Mentor Project
































































































































Explore MP's History

Teresa Avia Lim and Tiffany Villarin in Jiehae Park's PEERLESS

Eileen Rivera, Brenna Palughi and Shannon Marie Sullivan in Jesse Jou's re-envisioned KING LEAR

Elizabeth Ramos and Lisa Ramirez in Kristina Poe's THE IDEA OF ME
Photos by Chasi Annexy

Ruy Iskandar and Vichet Chum in THE HUNTERS by Jen Silverman. Photos by Erik Pearson

Claudia Rahardjanoto, Cartier Williams, Hillary-Mary in SONNETS ON TAP, conceived and directed by Awoye Timpo

Kahan James and Mahira Kakkar in THE RAGGED CLAWS

Elizabeth A. Davis in her solo performance JOE

Lisa Ramirez in her solo performance PAS DE DEUX (lost my shoe)

Liza Fernandez in Natalia Naman's THE LAWNPEOPLE

Nadine Malouf in Nastaran Ahmadi's EXILE

Photos by Chasi Annexy



Cherry Lane congratulates the 2017 participating artists on this record-breaking season!


Monica Rae Summers Gonzalez and Juan Castano, photo by Russ Rowland


Featuring: Juan Castano, Erin Cherry, William Gaffney, Jesse J. Perez, and Monica Rae Summers Gonzalez

Three siblings fight to keep each other safe from the demons their parents created. For Mars, Leon and Marie, what defines family is survival. As love seems to leave them, they begin to battle their own desires and destiny, praying at the end of the day they'll still have one another.

Angelica Borrero, Scenic Design;  Anna Blazer, Costume Design;  Zach Blane, Lighting Design;  Daniel Melnick, Sound Design    

Addison Heeren, Properties Master;  Roxanne Goodby, Assistant Stage Manager

Sean Gorski, Production Manager;  Angela Perez*;  Production Stage Manager 



Hampton Fluker and Eden Marryshow, photo by Da Ping Luo


Featuring: Caleb Eberdardt, Hampton Fluker, Eden Marryshow, Ashton Muñiz

Esai's Table follows the journey of three young black men on a mythical night sea journey atop a magical old table. Through artistic expression and personal revelations, we learn why they've been chosen to navigate this journey. Destiny meets eternity in this story of black lives, friendship, family, and love.

Kristen Robinson, Scenic Design;  Tilly Grimes, Costume Design;  Barbara Samuels, Lighting Design;  Matt Otto, Sound Design    

Addison Heeren, Properties Master;  Sharon Suh, Assistant Stage Manager

Sean Gorski, Production Manager;  Carolyn Reich, Production Stage Manager 



Kelechi Ezie and Dorcas Sowunmi, photo by Russ Rowland


Featuring: Nyahale Allie, Kelechi Ezie, Washington Kirk, Nana Mensah, Irungu Mutu, Dorcas Sowunmi

n the 1990s, Nollywood (the Nigerian film industry) is on the rise. Ayamma dreams of leaving her job at her parents' travel agency and becoming a star. When she auditions for a new film by Nigeria's hottest director, tension flares with his former leading lady - as sparks fly with Nollywood's biggest heartthrob.

Arnulfo Maldonado, Scenic Design;  Dede Ayite, Costume Design; Chris Thielking, Lighting Design;  Matt Otto, Sound Design; Crystal Arnette | Adventure We Can, Video Design    

Domique Hill, Assistant Costume Design; Addison Heeren, Properties Master; Lauren Graneto, Assistant Stage Manager

Sean Gorski, Production Manager;  Michael Denis*, Production Stage Manager 




About the 2017 Artists:

REN DARA SANTIAGO (Playwright) is a Harlem-based playwright and actor of Filipino and Puerto Rican descent. She writes inclusive, current, empathic stories that breed bravery and compassion in conversation. She has been nominated for the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award both in 2015 and 2016 for her family drama, The Siblings Play, which has been work-shopped at LAByrinth Theater under a playwright's apprenticeship, MCC Theater (PlayLabs), and has a home with Middle Voice at Rattlestick, where she is currently an Artistic Producer.


NATHAN YUNGERBERG (Playwright) is a Brooklyn-based playwright. His plays include Esai’s Table, The Son of Dawn, Pousada Azul, Evelyn Dreams of Horses, Orchids and Polka Dots and Brush Strokes. Nathan’s work has been developed or featured  by The Playwrights’ Center,  Crowded Fire Theater, The Brooklyn Museum, The Lorraine Hansberry Theater, Brava Theater, The Lark, The Fire This Time Festival, 48 Hours in Harlem, The National Black Theatre, The Hansberry Project, The National Black Theatre Festival, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Blackboard Reading Series, The Dramatists Guild,  Flashpoint Theater, The August Wilson Red Door Project, New Venture Theater, The Brooklyn Generator, Multistages theater and BBC Radio Afternoon Drama. Nathan is one of seven black playwrights commissioned by The New Black Fest for HANDS UP: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments. Awards and honors: The 2016 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference (Semifinalist), Ken Davenport 10-Minute Play Festival (Winner), 11th Annual InspiraTO Festival (Finalist), Blue Ink Playwriting Award (Semifinalist), and PICK OF THE VINE 2016 at Little Fish Theatre (Semifinalist).

