Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew at Ma-Yi Theater Company

Playwright

Rehana Lew Mirza’s plays include: Hatefuck (productions: Colt Coeur/WP, upcoming at Round House Theater; 2017 Kilroy); A People’s Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now (workshops: AADA, PH School, Tisch; Primary Stages commission); Soldier X (productions: Ma-Yi; Brooklyn College; 2015 Kilroy; NYSCA/Lark commission); Ladybits (readings: Playwrights Workshop at the Lark, Local Lab); Neighborhood Watch (NNPN/InterAct commission); and Barriers (productions: Desipina, Asian American Theater Company). With hubby Mike Lew, she’s co-written the book to the musical Bhangin’ It (with composer/lyricist Sam Willmott) and are working on a trilogy, The Colonialism Project, which is commissioned through La Jolla Playhouse. Additional honors: NYFA Fellow, HBO Access Fellow, Colt Coeur artist residency, Lilly Award (Stacey Mindich “Go Write A Play”), and a TCG/New Georges Fellowship. MFA: Columbia University; BFA: NYU Tisch.

Mike Lew’s plays include Teenage Dick (Ma-Yi at the Public, Donmar Warehouse, Wooly Mammoth, Huntington, Artists Rep); Tiger Style! (Olney, Huntington, La Jolla Playhouse, Alliance); Bike America (Ma-Yi, Alliance); and microcrisis (Ma-Yi, InterAct, Next Act). He and Rehana Lew Mirza are joint Mellon Foundation Playwrights in Residence at Ma-Yi Theater where they are cowriting The Colonialism Trilogy in addition to the book to the musical Bhangin’ It with composer/lyricist Sam Willmott (Richard Rodgers Award; La Jolla Playhouse, Project Springboard, and Rhinebeck Writers Retreat workshops). Mike is a Dramatists Guild Council member, Tony voter, and New Dramatists resident. Honors: Lark Venturous and NYFA fellowships; PEN, Lanford Wilson, Helen Merrill, Heideman, and Kendeda awards. Education: Juilliard, Yale.

Theatre

Ma-Yi Theater Company is the country’s leading incubator of new plays by Asian American playwrights. Since its founding in 1989, it has distinguished itself as a leader in challenging popular prescriptions for what culturally specific theater should be, and as a staunch advocate for increasing the national visibility of Asian American Theater artists. Ma-Yi Theater encourages its artists to engage their communities in meaningful conversations even as they stretch themselves to stake new creative territories. The theater continues to be guided by knowing why and for whom it makes theater.

Today, Ma-Yi Theater Company is home to the Ma-Yi Writers Lab. With twenty-nine current active members, it is the largest peer-to-peer assembly of professional Asian American playwrights in the country.  In 2010, Ma-Yi Theater committed to only producing works generated by its Writers Lab.

Ma-Yi Theater Company is led by founding member and current Producing Artistic Director Ralph B. Peña, and Executive Director Jorge Z. Ortoll.

Residency Activity 

Mike and Rehana continue to use the Ma-Yi studio space as their primary collaboration place to meet with composer Sam Willmott on their co-written musical Bhangin’ It. The project recently won the 2019 Richard Rodgers Studio Award, and had a three-week workshop presented by La Jolla Playhouse and Rodgers Foundation in association with Ma-Yi.  After prior workshops with Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Goodspeed, and Project Springboard (a dance workshop through the Jerome Robbins Foundation), Bhangin’ It is currently projected to have its world premiere in 2021. Mike and Rehana also continue work on their co-written trilogy about British colonialism, a commission from La Jolla Playhouse. After a read of all three plays at The Lark’s Studio Retreat in the Fall 2018, they are now focusing on creating songs for Play Two of the trilogy and workshopping the entirety once more. Currently Mike is in pre-production for the London premiere of Teenage Dick at the Donmar, following its highly lauded world premiere with Ma-Yi Theater at the Public in June-July 2018. The play has been published with DPS and will be at Wooly Mammoth and The Huntington later in 2020. Rehana’s play Hatef*ck, written in residence, had its world premiere at WP Theater in March 2018, and will have a subsequent production at Round House Theater in Summer 2020. The other play she wrote during residency, A People’s Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now, had a workshop production through AADA and will have a reading at Primary Stages this Fall 2019 after having been commissioned there.

