MA-YI WRITERS LAB
Founded in 2004 by Sung Rno in connection with the TCG/NEA residency program, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. Currently led by Co-Directors Michael Lew and A. Rey Pamatmat, the Lab is a professional peer-based workshop in permanent residence with the OBIE and Drama Desk Award-winning Ma-Yi Theater Company, designed to nurture and showcase Asian-American playwrights in New York City.
Ma-Yi is deeply committed to its Lab artists. The Lab is a community resource, braintrust, and place of artistic growth for its members. In many cases the Lab is our writers’ primary outlet — their home — the place where they first share a draft of a new play (regardless of whether the play has outside support), and the place where they continue refining work until it’s production-ready. The Lab has also become Ma-Yi’s primary resource for production material, and in many cases work that begins in the Lab has gone on to production within Ma-Yi as well as at major theaters in NYC and nationally.
New Playwright Membership application ended June 1, 2018 and will reopen in 2020.
WRITERS LAB PRODUCTIONS & HONORS
- NEWS: AWARDS, HONORS & RESIDENCIES: 2017-2018 A BANNER SEASON FOR THE LABBIES
- NEWS: Lab Members Make their mark in 2017-2018 Season
- WRITERS LAB MEMBER PLAYS FEB/MAR 2018 —NATIONWIDE
- WRITERS LAB MEMBER PLAYS IN NYC FEB 2018
- JASON KIM’S KPOP WITH ARS NOVA AND WOODSHED COLLECTIVE WINTER 2017
- MICHI BARALL’S PEER GYNT AND THE NORWEGIAN HAPA BAND ROCKS ON THRU 2/11
A NATIONAL PRESENCE
Rehana Lew Mirza
The Ma-Yi Lab has been an integral part of my growth as a writer. The fact that Ma-Yi is so open to risk-taking is something that I learned is a rarity, but something that is so urgently needed in theater today. As I developed my work through the Lab, I also developed something that is equally important — a community of peers and a network within the Asian American theatre world. My work is inspired by the incredibly talented yet under-utilized Asian American actors that Ma-Yi draws in. There is no other place like Ma-Yi. Our fellow writers are making huge waves in the national theater world. And we hope to continue to do so. Because something magical happens in that office as we gather round. We have a community. We have a home. And we have the strength from one another to continue making an impact on the world.
Lately the work that has come out of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab has exploded on the national scene – from awards for our writers to productions across the country. This isn’t just kismet; it’s the product of several years of hard effort. What makes the Lab so special – other than being the largest collective of Asian-American playwrights in the country – is that the Lab offers two things that most other theaters don’t: sustained multiyear support and a concrete pathway between development and production. Ma-Yi gave me a place to begin my work and keep crafting it. Ma-Yi gave me my very first off-Broadway production, which was an absolutely invaluable milestone as an emerging writer. Ma-Yi gave me a rich community of artists to work with and grow with. The Ma-Yi Writers Lab took me in as a fledgling, unproduced writer and gave me a family in every sense of the word.
The Ma-Yi Writers Lab is unlike any organization in the world, and has been of crucial and unique importance to my life and my work. Because it is truly artist-driven group, it provides a safe, commercial-free forum for writers to imagine, experiment, generate and hone their work on their own terms and on their own time. What’s even more unique about the Lab is that, as an organization specifically dedicated to the work of Asian American playwrights, it doesn’t only provide process and/or product – it represents a movement. In the spirit of Ma-Yi’s mission to challenge popular prescriptions of what Asian American theater can (or should) be, the Lab’s greatest strength lies in its focus on empowering individual artists to explore their personal idiosyncratic voice, within a group setting. Given the dismaying statistics with respect to opportunities for Asian American artists in the maintstream American theater, the Lab’s focus – to provide time, space and holistic support to the individually-tailored needs of each member – is crucial. The explosive recent success of plays and writers cultivated through the Lab in recent years is evidence of its effectiveness, its importance, and its relevance to Asian American communities and beyond.
The development of works of Mike Lew and Rehana Mirza as our National Playwrights in Residence are made possible with the support of the Mellon Foundation’s National Playwright Residency Program administered in partnership with HowlRound.