Professional Playwright Summer Festival


The Cypress College New Play Festival provides student actors and directors a place to help develop new plays with professional playwrights from Los Angeles. We are celebrating our sixteenth summer season. Our festival won the OC weekly best of 2008:

“Mark Majarian and the rest of this community college’s theater department deserve a chorus of hosannas for launching and growing a new-play festival as strong as any in Southern California. Many of the writers-and several of the plays-have subsequently received full-fledged productions at regional and off-Broadway theaters. They provide encouragement and incentive to playwrights, a strange breed of animal that chooses to work in an artistic field where recognition is hard to come by and financial compensation nearly impossible.”

Notable playwright collaborations have been with Doug Cooney’s Long Story Short which won a design award and was invited as an “Invitational Scene” for the Region VIII, Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Also, Mickey Birnbaum’s “Big Death Little Death” (developed during the 2002 Cypress New Play Festival) which opened the inaugural 2005-06 season of the Wooly Mammoth Theater Company (in Washington D. C.). Mickey’s other play, “Bleed Rail,” (developed during the 2004 Cypress New Play Festival) was performed at the Theater @ Boston Court in Pasadena. Other notable past collaborations were with Cody Henderson whose play, “Cold Tender” won the 2002 OC Weekly award, Annie Weisman’s “Be Aggressive” which was produced at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2001 and Robert Glaudini’s “Poison Tree” which was produced by the Mark Taper Forum in 2001. Michael Golamco’s play “Year Zero” which was included in last summer’s festival went on to premiere at the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago in the fall 2009 and the McGinn/Cazale Theater in NYC in the spring of 2010.

Performances: Thursdays 7 p.m. (July 9, 16, 23, 30, and Aug. 6 @ 7 P.M.) through August 6. There will be a discussion with the writer following each reading.

Admission: $5 (all proceeds support the operating expenses of the festival).

Venue: 3rd Floor, Fine Arts, FA-304 / 9200 Valley View, Cypress 90630

For additional information please contact: Mark Majarian at (714) 484-7205,

Festival Details & Playwright Bios:

“@thespeedofJake” byJennifer Maisel, Thurs. July 9 at 7 p.m. (2 men, 3 women)

Emily, a professor, and Clark, a tech wizard, had that perfect soccer parent life until their 10 year old died in an inexplicable random accident. Three years later, their son gone, their marriage shattered, Emily wants Clark to release her, so she can move on, so he can move on. But Clark has another plan. He thinks he can use technology to contact Jake – wherever it is death has taken him. A meditation on love, connection and disconnection in this increasingly distant time, @thespeedofJake contemplates the universal desire to cheat death against the backdrop of our rapidly evolving technological world.

Jennifer Maisel (Playwright)

Jennifer Maisel’s Pen West Literary Award finalist There or Here was workshopped at PlayPenn before its critically acclaimed run at New York’s Hypothetical Theatre and is in talks for a London premiere. Her The Last Seder premiered Off-Broadway after productions in Chicago, D.C. and LA. Plays include Goody Fucking Two Shoes (ATL’s Humana Festival), birds (Rorschach Theatre), Eden (Theatre of NOTE, Original Works Publishing) and Match (UArts New Play Festival). Awards: Kennedy Center’s Fund for New American Plays Award, Charlotte Woolard and Roger L. Stevens awards; SCR’s California Playwrights Competition; two time PEN West Literary Award finalist; five time Heideman Award finalist, STAGES International finalist. Her #Sandy ran in Moving Arts’ The Car Plays at the Segerstrom Performing Arts Center and LiveGirls! in Seattle.   She was commissioned by Chalk Rep for her If You Lived Here I Would Be Home By Now for their site-specific Flash Festival in the fall of 2014. She received an Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan foundation commission for Out of Orbit, developed at the Sundance Theatre Lab, the Gulfshore New Play Festival, the Berkshire Playwrights Lab and Cal Tech; Out of Orbit recently won the Stanley Award for Drama. Her newest play, @thespeedofJake, was Kilroy nominated. She also writes for film and television; her screenplay, Prodigal Son, went into production in November of 2014. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Ensemble Studio Theatre – LA Project, DogEar Playwrights Collective, Playwrights Union and the WGA.

