SUMO author is the 2024 Tow Foundation Playwright Residency awardee


Screengrab from YouTube via Ma-Yi Theater

NEW YORK — Ma-Yi Theater Company has announced that Lisa Sanaye Dring is the 2024 Tow Foundation Playwright Residency awardee. Dring’s groundbreaking play, SUMO, which had its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in a co-production with Ma-Yi in October 2023, is slated for its New York premiere in 2024.

SUMO is an ambitious and unique work that gives audiences a peek into the highly ritualized and hierarchical world of Sumo wrestling. The play’s premiere received critical acclaim, including a 2023 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

Lisa Sanaye Dring/Photo Ma-Yi

During her residency, Dring will work closely with Ma-Yi Theater’s Producing Artistic Director, Ralph B. Peña, to refine and enhance SUMO by integrating insights from its run at the La Jolla Playhouse.

According to Ma-Yi, the Two Playwright Residency offers a unique opportunity for playwrights to be integrated into the theater’s daily hosting while preparing their plays for production. This year-long residency provides a full-time salary and health benefits to the playwright.

“Investing in outstanding talent like Lisa Sanaye Dring reinforces Ma-Yi’s commitment to nurturing emerging Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) playwrights,” added Ma-Yi’s Associate Producer, Jakob Carter.

Dring’s play SUMO was co-produced by La Jolla Playhouse and Ma-Yi Theater Company in 2023. SUMO won an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and was recently nominated for Outstanding New Play by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle. In 2024, her work will be produced by East West Players, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Rogue Artists Ensemble, and the LGBTQ Center of Los Angeles.

She has worked on multiple projects with Meow Wolf and was a member of The Geffen Writers’ Room. She was honored as a recipient of the 2020/21 PLAY LA Stage Raw/Humanitas Prize and has been a finalist for the Relentless Award, the O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference, a 2x finalist (one honorable mention) for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and a finalist for the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference. Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, a piece she co-wrote with Chelsea Sutton, was nominated for 7 LA Ovation Awards, including Best Production (winner of 5).

Dring’s work has been developed/produced by The New Group, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Circle X, SCF @ Son of Semele, Playwrights’ Arena, Rogue Artists Ensemble, UCSB Launch Pad Series, CalArts, The Motor Company, Theatre of NOTE and Skylight Theatre. They have been awarded fellowships at MacDowell, Blue Mountain Center, and Yaddo. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California and was awarded the 2021 Dorothy and Granville Hicks Residency at Yaddo, which honors one promising young writer a year.

Ma-Yi also announced the 2024 Ma-Yi Writers Lab cohort, a collective of AANHPI playwrights in the country. Founded in 2004 by Sung Rno in connection with the TCG/NEA residency program, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is a professional peer-based workshop in permanent residence at Ma-Yi, designed to nurture and showcase Asian-American playwrights nationwide.

The six new members of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab are Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, Katelynn Kenney, Ankita Raturi, Ren Dara Santiago, Minghao Tu, and Liqing Xu who join legacy members Naveen Bahar Choudhury, Mia Chung, and Maureen Sebastian.

The Tow Foundation Playwright Residency is awarded to New York City theaters to support and present the work of a pre-selected playwright. The award integrates the selected playwright into the theater’s day-to-day operations. It includes full-time salary and benefits, allowing each playwright to gain experience and insight into all aspects of the nonprofit theater world. Sponsoring theater companies commit to a total production of the playwright’s play.

Founded in 1989, Ma-Yi Theater Company is a professional, off-Broadway, not-for-profit organization that has won Drama Desk, Lortel, and Obie Awards. Its primary mission is to develop and produce new and innovative plays by Asian American writers.

Its numerous acclaimed productions include Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady, Daniel K. Issac’s ONCE UPON A (korean) TIME, Hansol Jung’s Wolf Play, and Lisa Sanaye Dring’s SUMO. Other productions include Mike Lew’s Teenage Dick and Bike America, Qui Nguyen’s The Inexplicable Redemption of Agent G and Soul Samurai (with Vampire Cowboys), Rescue Me by Michi Barall, and Lonnie Carter’s The Romance of Magno Rubio.

–With Jay Domingo/PDM

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