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Play Lab: Serving the Community of Writers in the Delaware Valley

The Passage Theatre Play Lab is a group of New Jersey writers who meet regularly throughout the year under the auspices of Passage Theatre to read and critique each others' work. These meetings lead to a public festival of readings or one acts at Passage Theatre's Mill Hill Playhouse, which gives the writers a chance to see the work they've been developing throughout the year realized in front of a live audience.

Passage patrons have seen the work of Lab members on the mainstage with David Lee White's Blood: A Comedy (2009), Slippery as Sin (2012), James J. Christy's Love and Communication (2010), and R.N. Sandberg's Roundelay (2013).

The Passage Theatre Play Lab has a limited membership. Writers interested in becoming a future member should contact David Lee White at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Please attach a resume and writing sample. Current members include:

Sonya Aronowitz's (Newtown, PA) full-length plays include: Death of the Sun (InterAct Theatre Philadelphia/National New Play Festival) and Generation Games (reading at Passage). Short plays include The Marvin Party; The Secret Life of Gefilte Fish; Animal Crackers; Square Roots (Passage Theatre). The Devil of the Beltway (reading, To the Wall Productions, Philadelphia). Texts for dance/multi-media performance: The MakeOver; Peter's Box; Wallflowers; The Last Barbarian at Hadrian's Wall Café (under a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in collaboration with Connections Dance Theatre; produced at Princeton University and Rider University). She recently made her public debut as a poet (D&R Greenway). Sonya's writing has appeared in the New York Times, as well as other newspapers and national and international magazines. Shealso enjoys spending her days writing about thejoys of gift planning for Princeton University's alumni and friends

Ian August (Highland Park, NJ) is an actor, playwright and lyricist.  Full-lengths include: Donna Orbits the Moon (Utah Contemporary Theatre; 2011 Barbour Memorial Playwriting Award winner; to be produced at NJ Repertory Company in Sept); Missing Celia Rose (2005 Princess Grace Award semi-finalist; showcased 2007 NYC Summer Play Festival and Orlando Shakespeare Theatre’s “Playfest – 2009;” produced in Hamilton, Bermuda); Natural History, (2009 NY International Fringe Festival);  For Mother's Song (Heiress Productions' New Play Series Award winner, 2009); and Submitted by C. Randall McCloskey (premiering at the 2011 NY International Fringe Festival).  Mr. August was a winner of the 31st Annual Samuel French Inc. Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival with his play, Le Supermarché or What I Did for Lunch.  Mr. August is currently working on a novel called And With Gills. He is one of the founding members of the Passage Playwrights Lab, developed through the Passage Theater.  His work has been published by Samuel French, Inc., the One Act Play Depot and Smith and Kraus Publishing.

James Christy's (Princeton, NJ) first full-length play Never Tell was produced by Broken Watch Theatre Company in August 2006 and was published by Playscripts Inc. in April 2007. His play Put Them Away was read at Access Theater in October, 2008 with a cast led by Tony-winner Cady Huffman and directed by Hal Brooks. A third full-length, Love and Communication, will be produced as part of University of Northern Kentucky's YES Festival in March 2009. James' short play Creep won the Actors Theater of Louisville's Heideman Award for best short play, and was published in anthologies by Samuel French and Smith and Kraus. He has since been a finalist for the Heideman four times, including in 2008 for The Ride.

Karuna Lynne Elson (Cranbury, NJ) is an award-winning playwright. Her plays have been produced in New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles and Nebraska. Five of her short plays were produced in the past few years at Passage Theatre including Crazy, Crazy on You which has had success in readings and an upcoming performance in the Philly Fringe. Her one-act play Stolen Glorie (now the full-length Stolen) was the winner of the Great Platte River Playwrights Festival of 2001. Her plays have also been published by Meriwether and Playscripts, Inc. in 2008. Karuna is still paying off her graduate student loan in Playwriting from USC by teaching theatre to junior high and Yoga to adults. When she’s not working she is walking her new furry baby, Harrison with husband Jason.

Hope Gatto (Yardville, NJ) is an award-winning comedy writer andplaywright whose work has been performed across the United States and published by Dramatic Publishing, Inc. She is also the author of Saintly Support: A Prayer for Every Problem (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2003). Her humorous essays have been published by The Trenton Times, Brain, Child: A Magazine for Thinking Mothers, The Imperfect Parent, The Fisherman, MotherVerse: A Journal of Contemporary Motherhood, and Mothering Magazine. Gatto was a stand-up comedienne beforebecoming a Dramatic Arts teacherat various middle schools in Trenton, and has been involved in the State Street Project at Passage since 1998. Gatto is a founding member of Stage One, Passage Theatre's Playwrights Lab, and is a member of the Dramatist's Guild. She also makes a mean Bloody Mary.

