AlterTheater announces writers
for 2013 playwright residency

DATE:  February 20, 2013

CONTACT: Jeanette Harrison


February 2013— San Francisco Bay Area playwrights Ann Brebner, Marisela Treviño Orta, and Denmo Ibrahim, and Los Angeles playwright Larissa FastHorse named AlterLab resident playwrights for 2013.

AlterLab, a year-long residency for playwrights, supports the four writers as they each write a new play over the course of the year. Devised as a complement to AlterTheater’s commissioning program, AlterLab is a playwright-empowered, process-driven residency, encouraging writers to take on new challenges and stretch themselves as artists. “Our playwrights identify their creative goals for the year, and then the company works with the writers to design a structure for the residency that helps them meet those goals,” says AlterTheater co-founder Jeanette Harrison.

“AlterLab is a secret haven for playwrights,” says playwright Denmo Ibrahim. “Through collaboration, invitation and prompts, we’ve built a creative container where our ideas have legs. There’s something really special about these artist retreats. They feel alive, physical, and unexpected. But more importantly, they offer a writer community and support.”

Nominated by national and local theater luminaries, fellow playwrights, and AlterTheater associate artists, and chosen by AlterTheater’s Literary Committee, this year’s writers include commissioned writer Larissa FastHorse, a rising star on the national stage. “Larissa was one of several writers recommended to us by Native Voices at the Autry, the premiere Native American theater in the country,” says Literary Manager Richard Mosqueda. “We’re proud to commission her to develop a new play for AlterTheater, and very excited to have her as part of this residency program.”

Also new to AlterLab is San Francisco’s Denmo Ibrahim, a theatre maker and cofounder of award-winning alternative performance group Mugwumpin. AlterTheater presented a one-night workshop of Denmo’s work-in-progress FUNNY, A TRUNK SHOW (now entitled BABA) in 2011. (Winner of Noor’s Highlight Series. Staged workshop performance at New York Theatre Workshop, 2011.) “We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to support Denmo’s work,” says LitComm member Patricia Silver. “She brings a broad knowledge of the world we live in, and her wit, her poetic language and her empathy for her characters make her stories both touching and funny.”

Returning for the second time to AlterLab are associate artists Marisela Treviño Orta and Ann Brebner, both of whose first AlterLab plays are scheduled to receive their world premieres with AlterTheater. In the inaugural AlterLab, Ann developed THE DEAD GIRL, about a multi-racial family, love and grief, and unexpected visitors. THE DEAD GIRL receives its world premiere in April with AlterTheater.

Through AlterLab, Marisela developed an ambitious three-play cycle, all based on Latino mythology and folklore. The first play in her cycle, THE RIVER BRIDE, will premiere with AlterTheater in the 2013/2014 season. Inspired by Brazilian folklore about river dolphins who come ashore for three days to seduce women, THE RIVER BRIDE explores just what “happily ever after” means for a pair of sisters in a traditional fishing village along the Amazon River. In her current residency, she will develop the two other plays in the cycle, one set in San Francisco at the turn of the 21st century, and the other set in colonial Mexico.

Funding for AlterLab is provided in part by The San Francisco Foundation, Theatre Bay Area’s CA$H, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Representing a wealth of experiences and a diversity of backgrounds, AlterLab writers are:

Larissa FastHorse is a playwright and choreographer from the Sicangu Lakota Nation. She started her career as a very rare Native American ballet dancer from South Dakota, but she always loved to write.  After injuries forced Larissa to stand still, she worked in the film and TV industry as an executive and writer but missed the collaboration of theatre. Then a commission and production of AVERAGE FAMILY from the Tony Award winning Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis brought her home, and she hasn’t left since. Larissa’s second commission with Children’s Theatre Company, FANCY DANCER based on her life story, won the 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Distinguished New Play Development Grant.  It is in development to be directed by Peter Brosius. An Equity production of TEACHING DISCO SQUAREDANCING TO OUR ELDERS: A CLASS PRESENTATION, was the first of three commissions with Native Voices at the Autry in Los Angeles, the country’s leading producer of new Native American plays. 

In addition to AlterTheater, Larissa is under commission with Cornerstone Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Selected awards include the Center Theatre Group 2011-12 Writer’s Workshop, Aurand Harris Fellowship, a two time Ford New Works grant recipient, Sundance Fellowship, National Geographic Seed Grant and inscribed delegate to the UN in Geneva.  TV credits include two pilots; THE LINE for Fox and LAKOTA FALLS for Teen Nick. Larissa’s plays may be found with Dramatic Publishing, Plays for Young Audiences, the Native American Women Playwrights Archive at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and in the Alexander Street Press North American Indian Drama Database.