JOCELYN BIOH (Playwright) is a 1st generation Ghanaian-American writer/peformer from New York City. She has her B.A. in English and Theatre from The Ohio State University and MFA in Theatre-Playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts. Jocelyn is a commissioned playwright with Manhattan Theatre Club and the Atlantic Theater Company and she is a Resident Playwright at LCT3. Her plays include: African Americans (Produced at Howard University 2015; Southern Rep Ruby Prize Award Finalist 2011; O'Neill Center Semi-Finalist, 2012), Nollywood Dreams (Kilroy's List 2015) and her new play School Girls (Kilroy's List 2016.) Her musical The Ladykiller’s Love Story, for which she conceived the story and wrote the libretto, with music/lyrics by Cee Lo Green, is currently in development with Hi-Arts NYC.  As an actress, Jocelyn's credits include: Men on Boats (Playwrights Horizons,) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time(Broadway; Tony Award Winner for Best Play, 2015), An Octoroon (Soho Rep, Obie Award Winner for Best Play, 2014), Booty Candy (Wilma Theater), Seed (Classical Theater of Harlem, Audelco Award Nominee), and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (City Theatre). She also originated the role of "Topsy" in the world premiere of Neighbors (The Public Theater, Audelco Award Nominee). TV: Former Cover Girl spokesmodel, “Blue Bloods” (NBC), “The Detour” (TBS), “The Characters” (Netflix), “Louie” (FX), and “One Life to Live” (ABC). 

STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS (Mentor) is a member and former co-artistic director of LAByrinth Theater Company. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States. They include Between Riverside and Crazy (Pulitzer Prize), Our Lady of 121st Street (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle Best Play Nominations), Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Edinburgh Festival Fringe First Award, Barrymore Award, Olivier Nomination for London’s Best New Play), In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings (2007 LA Drama Critics Best Play, Best Writing Award), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (10 best Time Magazine & Entertainment Weekly), and The Little Flower of East Orange (with Ellen Burstyn & Michael Shannon). All five plays were directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and were originally produced by LAByrinth. His 2011 play, The Motherf***er with the Hat (6 Tony nominations, including Best Play), was directed by Anna D. Shapiro and marked his third consecutive world premiere co-production with The Public Theater and LAByrinth. In London, his plays have premiered at The Donmar Warehouse, The Almeida (dir: Rupert Goold), The Hampstead (Robert Delamere), and at The Arts Theater in the West End. Other plays include Den of Thieves (Labyrinth, HERE, HAI, Black Dahlia) and Dominica The Fat Ugly Ho (dir: Adam Rapp) for the 2006 E.S.T. Marathon. He has received the Yale Wyndham-Campbell Prize, a PEN/Laura Pels Award, a Whiting Award, and a TCG fellowship. He is also a New Dramatists Alumnae and a member of MCC’s Playwright’s Coalition, The Ojai Playwrights Festival, New River Dramatists, and Labyrinth Theater Company. As an actor, he has appeared in theater, film and television, including roles in Kenneth Lonergan’s film "Margaret," Todd Solondz’s "Palindromes," and Brett C. Leonard’s "Jailbait" opposite Michael Pitt. A former violence prevention specialist and H.I.V. educator, he lives in New York City.

BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS (Mentor) Credits include Everybody (forthcoming at the Signature Theatre), War (LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater), Gloria (Vineyard Theatre; Pulitzer Prize-finalist), Appropriate (Signature Theatre; Obie Award), An Octoroon (Soho Rep; Obie Award) and Neighbors (The Public Theater). He is a Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre and under commissions from LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater, MTC/Sloan, and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His recent honors include the MacArthur Fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the Benjamin Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Theatre Award, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the Tennessee Williams Award.  He currently teaches in the Hunter College Playwriting MFA Program, where is a Master-Artist-in-Residence.

LUCY THURBER (Mentor) is the author of twelve plays: Where We’re Born, Ashville, Scarcity, Killers and Other Family, Stay, Bottom of The World, Monstrosity, Dillingham City, The Locus, Perry Street, The Insurgents and Transfers. Transfers was part of The New York Stage and Film 2016 Powerhouse Season also in the summer of 2016 Orpheus in The Berkshires at The Williamstown Theatre Festival. The Insurgents was produced at Labyrinth Theater Company and Contemporary American Theater Festival. Her five play cycle The Hill Town Plays was produced Off Broadway by Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater in-conjunction with The Cherry Lane Theater, The Axis Theater and The New Ohio Theatre. Lucy’s theatrical homes are Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater, The Atlantic Theater, Labyrinth Theater, New Dramatists and The Lark. Lucy wrote the text for QUIXOTE, conceived and directed by Lear deBessonet, a site-specific performance with the Psalters made for and with The Broad Street Community, also with Lear deBessonet and produced by 13P, Monstrosity. Lucy is published by Dramatists Play Service. She is an alumni of New Dramatists, A member of 13P, Labyrinth Theater Company, Rising Phoenix Rep and New Neighborhood. She got to spend an amazing time with Sundance Theatre at UCROSS in Wyoming and Lucy has been commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, The Contemporary American Theatre Festival, House on The Moon, Yale Rep. and Williamstown Theatre Festival. She is the recipient of Manhattan Theatre Club Playwriting Fellowship, the 1st Gary Bonasorte Memorial Prize for Playwriting, a proud recipient of a LILLY AWARD and an OBIE Award for The Hill Town Plays. 


