susan Soon He Stanton

Queen by Madhuri Shekar

The Opportunities of Extinction by Sam Chans

Two Mile Hollow by Leah Nanako Winkler

To the Yellow House by Kimber Lee

Hatefuck by Rehana Lew Mirza

Nomad Motel by Carla Ching

KILROYS – Honorable Mentions:

The Other Instinct by Sam Chanse

The Shaking Earth by Mashuq Mushtag Deen

A People’s Guide to History In the Time of Here and Now by Rehana Lew Mirza

A Valentine by Deepa Purohit

Thirty-Six by Leah Nanako Winkler

A Deal by Zhu Yi


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