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The PlayGround PlayGroup is a year-long, collaborative workshop culminating in the PlayGround Festival, enforcing Fresh Ground Pepper’s mission to prompt and provoke the artist to make art. It is a place where writers and creators of varying mediums convene to convert their pages, projects, and ideas into fresh new works. We are so excited to introduce you to this year’s PlayGroup. We hope you follow their projects, and come check ’em out in December!


andewbutlerpicANDREW R. BUTLER is a composer, writer and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. He was in residence at Ars Nova as a member of the 2014/15 Uncharted music/theater writers’ group with Andrew Farmer developing their storytelling folk-musical Finn the Fearless. Finn also received development residencies at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Theatre Aspen and The Polyphone Festival at University of the Arts. Other collaborations with Farmer include: BLESSING a new musical commissioned by the Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU; and a musical adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s children’s novel The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, commissioned by TheaterWorksUSA. As recipient of the 2014 Boris Sagal Fellowship at the Williamstown Theater Festival, Andrew wrote music and lyrics for The Dixon Family Album, book by Anna Kerrigan. His science-fiction folk-musician Rags Parkland has performed at Ars Nova and JACK. Andrew is co-founder of experimental theater company harunalee, currently in residence at Brooklyn Arts Exchange developing Dog Gone Day, and he writes and performs with the musical-sketch comedy group Political Subversities. Andrew holds a BFA in Drama from NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing.

In collaboration with…

jordan fein

JORDAN FEIN is a Brooklyn based theatre and opera director. Directing credits include Erin Markey’s A Ride On the Irish Cream (Abrons Arts Center), War Lesbian (HarunaLee/Dixon Place),The Dixon Family Album (Williamstown Theatre Festival: Boris Sagal Fellow 2014), Le Nozze di Figaro, The Rake’s Progress, L’Elisir D”Amore (Curtis Opera Theatre), Dialogues of the Carmelites (Opera Philadelphia), Rags Parkland (Ars Nova Ant Fest/Jack), Edibles Inc. (Incubator Arts Project). Jordan was the Associate Director on Rodger and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Bard Summerscape, dir. Daniel Fish) and The Elephant Man (Broadway and The West End). He currently teaches at New York University, Playwrights Horizons Theater School.

cat crowleyCAT CROWLEY is a New York City-based playwright and performer by way of sunny San Diego. As a writer, she is interested in exploring gender roles and the formation of identity, as well as social and environmental justice. Utilizing an absurd, often comedic style, Cat seeks to bend (sometimes break completely) familiar genres, periods, and tropes in order to express a more complex reality living underneath. Her work has been performed/developed at Dixon Place, #serials@TheFlea, The Duplex, The Tank, Judson Church, The Red Room, BookCourt as part of The Eagle and the Wren Reading Series, The 24 Hour Plays: Nationals, Primary Stages/ESPA, Irondale Arts Ensemble, The Breadbox Theatre Co. (California), The Kraine Theater, Bowery Arts and Science, Roulette, Manhattan Repertory Theater, and The Shelterbelt Theater (Nebraska). Her play House of Tomorrow was a semifinalist for the 2015 PlayPenn Playwrights Conference. BFA: Tisch Drama, NYU

nichi douglas

NICHI DOUGLAS is a writer, actor, dancer/choreographer and art educator. Some of her favorite performances have occurred at Joe’s Pub, The Bushwick Starr, HERE, and La Mama. She is currently Assistant Choreographing the City Center Encores Festival presentation of Elizabeth Swados’ Tony Award nominated musical Runaways. She and the cast of Political Subversities will make a triumphant return to the stage on Friday night in June and July at The PIT. She is the founder of BK Play! – an innovative art company for kids. She operates with a tremendous amount of gratitude for every day and every opportunity. Her name is pronounced like “Nicky”. BFA, NYU: Tisch; MFA, The New School.

