ALL HANDS ON DECK
a play festival created and curated by
Antu Yacob, Associate Producer
The ALL HANDS ON DECK series is a play festival that shares 4 new works by Female Playwrights of the African Diaspora. Featuring plays written by award winning notable playwrights France-Luce Benson and Nikkole Salter, as well as up-and-comers Banna Desta and Sienna Jones, the series will share different perspectives of the Black experience in America. Conceived by Antu Yacob, this session's theme is a Conversation with the Ancestors, Past/Present/Future. Weaving in live music, the series aims to explore theater as ritual and activism in our times.
France-Luce Benson, Nikkole Salter, Banna Desta, and Sienna L. Jones
Stay tuned for information on directors, actors, and how to watch!
Antu Yacob (Associate Producer) was born in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia and raised in California and Minnesota. She is an actor, playwright and producer. She was last seen onstage in The Fire This Time Festival Season 11. Her solo show In The Gray was featured in United Solo Theatre Festival and the Symposium on African Global Migration. Her plays have been premiered at Kampala International Theatre Festival (Uganda), Project Y Theatre, Theatre167, and Mile Square Theatre. Her work has been read in the NowAfrica Playwrights Festival, The Playwriting Collective/NY Madness, Crossroads Theatre and CoLABArts. Her theater acting credits include work with American Slavery Project, Primary Stages, Crossroads Theatre, Luna Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, Philadelphia Theatre Co, Mixed Blood Theatre, Pangea World Theatre and Pillsbury House Theatre. Her tv/film acting credits include Night Comes On, Daredevil, Gypsy, Law & Order: SVU, Brooklyn Park and Conjure. Her original film Love in Submission is currently in post-production. Antu teaches at Baruch College and Rutgers University. She received her MFA in Acting from Rutgers University.
France-Luce Besson (Playwright) Named “Someone to Watch ” in 2019 by American Theatre magazine; Honors include: Zoetrope Grand Prize - Caroline’s Wedding; Bay Area Playwights Festival 2020 Finalist - Tigress of San Domingue; Miranda Foundation Grant – Detained, Princess Grace Award runner up -Boat People. Dramatists Guild Fellow, Sam French OOB Festival Winner, and Kilroys List. Residencies include Djerassi, the Camargo Foundation, and Instituto Sacatar in Brazil. Productions and workshops at Ensemble Studio Theatre NY, Billy Holiday Theatre, Crossroads Theatre, City Theatre of Miami, The Playwrights Center , Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the New Black Fest at The Lark. Publications: Sam French, Routledge Press; MFA in Dramatic Writing: Carnegie Mellon University.
Banna Desta (Playwright) is an Eritrean & Ethiopian-American playwright and screenwriter, who crafts stories about and for the African diaspora. Her short play, Pining, premiered at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and was published by Samuel French in 2019. She assistant directed the 2018 production of Thom Pain: based on nothing at the Signature Theater in New York. She has assisted multiple television series (Filthy Rich, This Is Us) and is currently the showrunner’s assistant for the BET+ series First Wives Club. She was awarded the John Golden Prize for excellence in playwriting at NYU, where she received her MFA in Dramatic Writing.
Sienna L. Jones (Playwright) is currently pursuing her MFA for Dramatic Writing at NYU. During her undergrad years at Rutgers University, she created, wrote, directed and starred in three web series, which are all available on YouTube. Sienna loves all the different aspects of telling a story, whether it's from a camera lens or a stage. She would like to thank Antu, for believing in her, and of course her family for their constant support.
Zoom Plays: Reading Series
In March we put out an open call for plays and scenes written to be performed on the Zoom platform. We currently have over 285 submissions (and counting!) from around the world. We have put together two teams of readers to read every single play that was submitted to our open source ZOOM PLAYS database. Through a multi-step process, we are choosing a handful of plays to present as public readings in July and August. Stay tuned for announcements about the plays! To learn more about Zoom Plays or submit your own play, click here!
Andrew W. Smith (Producer) is a professional Actor, Director, and Producer whose work has been seen throughout New York City, regionally, and internationally. He is also the Co-Founding Artistic Director of award-winning Project Y Theatre Company in New York City.
Selected regional acting work includes: Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Pittsburgh City Theatre, Quantum Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Roundhouse Theatre, Potomac Theatre Project, Ars Nova, Studio Theatre, and Olney Center for the Arts. He toured with The National Players on their 50th anniversary as Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac. Filmwork includes Lucid, Shooting Script, Death of a Nation (Winner: Best Short, IndieFest 2011; Best in Show, Best Shorts Competition 2011), Under-Ground. Television work includes GONE, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, One Life to Live, As the World Turns, Guiding Light.