“Vilelet” by Alex Alfaro, Thurs. July 16 at 7 p.m. (3 women, 5 men)

Is a moving and dramatic tale about a family caught in the generational cycle of poverty in the Pico/Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. How do you overcome your challenges, your demons? Where do you start, especially when all options that would preserve your dignity seem closed to you?

Alex Alfaro (Playwright)

Alex “Alpharaoh” Alfaro is an Actor, Writer, Director, Producer, and accomplished Spoken Word Artist in the L.A Poetry Scene. Alex is a proud member of The Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG/AFTRA). A Los Angeles native, he is a founding member of Urban Theatre Movement, and is the creative mind behind SP!T Spoken Word Theatre: A show he originally developed at UTM, his artistic home.

As a playwright, Alpharaoh has studied with playwright Seth Ez-zvi Rosenfeld, award winning playwright Zakiyyah Alexander, award winning playwright Margaret Medina, and is a proud Affiliate member of The Antaeus Co. where he is part of the Antaeus Playwrights Lab. Alpharaoh’s latest one act “Why Won’t You Remember?” was born from Seth Rosenfeld’s writing workshop and was stage-read in the Spring of 2014 as part of Urban Theatre Movement’s “The Projects” reading series. His full-length play “Vilelet” was work-shopped the summer of 2014 at Vassar and New York Stage & Film Powerhouse Theater Festival at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. That fall, “Why Won’t You Remember?” was produced as part of UTM’s 2014 Urban Legends One Act Festival.

As a Producer, Alpharaoh has also served as Governing Board Member for UTM for the 2014 season. Alpharaoh is currently Producing Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Our Lady of 121st Street at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank in association with Zubberdust Players and Victory Bare Bones. He is also producing and bringing 2013’s Smash Hit, “Don’t Talk About It, SP!T About It” To the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2015, this summer.

“Monkey Love” by Madhuri Shekar, Thurs. July 23 at 7 p.m. ( 2 women, 2 men)

Reflections on her play: Sometimes I fancy myself an invisible anthropologist.

I was born in San Jose, CA, and moved to Chennai, India when I was nine. I lived in India till I was 20, and currently live in Los Angeles, but even today, I can’t quite figure out what ‘home’ is, exactly.

I grew up in India always feeling a bit like an alien- but an invisible one. I looked like everyone else for the first time in my life, but somehow I couldn’t relate to the people around me. I was a stranger on the inside, and no one could tell.

Here, of course, I’m a minority, but in one of the most diverse cities in the country, a place where most people come to, not leave from. I’m different, but in Los Angeles, that lets me blend in.

And so I observe. Whether in India, hiding behind the way I look, or in LA, just another out-of-towner among many. I’m an invisible anthropologist. Always one step removed.

And so, I write.

Madhuri Shekar (Playwright)

Madhuri Shekar is a playwright baMadhuri-Headshot-largesed in Los Angeles. Her plays include – In Love and Warcraft (Alliance Theatre, No Rules Theatre Company, and others) and A Nice Indian Boy (East West Players, Rasaka Theatre.)

She was the 2013/14 winner of the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award and an alumnus of the 2013/14 Center Theatre Group Writers’ Workshop. She has been a finalist for the Princess Grace Award for Playwriting, and the Many Voices Fellowship at the Playwrights Center. Her plays have been showcased or developed at the Kennedy Center, the Alliance Theatre, the Old Globe, Center Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizons and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She received her MFA in Dramatic Writing from USC.

She is an artistic producer of the L.A.-based comedic ensemble company Better Than Shakespeare, and is a co-creator of their upcoming web series ‘Titus and Dronicus‘.