How has this residency changed the theatre, and how has this residency changed the playwright? — March 2018

More from the Residency

Ralph Peña.
SEGAL TALKS: Ralph B. Peña
Video

SEGAL TALKS: Ralph B. Peña

An update on the situation for theatre artists in New York City

Tuesday 2 June 2020
New York City

The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center presented SEGAL TALKS: Ralph B. Peña livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Tuesday 2 June 2020 at 9 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 11 a.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 12 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 17:00 BST (London, UTC+1) / 18:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC+2).

Conversation about Mike Lew's Tiger Style! with Ma-Yi Writers Lab Members at Huntington Theatre Company
Video

Conversation about Mike Lew's Tiger Style! with Ma-Yi Writers Lab Members at Huntington Theatre Company

Sunday 16 October 2016
Boston, MA, United States

Huntington Theatre Company in Boston presented a panel conversation about Mike Lew's Tiger Style! with Ma-Yi Writers Lab members livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv Sunday 16 October at 9 p.m. EDT (New York) / 8 p.m. CDT (Chicago) / 6 p.m. PDT (Los Angeles). Follow @HowlRoundTV on Twitter and share your thoughts with #howlround.

The Crisis in Casting for Stage and Media Panel at Emerson College
Video

The Crisis in Casting for Stage and Media Panel at Emerson College

Friday 14 October 2016
Boston, MA, United States

Emerson College presented the panel discussion The Crisis in Casting for Stage and Media livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 14 October at 12 p.m. PDT (Los Angeles)/ 1 p.m. MDT (Denver)/ 2 p.m. CDT (New Orleans)/ 3 p.m. EDT (Boston).

two actors onstage
Writing Comedy and Wielding Power
Essay

Writing Comedy and Wielding Power

27 January 2020

Madeleine George and Mike Lew talk about writing comedy for theatre, vulnerability as playwrights, working with different aesthetics, and more.

three actors onstage
"Dream Bigger"
Essay

"Dream Bigger"

Developing Artistic Ambition as Playwrights in Residence

27 November 2019

Rehana Lew Mirza and Melinda Lopez talk being playwrights as well as actors and teachers, critiquing their own work, their individual work processes, and more.

Diversity for Dummies Part Two
Essay

Diversity for Dummies Part Two

Why The Best Intentions Sometimes Fail

9 October 2018

Director Ralph Peña writes about the importance of beginning every project from a place of inclusion, rather than relying on retroactive "diversity initiatives."

Playwright-Parents, Part One
Essay

Playwright-Parents, Part One

9 August 2017

Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew document their first year as parents and Playwrights-in-Residence at Ma-Yi. 

Diversity for Dummies
Essay

Diversity for Dummies

25 March 2017

Ralph B. Peña offers advice to those looking to diversify their theatre companies and productions.

Playwright Residency
Essay

Playwright Residency

Why Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew? Why Ma-Yi Theater Company?

30 July 2016

Ralph Peña, Producing Artistic Director of Ma-Yi Theater Company in New York City and playwrights-in-residence Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew discuss their participation in the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s National Playwright Residency Program.

History Is Not Just For The British
Essay

History Is Not Just For The British

6 October 2015

Playwright Rehana Lew Mirza argues that those who defend producing The Mikado using yellowface on the basis of its “historical significance” are supporting centuries of imperialism and oppression.

I’ll Disband My Roving Gang of Thirty Asian Playwrights When You Stop Doing Asian Plays in Yellow Face*
Essay

I’ll Disband My Roving Gang of Thirty Asian Playwrights When You Stop Doing Asian Plays in Yellow Face*

(*Exception: David Henry Hwang’s play Yellow Face)

6 October 2014

In this installment, Mike Lew discusses the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the fraught practice of yellow face, and what equity for people of color actually looks like.

Going Digital
Essay

Going Digital

How Should We Publish & License New Plays In An Online World?

17 July 2014

#RightsWeek post: While I think the databases may be useful for schools and small companies, at the highest level I question whether access to plays is really the rate-limiter behind getting more plays to production. Rather I think the dialogue between producers and playwrights is limited and opaque and inauthentic, leading to misspent efforts all around.