2008/2009 L.A. Writers' Workshop

The 2008/2009 Writers' Workshop participants include Mickey Birnbaum, Joseph Fisher, Michael John Garcés, Donald Jolly, Evangeline Ordaz, Matt Pelfrey, and Adriana Sevahn Nichols.

Mickey Birnbaum

Mickey Birnbaum's credits include Big Death & Little Death, Woolly Mammoth, Washington D.C.(2005), produced subsequently at the Road Theatre with Larry Biederman directing; PEN USA Literary Awards Finalist. Bleed Rail, The Theatre@Boston Court (2007); Garland Award for Playwriting. Backyard, Echo Theater (2014), Sage Award, PEN USA Literary Awards Finalist. Developed screenplays for Universal, Paramount, Columbia/Sony, Interscope, Warner Brothers, and Appian Way Productions. Collaborated with director Steven Shainberg on the screenplay for The Big Shoe, and the adaptation of John Irving’s novel The Fourth Hand. MFA, University of Riverside, Palm Desert. Mickey teaches screenwriting at Santa Monica College, and playwriting and screenwriting at the University of Riverside Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts.

Joseph Fisher

In 2004, Joseph finished his fourth and final year as playwright-in-residence at Stark Raving Theatre where they produced World premieres of his plays Prometheus Bound, Tundra, Cupid & Psyche, and Faust. Us. In May of 2004, Joseph received productions of his plays The New House at Artists Repertory Theatre and Thunderbird at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York. In January 2006, Joseph returned to Artists Repertory Theatre where they produced his adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull. Joseph’s plays have also appeared at Kitchen Dog Theater, Portland Center Stage, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Center Theatre Group. Joseph is a recipient of the Playwrights First Award, the Charlotte Woolard Award, a 2002 grant recipient from the Kennedy Center’s Fund for New American Plays, and has been a resident playwright at New Dramatists in New York since 2002. In addition to playwriting, Joe has also worked as a screenwriter on many feature films including Beverly Hills Chihuahua, College Road Trip, Enchanted, Underdog, The Game Plan, and Race to Witch Mountain. This sent Joseph running back to the theatre. In 2010 Joseph's play A Wolf Inside the Fence was produced by Open Fist as part of their summer festival and nominated for best new play by the L.A. Weekly awards, and then in January 2012, Joseph returned once again to Artists Repertory Theatre where they produced the World premiere of his play (I am Still) The Duchess of Malfi. Joseph currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

Michael John Garcés

Michael John Garcés is a playwright and director, and has been the artistic director of Cornerstone Theatre Company since 2006. Plays he has written for Cornerstone include Magic Fruit, Consequence, Los Illegals, and The Forked Path, a collaboration with Stut Theatre and the Van der Hoeven Kliniek in the Netherlands, which was performed at the Net Even Anders Festival in Utrecht and The International Community Arts Festival in Rotterdam. Los Illegals was also produced by Teatro Bravo in Phoenix. His full-length plays include south (Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha), THE WEB (needtheatre), points of departure and customs (INTAR Hispanic American Arts Center) and Acts of Mercy (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); as well as a solo performance, agua ardiente, which ran Off-Broadway at The American Place Theatre as part of "Dreaming in Cuban"; and one-acts include americanas (Mixed Blood Theatre and MACLA—"DJ Latinidad's Latino Dance Party"), A Parable (Great Plains Theatre Conference), hymn in three parts (Chalk Rep), tostitos (EST Marathon of One-Act Plays), on edge and the ride (Humana Festival), audiovideo (The Directors Project) and sandlot ball (Mile Square). He collaborated with composer Alexandra Vrebalov on the oratorio Stations, which received its premiere at the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra and was also performed at the NOMUS Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia. He has directed plays at Cornerstone and at theatres across the countries by a wide range of writers, including Larissa FastHorse, Alison Carey, Juliette Carrillo, Lisa Loomer, Naomi Iizuka, Tom Jacobson, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Aaron Davidman, Page Leong, Aaron Posner, Kia Corthron, Martín Zimmerman, Chad Beckim, Carlos Murillo, and many others.

Donald Jolly

Donald Jolly, Jr. is originally from inner city D.C. In 2011, Playwrights' Arena and Latino Theatre Company produced the World premiere of Jolly's historical drama bonded at The Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC). That critically acclaimed production was directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, and was subsequently nominated for a 2011 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Playwriting and a 2012 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding LA Theater. Donald is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Inc, an Associate Artist with Playwrights’ Arena, and an alumnus of Center Theatre Groups’s Writers' Workshop. A first-generation college graduate, Donald holds an A.B. from Dartmouth College, and an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from the University of Southern California—School of Dramatic Arts. JollyDrama.com