ryan fogarty

RYAN FOGARTY is the recent recipient of the Robert Chesley Award for Drama. His plays include Beating Off, The Obligation (Magic Time! at Judson), Goldfish Love (Bookshop Workshops selection; semifinalist, Princess Grace Award), and Skin Like Milk (semifinalist, CLMP). His plays have been performed/developed at Second Stage, Labyrinth, The Flea, The Lark, The Tank, DUMBO Arts Festival, and Live-Source. He holds commissions from EST/Sloan and NCTC in San Francisco. He will be a playwright-in-residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico this summer. BFA NYU Tisch.

tori keenan-zelt

TORI KEENAN-ZELT writes curiosity-driven plays that chart emotional territory through impossible theatrical worlds. Many of them decide to be comedies. Her work has been developed or presented at FGP, Lark, The O’Neill, The Actors’ Studio, #serials@theflea, Yale Cabaret, Nashville Rep, High Desert, WTF, Pittsburgh Fringe, Cold Basement, and beside unsuspecting Chipotle patrons. Recently, she was an Ingram New Works Playwright, PWC Core Apprentice, Jerome Finalist, Princess Grace Finalist, PoNY Nominee, Kilroys Nominee, and some other things. She is a member of Bastard Playground, Part-Time Box, Propulsion Lab, the Actors Studio PDU, & DG. Originally and proudly from Pittsburgh, she splits time between NYC and a cat who lives in Connecticut. BA, Harvard. MFA, NYU Tisch Asia.

In collaboration with…

ilana becker

ILANA BECKER has developed and directed new work at New York Theatre Workshop, Ars Nova, Dixon Place, The Civilians, The Flea, The Lark, 54 Below, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, Pittsburgh Fringe, FringeNYC, Columbia University’s MFA Playwriting program, NYU’s MFA Dramatic Writing program, Hunter College, Disney/ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, Samuel French Festival, and FullStop Collective, among others. She produced and directed an environmental staging of Waiting for Lefty during the 2011 public employee protests; she co-produced Beer Plays, an evening of short plays paired with craft beers, and Around the Block, an evening of investigative and community-driven original pieces about and performed in five NYC neighborhoods; and she continues to develop Argument Sessions, an ongoing series of immersive events taken from SCOTUS transcripts and woven with collaboratively developed original material. Ilana is a member of The Civilians’ R&D Group, DirectorsLabChicago, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Bastard Playground, and was a Playwrights Horizons Robert Moss Directing Resident.

gordon leary

GORDON LEARY is a Cleveland-born, Brooklyn-based bookwriter and lyricist. Musicals include PREGNANCY PACT (2012 Weston Playhouse premiere; 2011 NAMT Festival; 2011 Yale Institute for Music Theatre), I LOVE YOU, ANITA BRYANT (2014 Ars Nova OutLoud Reading Series; 2015 Polyphone Festival, University of the Arts), CHEER WARS (2015 York Theatre Company; 2009 Richard Rodgers Award) and ACROSS THE RIVER (2009 Daegu International Musical Festival; 2013 Seoul Musical Festival.) Current Civilians’ R&D Group participant, former Ars Nova Uncharted writer and Dramatists Guild Fellow. Vassar College, NYU/Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

In collaboration with…

julia meinwaldJULIA MEINWALD‘s musicals with collaborator Gordon Leary include Pregnancy Pact (2012 premiere production at the Weston Playhouse, 2011 NAMT conference and Yale Institute for Musical Theatre selection) and I Love You, Anita Bryant (2015 workshop production at Philadelphia’s UARTS, 2014 OutLoud reading with Ars Nova). They are currently developing a show called Reb + VoDKa + Me as part of the Civilians’ R&D group. Julia was a participant in the New Dramatists Composer Librettist Development Program, a Dramatists Guild fellow, a resident artist with American Lyric Theatre, and an Uncharted writer at Ars Nova. She holds a BA in Music from Yale University and an MFA from NYU’s GMTWP.