Prior to her MFA, Madhuri received an MSc/MA in Global Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and USC. She consults in social media, content creation, and arts marketing.

“Need to Know” by Jonathan Caren, Thurs. July 30 at 7 p.m. (1 woman, 2 men)

Lilly and Steven move into a new apartment and meet their odd new neighbor Mark. Behind closed doors they Google-stalk him and proceed to mock his life… only to realize he can hear everything in the apartment next door. A play about the ways we process information online about one another. Do we need to know everything about our peoples’ lives? Or are there some secrets worth keeping?

Jonathan Caren (Playwright)

Jonathan is an award-winning playwright and TV writer.

His plays include THE RECOMMENDATION (IAMA 2014, The Flea 2013, Old Globe 2012, Craig Noel Award, Best New Play, 2014 Ovation, Best Play, NAACP nomination), NEED TO KNOW (Colt Coeur Play Hotel 2015), THE MORNING THE SUN FELL DOWN (MTC 7@7 2013), LET ME GO (2013 Rattlestick Fest, JPP), CATCH THE FISH (Most Outstanding Play, NY Fringe) and THE VENERABLE RAMAN GUPTA (Flea First Look Series, Sundance Finalist, New Group 2014 New Works Lab) and the forthcoming THE HOUSE THAT JAKE BUILT (IAMA 2015).

His work has been developed at theaters across the country including The Manhattan Theater Club, The Roundabout Underground, Ensemble Studio Theater, The Rattlestick, Williamstown, Ars Nova, The Pasadena Playhouse, The Keen Company, Colt Coeur, Woodshed Ensemble, Berkshire Playwright’s Lab, Rogue Machine, The Elephant as well as developmentally at The Lark, New York Stage and Film, The Jewish Plays Project, Partial Comfort and in The Samuel French OOB Festival and The Old Vic in London.

He is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a Dramatist Guild Fellow, The New York Stage and Film Founder’s Award Winner, a two time recipient of a Fellowship to SPACE @ Ryder Farm, a two-time Lecomte du Nouy award winner and a recipient of the Theater Publicus Prize for Dramatic Fiction. Additionally, he was a finalist for the Laurents/Hatcher Award, a nominee for the Otis Guerney New American Playwright’s Award.

In Television, Jonathan wrote pilots for FOX, CBS and Wind Dancer Productions. He wrote for the C.W’s MELROSE PLACE 2.0 and was recently a staff writer for Kenya Barris’ (BLACKISH) new show for B.E.T.

He is a graduate of The Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwright’s Program at The Juilliard School and Vassar College where he studied mythology and religion. He’s a member of Partial Comfort and originally hails from Los Angeles..

“Jellyfishpine” by Michael Yichao, Thurs. August 6 at 7 p.m. (1 women, 3 men)

Emily loves Jack. Jack loves Emily – just never at the same time. A play about relationships, growing up, missed connections, time machines, quantum entanglement, and immortal jellyfish.

Michael Yichao (Playwright)

Michael Yichao is a playwright with a BA in English and Theater from ASU and an MFA in acting from California Institute of the Arts. With a strong interest in theatre for and about young people, Yichao’s works are often a blend of naturalistic and surreal elements, prose and poetry. His plays have received recognition from the Kennedy Center’s American Colleges Theater Festival (2012, 2013, 2014), Playwright Center’s Many Voices Fellowship (finalist 2013), PlayPenn (semi-finalist 2015), Crystal Ruth Bell Residency (finalist 2014), Last Frontier Theatre Conference (2012), and Great Plains Theatre Conference (2014). His plays have been produced at the Bath Fringe Festival (2014), Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2013), and at theaters in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Boston, St. Louis and Chicago. In addition to playwriting, Yichao also writes for TV (Chinese sitcom 艾特洛杉矶) and themed entertainment (Disney Imagineering).

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