Playwriting Workshops: Writers' Biographies

LESLIE AYVAZIAN’S full-length plays include Nine Armenians (Manhattan Theatre Club, directed by Lynne Meadow - Outer Critics Critics Award), Singer’s Boy (American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, directed by Cary Perloff), High Dive (Long Wharf Theatre, directed by David Warren), and Make Me (Atlantic Theatre, directed by Christian Parker). Her solo pieces include Plan Day and Hello There Mr. Machine (Ensemble Studio Theatre), FOOTLIGHTS
(Vineyard Theatre), and In Motherwords (Geffen Playhouse, Primary Stages). Leslie has received commissions from the Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Repertory Theatre and the Atlantic Theatre Co. As an actress, her credits include A Naked Girl On The Appian Way on Broadway, as well as Neptune’s Hips at Ensemble Studio Theatre and Safe As Houses at the McCarter Theatre. Television credits include Damages, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Leslie teaches at Columbia University, and leads long-running writing groups in NYC.

JON ROBIN BAITZ’s plays include The Film Society, The Substance of Fire, The End Of The Day, Three Hotels, A Fair Country (Pulitzer Prize finalist 1996), Mizlansky/Zilinsky, Ten Unknowns, and The Paris Letter, as well as a version of Hedda Gabler (Broadway, 2001). He created Brothers & Sisters, the TV series which ran for five seasons, until 2011. Other TV work includes PBS’s version of Three Hotels, for which he won the Humanitas Award, and episodes of West Wing and Alias. He is the author of two screenplays; the film script for The Substance of Fire (1996), and People I Know (2002) He is a founding member of Naked Angels Theatre Company, and on the faculties of the MFA programs at The New School for Drama, and SUNY Stony Brook/ Southampton. Other Desert Cities won the Outer Critics Circle Award in 2011.

STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS is co-artistic director of New York City's LAByrinth Theater Company. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States. They include The Motherf**ker with the Hat (six Tony nominations including Best Play), Our Lady of 121st Street (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle Best Play Nominations, 10 best plays of 2003), 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 (starring Elen Burstyn & Michael Shannon) at The Public Theater. All five plays were originally produced by LAByrinth and directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. The Motherf**ker with the Hat marks his third consecutive world premiere co-production with The Public Theater. In London, his plays have premiered at The Donmar Warehouse, The Almeida (dir: Rupert Goold), The Hampstead (Robert Delamere), and at The Arts in the West End. Other plays include Den of Thieves (HERE, HAI Theater Festival), and Dominica The Fat Ugly Ho (dir: Adam Rapp) for the 2006 E.S.T. Marathon.

He has received a 2006 PEN/Laura Pels Award, a 2006 Whiting Award, and a 2004 TCG fellowship, new play commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club, Center Theater Group, and South Coast Repertory, and is a member of LAByrinth Theater Company, New Dramatists, MCC's Playwright's Coalition, Ojai Playwrights Festival, and New River Dramatists.

Television writing credits include "NYPD Blue," "The Sopranos," David Milch's CBS drama "Big Apple," and Shane Salerno's NBC series "UC: Undercover". As an actor, Stephen has had leading film roles in Todd Solondz's Palindromes, Brett C. Leonard's Jailbait (opposite Michael Pitt), and in Kenneth Lonergan's upcoming Margaret. Other film credits include Philip Seymour Hoffman's Jack Goes Boating, Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche New York, Adam Rapp's Blackbird, Noah Buschel's Neal Cassady, as well as Meet Joe Black (dir: Martin Brest), Noise (dir: Henry Bean), Trainwreck: My Life as an Idiot (dir: Todd Harrsion Williams), and TV's "Law and Order." He directed Liza Colon-Zayas' Sistah Supreme for Danny Hoch's Hip Hop Theater Festival, Marco Greco's award-winning Behind the Counter with Mussolini in New York and Los Angeles, and Melanie Maras's Kiss Me on the Mouth (InViolet Rep/CSNY.

A former HIV Educator/Violence Prevention Specialist, he lives in New York City.

MARSHA NORMAN is the winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize, Blackburn Prize, Hull-Warriner, and Drama Desk Awards for her play ‘Night, Mother. In l992 she won a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for her book for the Broadway musical, The Secret Garden. She also wrote the book for the Broadway musical, The Color Purple, for which she also received a Tony nomination. The Color Purple is currently in the third year of its national first-class tour. Her new play, The Master Butcher’s Singing Club, premiered at the Guthrie Theatre in the fall of 2010. She is currently writing a musical based on The Bridges Of Madison County, with Jason Robert Brown, and another musical, Bandits, with Sheryl Crow. Her other plays include Getting Out, for which she won the John Gassner Medallion and the American Theater Critics Association Citation, Third And Oak: The Laundromat, The Pool Hall, The Holdup, Traveler In The Dark, Sarah And Abraham, Loving Daniel Boone, Trudy Blue, and Last Dance.

Her television and film credits include “‘Night, Mother,” starring Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft, “The Laundromat,” starring Carol Burnett and Amy Madigan; “The Pool Hall,” starring James Earl Jones; “Face Of A Stranger,” starring Gena Rowlands and Tyne Daley; “Cooler Climate,” starring Sally Field and Judy Davis; “Audrey Hepburn, Custody Of The Heart,” and most recently, “Samantha, An American Girl.” She spent one year as Co-Executive Producer of “Law And Order: Criminal Intent,” and in 2009, wrote the Gina episodes of Season 2 of HBO’s “In Treatment,” for which she won a Peabody award. She is currently writing an HBO movie based on “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.”

Her other published work includes FOUR PLAYS, COLLECTED WORKS OF MARSHA NORMAN, VOL 1, and a novel, THE FORTUNE TELLER. She has Grammy and Emmy nominations, as well as grants and awards from among others, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She has won the Margo Jones Award, and the Sidney Kingsley Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guild Hall Academy of Arts and Letters. In the spring of 2011,
she received the William Inge Lifetime Achievement Award in Playwriting.

For 17 years, Ms. Norman has been Co-Chair, with Christopher Durang, of the Playwriting Department of The Juilliard School. She also taught the Master’s Thesis in Playwriting Class at NYU from 2004-2010. She writes and lectures frequently on the theatre and has 18 honorary degrees from American colleges and Universities.

She was elected to membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers and serves on the Governing Board of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She is Chair of the Academic Affairs committee of the Board of Trustees of Agnes Scott College, and a former Vice-President of the Dramatists Guild of America. She attended Agnes Scott College, holds a B.A. in Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Louisville. She is a native of Kentucky and currently lives in New York.

JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY is from The Bronx. His plays include DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, SAVAGE IN LIMBO, ITALIAN AMERICAN RECONCILIATION, WELCOME TO THE MOON, FOUR DOGS AND A BONE, CELLINI, DIRTY STORY, DEFIANCE and PIRATE. His theatrical work is performed extensively across the United States and around the world. For his play, DOUBT, he received both the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In the arena of screenwriting, he has nine films to his credit, most recently DOUBT, with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, which was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay. The film of DOUBT was also directed by Mr. Shanley. Other films include FIVE CORNERS (Special Jury Prize, Barcelona Film Festival), ALIVE, JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO, which he also directed, and LIVE FROM BAGHDAD for HBO (Emmy nomination). For his script of MOONSTRUCK he received both the Writers Guild of America Award and an Academy Award for best original screenplay. The Writers Guild of America awarded Mr. Shanley the 2009 Lifetime Achievement In Writing