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Hometown: Orange County, Calif.
Current home: New York City
Known for: A recent graduate of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, Marlin’s play bad things happen here was presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2018, was shortlisted for the Berliner Festspiele Stuckemarkt, and was a finalist for the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. His play Breakfast Scene won the 2017 Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival, and his new work What a World! What a World! was recently seen at Ars Nova’s ANT Fest.
What’s next: As part of his residency with Montclair State University’s New Works Initiative, he’ll present his play How to Mourn the Dead: A Tragedy (in flux) at Montclair Feb. 20-23, with direction by Ilana Khanin.
What makes him special: “Eric approaches all of his work with clearly articulated intentions, combined with curiosity and openness,” says Lila Rachel Becker, a director who met Marlin in the Iowa MFA program. “I was immediately struck by his generosity as a collaborator. With each of our collaborations, I’ve been more and more impressed by his courage and artistry.”
Terrible Rage: While the forms of his work vary, Marlin says he can trace the “core concerns” of his writing to a quote from Anne Carson, a translator of Greek tragedians: “Why does tragedy exist? Because you are full of rage. Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief.” Marlin says that this combination of “deep thinking and deep feeling” is the source of his new work, adding that he is “endlessly inspired by the new generation of writers who fearlessly explore their own rage and grief.”
Profession: Actor, singer, and dancer
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Current home: Chicago
Known for: Gonzalez-Cadel won a Joseph Jefferson Award for her portrayal of Lela in Steep Theatre’s Lela & Co. She is also known for her work in world premieres: She originated the roles of Myrna in Sandra Delgado’s La Havana Madrid; Gabriela in Stephanie Alison Walker’s The Abuelas; and Claire in David Catlin’s adaptation of Frankenstein.
What’s next: Gonzalez-Cadel is currently shooting the fourth season of the FX series “Fargo,” in which she plays recurring character Naneeda Fadda.
What makes her special: “I had the opportunity to experience Cruz’s incredible and natural skills as an actor when she was cast in my play Friends With Guns,” says Walker. “Our most meaningful collaboration was last year, when she helped profoundly shape the lead role of Gabriela in the premiere of The Abuelas at Teatro Vista,” Walker adds. “She is a brilliant, trusted, generous, and fearless collaborator who is a gift to playwrights.”
Expanding the canon: Gonzalez-Cadel is no stranger to the new-play development process. “I love collaborating with playwrights on crafting characters to reflect the truth of the world around them. I am driven by my belief in the power of storytelling,” she says, adding that she hopes to “influence the American canon with the richness of my cultural background and experiences.”
Profession: Director, artistic director, and educator
Hometown: “New York City, baby!”
Current home: NYC
Known for: Agins is the co-artistic director of Upstart Creatures, a company that combines theatre and food into “metaphysical feasts” for special events. She also directed Radiance at LAByrinth Theater Company and Jailbait at Cherry Lane Theatre, and served as the artistic associate for new plays at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
What’s next: As Upstart heads into its fifth year, Agins is also working with students and alumni at Princeton University, where she is a lecturer in theatre, on a project commemorating the 50th anniversary of women being admitted to Princeton.
What makes her special: As the co-artistic director, Agins chooses the meals for Upstart performances, but the whole company gets in on the action. “I remain in awe of the level of care and detail that Suzie brings to everything she does, from finding classical scripts for our audiences to putting together gourmet, made-from-scratch meals,” says her co-artistic director, Michael Barakiva. “This is a woman who believes in taking care of the company and the audience and making sure they all get fed,” both literally and artistically.
Barrier breaker: Agins is attracted to theatre that blurs the line, not only between meal service and play performance but between audiences and performers. “The Upstart Creatures’ events are like nothing else I’ve ever experienced, in terms of strangers breaking down barriers and entering a dialogue with each other,” she says. “I’ve also been directing more musicals lately, which break down barriers in a similar way. The performativity and constant feedback loop of song and applause keeps the energy circulating between house and stage, which I find exciting.”
Profession: Scenic designer and professor of scenography
Hometown: Pleasant View, Utah
Current home: Arcata, Calif.