Andrew is currently an Assistant Professor of Acting at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. He also spent two years as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre at Middlebury College, Vermont, from which he also received his BA in theatre. He is also graduate of the MFA Acting program at the University of California, San Diego, from which he received the Teaching Excellence Award upon graduation. www.smithandrewwilliam.com
The One & Only Amanda Palmer
by Kat Mustatea
directed by Michole Biancosino
featuring Natalie Nankervis
As part of our continued experimentation with new media and with new tools gained through our participation in the Orchard Project's Liveness Lab, Project Y will produce a world premiere play digitally.
Amanda Palmer's world comes undone when she discovers she is not the only Amanda Palmer in the world who can turn into a cat at night.
Kat Mustatea (Playwright) is a playwright and technologist. Her plays have been performed in New York, Chicago, Berlin, and Oslo. Her current play, “One-Eye,” is about a cyclops who tries to fit into Manhattan society by getting a second eye surgically implanted in his head. She is a founder and co-curator of EdgeCut.org, a monthly series of short performance works, and a current member of NEW INC, the art and tech incubator at The New Museum of Art in New York City. She speaks and writes frequently about the intersection of cutting edge technology and art (SXSW, The Pompidou Center in Paris, Creative Tech Week) and is a board member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, a NYC trustee of the Awesome Foundation, and a member of Dramatists Guild. Her TED talk is about puppets and algorithms. (Website: mustatea.com)
Michole Biancosino (Producer, Director) is the Co-Founding Artistic Director of Project Y Theatre Company, where she has developed and directed new work in Washington, D.C. and New York City over the past 19 years. With Project Y, she has led various professional productions, as producer, director, and writer. She devised and directed the world premiere of the NY Innovative Award-winning “Landmarks & TRANSformations.” She is the co-creator and director of the long-running shows, Trump Lear and the award-winning, Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet (as performed by David Carl), both of which received runs through the US in theatres including Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Kitchen Dog Theatre in Dallas, TX, and runs in Colorado and Florida. Both shows received co-productions in Edinburgh Fringe with the U.K.-based Richard Jordan Productions. She directed the NY Innovative Theatre Award-winning NY Premiere of CONNECTED, by Lia Romeo, at 59E59 Theaters where it had record sales and attendance. She co-created and directed Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet (as performed by David Carl) at FringeNYC, where it received an Award for “Outstanding Solo Show” and an extended Fringe Encore! run at Baruch Performing Arts Center, followed by a run at Underbelly as part of the Edinburgh Fringe August 2015. The show was reviewed by The New York Times, calling it “a head-spinning performance.” She also directed Addie Walsh’s That’s All I Got, at the United Solo Festival where it won an Award for “Best Variety Show.” In the past she has directed the World Premiere of Lee Blessing’s User’s Guide to Hell, featuring Bernard Madoff, at Atlantic Stage 2, the World Premiere musical LoveSick or THINGS THAT DON’T HAPPEN, plays by Lia Romeo, songs by Tony Biancosino, at 59E59 Theaters, nominated for 3 NYIT Awards including Best Production of a Musical, the critically acclaimed The Revival, by Samuel Brett Williams, at Theatre Row, nominated for 7 NYIT Awards, including Best Production of a Play and Outstanding Direction, and named The Advocate’s #2 show of 2010. Her production of Samuel Brett Williams’ Derby Day at Theatre Row’s The Clurman was named one of the Top 10 shows of 2011 by Paper Mag.
She directs Peter Michael Marino’s long-running solo shows, Show Up! And Show Up.. Kids!, both of which continue to tour venues across the country and internationally. Michole is a Founder and Producer of Project Y’s Women in Theatre Festival, now in its 4th year, which supports the work of 75-100 women artists each summer.
Michole was the recipient of the prestigious SDC Gielgud Fellowship for classical directing and was featured as a Top Young Woman Artist in Nervy Girl Magazine. Her work with Project Y Theatre has been supported by grants from The Puffin Foundation, ART/NY, NY Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), The Dramatists Guild, LitNY Fund, EAG Open Space Grant, and New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). She is a two-time SPARC grantee through the Brooklyn Arts Council. She holds an MFA in Directing from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts. This August she returns to Edinburgh for a second run of Trump Lear at the Pleasance Courtyard. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Middlebury College in the Department of Theatre. For more information: www.micholebiancosino.com
Project Y is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and community of artists, designers, and playwrights devoted to developing new work through staged readings, online video projects, workshop productions, and fully produced world premieres, allowing new and emerging voices to be part of the theatrical conversation.
Founded in Washington, D.C. in 1999, Project Y was formed with one simple impulse – focusing on one project at a time and allowing the play’s needs inform all creative and producing choices.
Celebrating a 15 years producing history in both Washington, D.C. and New York City, Project Y has an unwavering presence in the New York Off-Off Broadway community and has been nominated for nine Innovative Theater Awards. Project Y has been the recipient of grants from NYSCA, ART/NY, The Nancy Quinn Fund, and the humanitarian Puffin Foundation.
Performance space for this production was subsidized by the A.R.T./New York Theatres Rental Subsidy Fund, a program of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York).
This production is supported, in part, by The Nancy Quinn Fund, a program of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York).