This year FGP took applications for directors and is thrilled to welcome these two into the PlayGround PlayGroup!
We are excited to have their dramaturgical minds and directorial skills help us get these new projects off the ground!

nikki diloreto

NIKKI DILORETO is a New York based director and developer of adventurous new plays. Recent projects include Anniversary (Williamstown Theatre Festival), All Hallow’s Eve At the Amarillo Jehovah’s Witness Weekly Grief Group In the Backroom of the Y Just Off the Feeder (UglyRhino 2015, Two Headed Monster 2016), Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical (5th Floor Theatre Company), and a new web series called The Weekend Detectives. As an assistant director, Nikki has worked with Jo Bonney, Daniella Topol, Garry Hynes, Sheryl Kaller, Carey Perloff, and Simon Phillips, among others. She is a member of the Williamstown Directing Corps, an SDC Observer, and an associate member of SDC. She received her BFA from Boston University.

Kareem Fahmy

KAREEM FAHMY is a Canadian-born director and playwright of Egyptian descent. He recently directed the world premiere of Victor Lesniewski’s Couriers and Contrabands (TBG Theatre) and is directing the world premiere of Sevan K. Greene’s This Time at The Sheen Center in May. He was a 2015 Director-in-Residence at The New Museum with their research project X-ID REP. His play The In-Between was presented by Noor Theatre in 2014. He’s worked extensively in new play development with organizations including New York Theatre Workshop, MCC, Second Stage, Soho Rep, New Dramatists, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Sundance Institute Theatre, Partial Comfort Productions, Noor Theatre, and Berkeley Rep. He is an alumnus of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, the Van Lier Directing Fellowship, and NTYW’s Emerging Artist Fellowship. Kareem has assisted Tony Award-winners Michael Mayer (The Illusion, Signature Theatre) and John Tiffany (Once, NYTW). In Montreal he directed the Canadian premieres of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Venus and Naomi Iizuka’s Language of Angels. Kareem is a proud member of Rising Circle Theater Collective, a founding member of |the claque|, and is an NYTW Usual Suspect. MFA: Columbia.

Previous PlayGroup Members

PlayGround 2009
Down The Toilet by Aaron Schroeder
The Dark Reality of Horace and Millie by Brooke Bundy
The Infinite Bigness of the Universe by Chris Chan
Masters of the Universe by Jais Brohinsky
Prep by Lorelei Ignas
Alligator Summer by Dylan Lamb

PlayGround 2010
Lust Trust by Alexandra Bassett
The Friedman-Vargases by Andrew Farmer and Emma Koenig
What It’s Like When Two Geeks Love Each Other by Jaclyn Backhaus
Treeplay by Alyssa Yackley
Sheeple by Mara Wilson
Hobbes by Matthew Robert Gehring
There Is No Isabelle by Dylan Lamb
Companion Piece by Kevin Armento

PlayGround 2011
Companions by Ali Mendes
Puppetonia by Sarah Todes
Fat Fat Fatty by Alex Kveton
SER by Dylan Lamb
Folk Wandering by Jaclyn Backhaus, Mike Brun,
Blake Allen, and Joel Esher

PlayGround PlayGroup 2012
Kevin Armento
Andrew Farmer
Theresa Giacopasi
Anna Greenfield
Preston Martin and Jaclyn Backhaus
Max Reuben
Evan Watkins

PlayGround PlayGroup 2013
Trevor Bachman
Salty Brine
Max Freedman and Hugh Trimble
Dylan Lamb
Dano Madden
Callan Stout
Emma Tattenbaum-Fine
PlayGround PlayGroup 2014
Taylor Adamson
Mikey Barringer
Amy Virginia Buchanan
Sam Corbin
Noah Mease
Jay Stull
Ellie and Drew Vanderburg
Antu Yacob

PlayGround PlayGroup 2015
Molly Beach Murphy
Julia Izumi
Andrew Scoville
James Monaco
Joe Castle Baker
Chris Tyler
Lindsey Hope Pearlman
Matthew Jellison
Charly Simpson
Jamie Effros
Claire Keichel