A Reading during the Iowa New Play Festival

Playwrights Workshop Bios

Iowa Playwrights

MFA ’13

Basil's plays have been developed by Wordbridge, Courier 12 Collective in Chicago and Stageworks in Florida. He is a recipient of the Lee Blessing Scholarship, the Norman Felton Scholarship and an Arts Meets Activism grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Basil has taught playwriting to elementary, high school and college students in Florida, Kentucky and Iowa.  He started a playwrights group for queer youth in Louisville called Out On The Edge. He was a literary intern at New Dramatists in Fall 2011. His short plays have twice been finalists for the Heideman Award and Dancing the Dark was produced by Actors Theatre in their 24-hour play festival. Basil’s full-length play Helen of Gibsonton was a finalist for the Humana Festival in 2010. His work has been published by Dramatic Publishing and included in Xlibria’s Becoming: Young Ideas on Gender and Identity. In the spring of 2012, his full-length Sidewinders had a second-stage production at the University of Iowa. Also in the spring of 2012, Orange Julius received a reading in About Face Theatre’s XYZ Festival in Chicago and a reading at New York Theatre Workshop directed by Daniella Topol.


MFA '13

Deborah's full-length play Jenga opened in February 2012 at UI.  Her play Painted Desert was presented in both Aspen and New York (at the Wild Project) through Theater Master’s National MFA Playwrights Festival. It was a finalist for the Humana Festival’s Heideman Award. Her one-act play Spinal Alignment was produced in the fall 2011 through Estrogenius Playwrights Festival (at Manhattan Theater Source, NYC). Deborah was a PlayLabs Playwright at the 2011 Great Plains Theatre Conference with her full length play Portmanteaux, which was also runner up for Stony Brook University’s 2011 John Gassner Playwriting Award. Her ten-minute play The Black Angel’s Hand was workshopped at the 2012 Mid-American Theater Conference’s playwriting symposium; and her play Signs was presented in Seattle, venues in England and in NYC through Northwest Playwrights Alliance and Western Washington University’s British Art’s Tour. Deborah’s plays have been developed through WordBRIDGE, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Sanctuary Playwrights Theater, the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival and produced through the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, colleges across the United States and in Canada, and off-Broadway through the Young Playwrights Festival XXIV.


Iowa Playwrights, Past

MFA '07

The decision to apply to Iowa was probably one of the most important professional decisions I ever made.  Not only did it give me 3 years to find my voice as a writer, but through a nearly constant stream of guest artists I was able to get a sense of how someone gets their plays out into the American theater.  I graduated almost 5 years ago and I still have relationships with some of the artists I met while in Iowa.

Samuel’s recent plays include A Bright New Boise (2011 OBIE award for playwriting, 2011 Drama Desk Nomination for Best Play; original production by Partial Comfort Productions in NYC, recent production at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company), The Whale (upcoming production at Denver Center in Winter 2012), A Permanent Image (commissioned and produced by Boise Contemporary Theater in Fall 2011), Jack's Precious Moment (Page 73 Productions at 59E59), Five Genocides (Clubbed Thumb at the Ohio Theater), Norway (Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis; Boise Contemporary Theater), I Am Montana (Arcola Theatre, London; Mortar Theater, Chicago).  He has active commissions from MTC/Sloan, Seattle Rep, and South Coast Rep. His plays have been developed at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, PlayPenn, Ojai Playwrights Conference, the Lark Playwrights Workshop, Juilliard, LAByrinth, Rattlestick, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, 24Seven Lab and elsewhere. Internationally, his work has been translated into Spanish and presented in Mexico City and Monterrey, and he has worked in the West Bank with Ashtar Theatre of Ramallah and Ayyam al-Masrah of Hebron. At Ashtar, he co-wrote The Era of Whales, which was performed in Ramallah and Istanbul. Awards: 2011 Sky Cooper Prize, 2008-2009 PONY Fellowship from the Lark, two Lincoln Center Le Compte du Nuoy Awards, others. He is a member of Partial Comfort Productions and is an alumnus of Ars Nova’s Playgroup. He has taught at Fordham University, Rutgers University, Marymount Manhattan College and The University of Iowa. A native of northern Idaho, Sam lives in New York City. He holds degrees in playwriting from NYU, The Iowa Playwrights Workshop and Juilliard.