About Mentor Project

Cherry Lane’s marquee program is our Obie Award-winning Mentor Project. Every year we pair three early-career playwrights in season-long, 1-on-1 mentoring relatonships with experienced dramatists. Mentors guide their fellows through an intensive developmental process consisting of readings and rehearsals, while serving as a trusted source of career advice and professional support. The program culminates in fully-staged productions that remain critic-free to avoid commercial concerns that woud inhibit the creative process. Each fellow receives a $5,000 stipend.

Mentor Project was established in 1998 by Founding Artistic Director Angelia Fiordellisi and was inspired by an important precursor in resience at Cherry Lane in the 60s: ALBARWILD, a collaboration between producers Richard Barr, Clinton Wilder, and playwrihgt Edward Albee, who created production opportunities for such early-career playwrights as Sam Shepard, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), A.R. Gurney, and Jean-Claude van Itallie. 

In 2018 Mentor Project celebrates its 20th anniversary season, having nurtured the careers of 62 emerging artists to fuel the next generation of American playwrights. Past fellows include Christopher Shinn (mentored by Charles Fuller in 1999), Anne Washburn (mentored by Craig Lucas in 2000), Julia Cho (mentored by David Henry Hwang in 2002), and Bathsheba Doran (mentored by Michael Weller in 2003). For Mentor Project 2016, we were proud to welcome back former fellowship recipients Rajiv Joseph (mentored by Theresa Rebeck in 2005), Katori Hall (mentored by Lynn Nottage in 2006), and Sheila Callaghan (mentored by Michael Weller in 2006) to return as mentors.

Explore MP's History

"The Plays of Mentor Project: a Cherry Lane Anthology"

Mentor Project is now in print! Read more

In the Artists' Own Words

"What the Cherry Lane is doing is so exciting. Most important, I think, is its mentoring program of young playwrights, and while it is nice that the Cherry Lane programming takes care of the important theatrical past, it is the mentoring program which will allow us to have an important theatrical future."

–MP 1999-2013 EDWARD ALBEE

"The Mentor Project is artfully designed to avoid the pitfalls of most play development workshops, directionless rewrites, lack of exposure to actors and audiences, and instead plunges the playwright directly into an intensely practical, tightly focused, experience...The Cherry Lane is doing essential work in building the next generation of American theatre artists."

–MP 2005 Mentor DAVID AUBURN

"The Mentor Project has my enthusiastic support. I have seen performances at the Cherry Lane rival the very finest professional theater this country has to offer."

–Co-Founding and Supervising Mentor 1999-2008 MICHAEL WELLER

"The Cherry Lane's belief in writers is absolute. And whether you are a young playwright staging a new play, or an experienced playwright passing along your advice and comfort, the mentor program at the Cherry Lane works on the most astonishing level, giving people a chance to talk with each other about the nearly impossible but nevertheless thrilling task of writing for the theater."

–MP 2001, 2002, 2003 Mentor MARSHA NORMAN

"Cherry Lane's Mentor Project asked me to read five plays, pick out the best one and be prepared to work with the playwright through drafts, reading, and showcase production. It proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my literary life."

–MP 1999, 2008, 2010 Mentor CHARLES FULLER

"I've been in touch with enough other fledgling playwrights to notice that buzz about your program is very good indeed. Writers in it seem happy, and writers outside of it want to get in."

–MP 1999, 2000, 2003 Mentor A. R. GURNEY

"Through the Cherry Lane Mentorship, I have had the privilege of working with two wonderfully gifted and dedicated young writers. They have taught me at least as much as I have taught them, and I am grateful for the opportunity to revisit that electrifying moment when a new playwright first emerges into the theatrical world."

–MP 2001, 2002, 2010 Mentor DAVID HENRY HWANG

"I am honored to be invited into the Cherry Lane Mentor Project. The playwriting art has been at the center of my life for so long that it is a great affirmation to me that an American institution of this historical stature and cultural scope recognized my motivation to serve."

–MP 2003, 2004 Mentor ED BULLINS

"I'm so proud of the Mentor Project and all the playwrights it's supported over the years. I feel so blessed to have been born at the Cherry Lane"

--MP 2006 Finalist Playwright KATORI HALL

"the greatest pay of all is the privilege to take part in the guidance of an artist who will be a vital contributor to the American theatre canon. In that respect with Nastaran [Ahmadi] I feel already I've been paid a thousand times over." 

--MP 2012 Mentor KIA CORTHRON