Denmo Ibrahim is an actor, writer, and creative entrepreneur based in San Francisco. Favorite projects include performances for A.C.T., Aurora Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Golden Thread and Theatre of Yugen. Recently, Denmo collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Carla Kihlstedt and OBIE winning director Rinde Eckert in the title role of Necessary Monsters, a YBCA commission. Nominations include Irene Ryan Acting Award and a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Actress in a Lead Role. The Lark, Silk Road, and Golden Thread selected her as an Honoree for the Middle East Initiative Award. Denmo has written two full-length plays and co-created seven ensemble based projects. Original commissions include new work for Golden Thread, Theatre of Yugen, foolsFURY, Shotgun Players, Root Division, 111 Minna Gallery, EXIT Theatre, Bebersee Classical Music Festival (Germany) and Loire Valley Festival (France). Her work has been generously supported by Zellerbach, Walter Gerbode Family Foundation, Theatre Bay Area’s New Work Fund and TBA’s CA$H Grant. Denmo holds an M.F.A. in Lecoq-Based: Actor-Created Physical Theatre from Naropa University, a BFA from Boston University and is a co-founder of Mugwumpin, a San Francisco performance company.

Denmo will be completing her solo play, BABA during AlterLab. The performance spans 30 years, two continents and one dream of a Middle Eastern father, his daughter, and their search for the American dream. AlterTheater will produce the world premiere in 2014. In addition, Denmo will be crafting a series of short pieces during the residency’s weekend workshops.

Longtime AlterTheater ensemble member Ann Brebner co-wrote with Laurel Graver Hard Laughter, an adaptation for the stage of Anne Lamott’s first novel, which AlterTheater premiered in 2008. Ms. Brebner has written a memoir entitled All My Mothers, two plays (A Wild Wilde Night and Remember When) for Porchlight Theatre, a children’s book, and three screenplays. Trained at London’s prestigious Old Vic, Ms. Brebner has spent her life working in film and theater. She has directed both new work and the classics, in New York, London, New Zealand, and in the Bay Area, including the award-winning Intimate Apparel for AlterTheater in 2010. As a casting director, she worked on all the major films that shot in San Francisco in the 1960s and 1970s, including Bullitt, Harold and Maude, and many others. She co-founded Marin Shakespeare Company, and led the drive the restore the Rafael Theatre in downtown San Rafael.

Ms. Brebner is a returning member of AlterLab: the play which she wrote during the inaugural AlterLab, The Dead Girl, will receive its world premiere in April. Her next AlterLab project will be about her childhood growing up in New Zealand in the 1920s and 1930s.

Playwright and poet Marisela Treviño Orta received an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco where she studied poetry. In 2005 she began the transition to playwright when her first play Braided Sorrow was read at the 2005 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Braided Sorrow went on to win the 2006 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in Drama, received its world premiere at Su Teatro in Denver, CO., in 2008 and won the 2009 Pen Center USA Literary Award in Drama.

Her plays include: American Triage (commissioned by Marin Theatre Company, 2007 MTC Nu Werkz new play reading series, 2008 MTC workshop production, 2011 East LA Rep reading series, Repertorio Español 2012 MetLife Nuestras Voces National Playwriting finalist); Braided Sorrow (2005 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, 2006 [Inside] the Ford Summer Reading series, 2006 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize in Drama, 2008 World Premiere Su Teatro, 2009 Pen Center USA Literary Award in Drama, Poetic Theater Productions 2013 Poetic License festival); Heart Shaped Nebula (2011 Playwrights Foundation Resident Playwrights Showcase, 2011 Impact Theatre reading series, 2012 O’Neill Playwrights Conference Semi-Finalist, 2013 Halcyon Theatre developmental production); and Woman on Fire (2006 Primer Pasos: Un Festival de Latino Plays, 2007 full-length commission by the Latino Playwrights Initiative, 2007 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, 2008 Playwrights Foundation’s Rough reading series, 2012 Teatro Luna’s Lunadas reading series).

Marisela is a former member of Playground’s writers pool and an alumna of the Playwrights Foundation’s Resident Playwrights Initiative. During her three-year residency at the Playwrights Foundation she developed Heart Shaped Nebula, a 2012 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist. Marisela is also one of the founding editors of Switchback, the official literary journal of the University of San Francisco’s MFA in Writing program. Her poetry has appeared in BorderSenses, Double Room, 26: A Journal of Poetry and Poetics and Traverse. Marisela also writes a literary blog: Variations on a Theme

Public contact: 415-454-2787