MFA ‘11

The Playwrights Workshop and the Theatre Department is where I grew from exploring playwriting to truly practicing it.  The multiple production opportunities that the Department provided through the Iowa New Play Festival and the Gallery Series gave me invaluable experience testing out my scripts on their feet, and learning to work openly and collaboratively with directors, actors, and designers, who all give invaluable dramaturgical insights.  I also learned how truly critical stage managers are to a play's success, and I now view them as major deities in my dramatic pantheon.  The UI Theatre Department provides endless opportunities to its students, be it in the form of teaching opportunities, bringing acclaimed theatre artists to Iowa, exposing us to national opportunities, and providing us resources to take advantage of such opportunities.  My reading in New York my third year, my apprenticeship with the Playwrights Center, and in fact my current job were all results of my attending Iowa, to say nothing of the enduring relationships I formed with visiting instructors and, most importantly, peers.

The day after graduation, Andrew Saito flew to San Francisco to develop his play Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night at the Cutting Ball Theatre's Risk Is This... Festival.  He has also been invited to be a member of the Playwrights' Foundation's Resident Playwright Initiative, and a Core Apprentice at the Playwrights Center of Minneapolis, where his play The Patron Saint of Monsters will have a reading in June 2012.  He is currently a Fellow in the Arts & Culture grant making program at The San Francisco Foundation.  While at the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, he authored 7 full-length plays, 2 feature-length screenplays, and various short pieces. He also taught playwriting in rural Mayan radio stations in Guatemala with the NGO Cultural Survival, with the support of a Kenneth J. Cmiel Internship from the UI Center for Human Rights.  Andrew work has been developed by the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Asian American Theatre Company, and Mixed Phoenix Theatre in New York, and presented at the Magic Theatre, Intersection for the Arts, Montalvo Arts Center, and numerous other venues.  He has been finalist for New Dramatists’ Princess Grace Playwriting Award, a Jerome Fellowship, and twice an alternate for a Fulbright Fellowship in Creative Writing.  Andrew holds a BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.


MFA '11

Going to Iowa for my MFA in playwriting was the best decision I could have made. Iowa is a unique program in several ways: the number of production opportunities it offers students, the close interaction with MFA actors, directors, designers, and stage managers, and the workshops by visiting playwrights in residence. I can't imagine a more generous gift of time, resources, and support in such a close and nurturing community. The program works best for students who come in with a strong idea of what they want to explore and how they want to challenge themselves. Iowa is not an environment where you're told what to do or how to do it. Rather, it offers the time to write, the chance to ask for help to bring your ideas to fruition, and the tools to continue developing and strengthening your individual voice.

Since graduation, Jen moved to New York where her play Crane Story opened off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre with The Playwrights Realm. She is a member of the playwrights collective Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theatre, and an Affiliated Artist with New Georges, i.d.Theater Co, and The Playwrights Realm. She received a commission from InterAct Theatre and the National New Play Network in 2011, and will undertake a 2012 residency at the MacDowell Colony to complete the commission. While at Iowa, her one-act The Education of Macoloco  won the 2009 Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Play Festival and was published by Samuel French. She was a 2009 playwright in residence at the Hedgebrook International Women’s Writers Residency, the recipient of the 2010 Kate Neal Kinley Fellowship and the Marcus Bach Fellowship, and was a 2011 Core Apprentice at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. Her plays were produced for 3 consecutive years in the Iowa New Play Festival. She received her BA from Brown University. She is a proud member of Cut The Rhino, a collective formed by the graduate playwright/dramaturg class of 2011.


More Information

Art Borreca
Head of Iowa’s Playwrights Workshop
Department of Theatre Arts
The University of Iowa
107 Theatre Building
Iowa City, IA 52242-1705