Evangeline Ordaz

Evangeline Ordaz was born in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles to a Mexican immigrant father, and Mexican-American mother. Evangeline grew up in Los Angeles, but has also lived in South East Asia and Mexico. Her experience growing up in a low income Latino neighborhood instilled in Ordaz a passion for social justice prompting her to earn a law degree from U.C. Berkeley and practice public interest law before becoming a writer. Writing and Performance Credits: In 2012, Center Theater Group commissioned Evangeline to write a play about Los Angeles. Center Theatre Group presented a public reading of the resulting play entitled This Land in February 2014. This reading was oversold and the audience of 170 gave the play a standing ovation. Her play Visitors' Guide to Arivaca was featured at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts' New Play Summit and was the subject of a December 2006 cover story in American Theater magazine. Borderlands commissioned Visitors' Guide, which also saw production by the Company of Angels Theater in Los Angeles and Teatro Vision in San Jose. Company of Angels also produced Bordering on Love, which Ordaz wrote while a member of the Center Theater Group’s invitational playwrights’ workshop. Evangeline has also written for the California Youth Theater and the Cornerstone Theater where she shared an Ovation nomination for Best Play. Evangeline is also a film and television writer. She is currently a writer on the Netflix drama Seven Seconds and the BET drama In Contempt. She recently completed a film about the underground music scene in East L.A. for Odd Lot Entertainment (Draft Day, Rosewater). Her television credits include head writer and producer of East Los High's first season on Hulu and the ABC drama Eyes. The success of East Los High's first season led NPR’s All Things Considered to profile Evangeline in October 2013, highlighting her ability to combine her commitment to social justice with her work as a writer and explored how her native East L.A. has inspired her writing. Evangeline started in television as a Disney/ABC Television Writing Fellow. Attorney Experience: Before deciding to write full time Evangeline was an attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles where she provided free legal services to low-income clients in Pico-Union and East L.A. She has done legal work in the areas of indigent criminal appeals, immigration, fair housing, domestic violence, civil rights, and slum litigation. Evangeline also worked as an attorney for the Humanitarian Law Project, documenting human rights abuses by paramilitary groups in the aftermath Zapatista rebel uprising in Chiapas, Mexico.

Matt Pelfrey

Matt Pelfrey is a film, theatre, and television writer. He worked as a staff writer on the MTV drama Skins and wrote, produced, and directed webisodes and content for the Skins/MTV website. His screenplay Survivalism was included on the 2011 Blood List, an industry-generated list of the favorite unproduced horror and thriller scripts in Hollywood. He is a Co-Artistic Director of Furious Theatre Company. His plays have been produced around the country and overseas to critical acclaim and include Cockroach Nation, Terminus Americana, An Impending Rupture of the Belly, Pure Shock Value, Freak Storm, and the stage adaption of In the Heat of the Night, The Pilo Family Circus, Winkie, and The Basketball Diaries. His plays are available from Original Works Publishing, Broadway Play Publishing, and Samuel French. He is the winner of the Actor’s Theater of Louisville’s Heidman Award, a Backstage Garland Award for playwriting, and was nominated for an LA Weekly playwriting award and a Los Angeles Ovation award. He received his BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State and his Master in Fine Arts in Playwriting from UCLA. He teaches undergraduate playwriting at UCLA.

Adriana Sevahn Nichols

Adriana Sevahn Nichols is an award-winning actress and playwright. Her tour de force solo performance in Taking Flight, has thrilled audiences across the country since opening in Los Angeles in 2006 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Hailed as a, "celebration of life," and "one of the 10 best plays of the year," Taking Flight has been awarded a San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award, a Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival Award, and the audio CD, produced by LA Theatre Works, for the Public Radio series, "The Play's The Thing," was a finalist for a 2008 Audie Award. It continues to play yearly during the 9/11 anniversary. As a playwright, Adriana has created, developed, and performed her work at the Sundance Theater Lab, South Coast Repertory, Center Theatre Group, Goodman Theatre, LA Theatre Works, Stages Theatre, The Fountain Theatre, INTAR, Rio Hondo College, Dixon Place NY, and The Lark. Her work has been published by Samuel French, Northwestern Press, Smith & Kraus, and Routledge Press. She is the recipient of the very first Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award, which gifted her with a generous commission, to research and write a new play, inspired by her Armenian grandparent's survival of the Genocide in 1915. The play, Night Over Erzinga, had critically acclaimed runs at Silk Road Rising (Chicago), and Golden Thread Productions (San Francisco), and a BareBones at the Lark Play Development Center (New York). Night Over Erzinga, has also been translated into Armenian and premiered in Yerevan, in April 2015, at Yerevan State Youth Theatre, in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. One of Adriana's biggest passions is bringing theatre and young people together to give them the opportunity to unleash and express their full creative potential. For the past three years, she has been a professor at UCLA, co-leading with, H. Richard Greene, and Jean Luis Rodrigue, the US Performing Arts Summer Acting Conservatory, where she has also directed. She has also taught workshops nationally and internationally at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, ORRAN center for at risk youth in Yerevan, Armenia, CREATE NOW!, CalArts, TEADA, and UC Santa Barbara.