Known for: In addition to designing for productions at Humboldt State University in Arcata, where he serves as assistant professor of scenography, Ulrich served as the scenic designer for As You Like It at Ozark Actors Theatre in Rolla, Mo.; I and You at Wharton Center for the Performing Arts in East Lansing, Mich.; and multiple productions at Porthouse Theatre in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
What’s next: Ulrich is scenic designing for Tuck Everlasting at Bellevue Little Theatre in Omaha, Neb. and Treasure Island at Humboldt State, both opening in March.
What makes him special: “Patrick is able to create beautiful designs on any budget, for any skill level of carpenter and scene shop,” says director and playwright Alex S. Freeman, who met Ulrich in graduate school. “One of my favorite things about working with Patrick is the in-depth nature of our conversations. He wants to know everything about the production—who is building, the concept, the themes. He creates designs that not only deeply support the storytelling, but also deeply support the logistics of bringing the production to life.”
Redemption song: Ulrich loves to work with theatres for young audiences as well as university students. After graduating from Kent State University’s MFA scenic design program last spring, Ulrich sees his job now as training “the next generation of theatre artists to respect their chosen craft.” In his own creative efforts he’s especially attracted to work that speaks to a particular theme: “I enjoy my job most when I am working with passionate people telling a story of redemption,” he says. “Experiencing a redemptive story live onstage can be healing and liberating, and is always inspiring.”
Profession: Artistic producer
Hometown: San Diego, Calif.
Current home: Washington, D.C.
Known for: For six years Sapien worked at California’s La Jolla Playhouse, where she was the producer and curator of the 2019 Without Walls Festival, selecting the programming and leading the team that brought it to life. The festival mounted more than 20 productions over the course of four days and featured local, national, and international artists. Also at La Jolla, she served as the company’s local casting director for a variety of productions.
What’s next: Since relocating to D.C. she’s getting used to a new city with a vibrant theatre scene as a casting director and line producer at Arena Stage.
What makes her special: Sapien has made connections nationwide through her hands-on approach to her artistic and administrative practices. “Teresa is addicted to searching for exciting projects and artists,” says director Jaime Castañeda, who worked with Sapien at La Jolla. “She possesses all the administrative muscle to develop new material and loves the art of collaboration.”
Access for all: As a producer, Sapien wants to bring theatre to new audiences, especially those shut out by traditional theatre spaces. “I’m inspired by the theatres looking at how to turn their buildings into places where all feel welcome,” she says. “The way an audience member feels the moment they step into the space—whether that’s the parking lot, sidewalk, neighborhood—makes such an impact on how the art reaches the community. I wonder about some of our assumed practices in this business and whether they are helping our mission to interact with today’s world. I admire companies trying out different methods.”
Profession: Director and producer
Hometown: Windsor, Conn.
Current home: San Diego, Calif.
Known for: Perry is currently an artistic associate at the Old Globe and previously served as a producing associate at the Classical Theatre of Harlem in New York City. In addition, Perry teaches courses in UC San Diego’s MFA acting program, where he directed an original devised piece this fall.
What’s next: Perry is heading to New York City to assistant direct for Steve Broadnax III’s production of The Hot Wing King (Feb. 11-March 15) by Katori Hall at Signature Theatre. Also on the docket for Perry: developing a new play at UCSD in the spring.
What makes him special: “Lamar is a dream collaborator,” says Flo Low, the associate director of arts programs at the Israel Institute. “He advocates for underrepresented voices and is gifted at calling people in—not out—for crucial conversations about our moral obligations as artmakers.”
Building a new table: Perry started out as an actor, and was inspired to create new spaces for marginalized artists after facing challenges in the industry. “I got into directing and producing mainly as a way to not only have a seat at the table, but to create new tables and dismantle rooms, pipelines, and hierarchies that have traditionally asked Black and brown people, women, and queer folk to silence themselves for the sake of employment,” he says. “How many others in my diaspora have equitable access to artistic homes? I’d like to hope that my directing work, which is mainly focused on investigating race, gender, and sexuality in a way that does not exploit trauma, speaks to a defiance steeped in the want for systemic change.”