Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew at Ma-Yi Theater Company
Rehana Lew Mirza was recently awarded a 2020 Kleban Award with her husband Mike Lew for most promising librettist. They have written the book to the musical Bhangin’ It (with composer/lyricist Sam Willmott), which was adapted from her original screenplay. The musical received the Richard Rodgers Award and is tentatively scheduled to premiere at La Jolla Playhouse and McCarter Theater in 2021(?!). Her plays include: Hatefuck (WP/Colt Coeur); A People’s Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now (Primary Stages Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation's Women Playwrights Commission; AADA workshop production); Soldier X (Ma-Yi; Brooklyn College; NYSCA/Lark commission); Tomorrow, Inshallah (Living Room Theater, Kansas City; Storyworks/HuffPost commission); Lonely Leela (LPAC workshop production); Neighborhood Watch (NNPN/InterAct commission); and Barriers (Desipina, Asian American Theater Company.) Additional Awards/Honors include: Mellon Foundation National Playwright residency administered in partnership with Howlround at Ma-Yi Theater; NYFA Fellowship; HBO Access Fellow; Lilly Award (Stacey Mindich “Go Write A Play”), E.S.T. Sloan commission, and a TCG/New Georges Fellowship. BFA: NYU, Dramatic Writing; MFA: Columbia University, Playwriting.
Mike Lew’s plays include Teenage Dick (Donmar Warehouse, Ma-Yi at the Public, and Artists Rep productions; Public Studio, O’Neill, OSF workshops), Tiger Style! (Olney, Huntington, La Jolla Playhouse, and Alliance productions; O’Neill and CTG workshops), Bike America (Ma-Yi and Alliance productions), microcrisis (Ma-Yi, InterAct, and Next Act productions), Moustache Guys, and the book to the musical Bhangin’ It (Richard Rodgers Award; La Jolla Playhouse, Ma-Yi, Project Springboard and Rhinebeck Writers Retreat "Triple R" workshops). He is a Tony voter, Dramatists Guild Council member, and resident of New Dramatists. He is a Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Ma-Yi and former La Jolla Playhouse Artist-in-Residence (both with Rehana Lew Mirza). Honors include Lark Venturous and NYFA fellowships and the PEN Emerging Playwright, Lanford Wilson, Helen Merrill, Heideman, and Kendeda awards. He is former co-director of Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the largest collective of Asian-American playwrights in the country. He is married to fellow playwright Rehana Lew Mirza, who he met in Ma-Yi Lab. Training: Juilliard, Yale
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.
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.