Jackie GoldfingerJacqueline Goldfinger (Philadelphia, PA) is an award-winning playwright from Tallahassee, Florida. Her play Slip/Shot was recently nominated for the Weissberger Award and developed at PlayPenn. It will world premiere at Flashpoint Theatre in Philadelphia in the spring of 2012. She is currently a semi-finalist for the Haas Award for Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist. Her other full-length plays include the terrible girls (Azuka Theatre, Moxie Theatre, NYFringe), The Oath (Theatre Exile, Off-Off Broadway Maieutic Theatre Works, Penobscot Theatre), and The Burning Season (Winner of the National Plays for the 21st Century Competition). Her short play, His Last Fight, was published in the collection "The Best 10-Minute Plays of 2010." Her commissioned adaptations include Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins (Gas & Electric Arts), Little Women (North Coast Repertory Theatre), A Christmas Carol (North Coast Repertory Theatre), and The Ghost’s Bargain (Playscripts). She has been a finalist/semi-finalist for New Dramatists, O’Neill Theater Center Playwrights Conference, Seven Devils Theatre Conference, Next Generation Playwrights Award, and the Stone New Play Award. She is a Senior Lecturer in Theater at the University of the Arts and a freelance dramaturg. Her work has been published by Playscripts and Smith & Krauss. Visit her online at:

Peter Gruen (Lawrenceville, NJ) has been writing plays seriously for many years. Just Dessert was produced in Pittsburgh. It's a one-act musical; Peter wrote the book and the lyrics and Steven Strekansky wrote the music. For Anne was produced in New York as part of the Off-Off Broadway Play Festival and it was published by Samuel French. The play is still in print and it has been produced all over the country and in Canada. The Beauty of the World was produced in Brockport, New York and then went on to Budapest and Debrecin, Hungary with the same creative team. Peter is also an Adjunct Professor of Classical Studies at the College of New Jersey. He is married; he has two children. He loves the theater.

Midge GuerreraMidge Guerrera (Belle Meade, NJ) is a playwright, director and actor. She was the host/principle talent of the Emmy Award Winning children’s show, Around and About New Jersey and has performed in numerous television and theatrical productions. Her play E-mail: 9/12 is being produced this September by the Project Rushmore Theatre Company (NYC), AND Company Theatre (Philadelphia), Union County Performing Arts Center & Alliance Repertory Theatre (NJ), Black Box Theater of Asbury Park (NJ), and Somerset Valley Players (NJ). A specialist in developing venue specific and historic plays, Midge has written and directed such works as: Ruth St. Denis: The Dance Continues (commissioned by Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission); Turnabout (commissioned by Millstone Historic Society); Transitions (commissioned by the Somerset County Bi-Centennial Commission); Crane Chronicles, (commissioned by the Stephen Crane House); and the Stephen Crane: The Middle Years (commissioned by the Stephen Crane House for production in the author’s home). Awards include: Presidents Commendation from the American Alliance for Theatre & Education, Governor’s Award New Jersey Outstanding Educational Administrator; Woman of Achievement in Monmouth County by the Monmouth County Advisory Commission on the Status of Woman and Outstanding Women in Business and Industry from Somerset County Chamber of Commerce. Midge Guerrera, a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, is represented by the Guerrera Huber Group LLC


Chris Kess (Trenton, NJ) is a past honoree in the 19th Annual WMAR-TV/Arena Players Drama Competition. Since that time, he has written a novel, several short and full-length plays and published several poems and commentary pieces online. He has also studied acting at St. Mary's College of MD.

EM-Lewis-playwright90EM Lewis (Princeton, NJ) won the 2009 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award from the American Theater Critics Association for her play SONG OF EXTINCTION, which premiered in Los Angeles, produced by Moving Arts at [Inside] the Ford. The play also won the Ashland New Plays Festival, University of Oregon’s EcoDrama Festival, the Ted Schmitt Award for the premiere of an outstanding new play from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, and Production of the Year from the LA Weekly Awards.  Lewis is a member of Moving Arts Theater Company, the Dramatists Guild, the International Centre for Women Playwrights and the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. She is originally from Oregon, lived in Los Angeles, California for quite a while, and is now in New Jersey, writing full time on a 2010-2011 Hodder Fellowship in playwriting at Princeton University, where she is working to finish MAGELLANICA: A NEW AND ACCURATE MAP OF THE WORLD.

R.N. Sandberg's (Princeton, NJ) plays have been seen in Australia, Canada, England, Japan, Panama, and South Korea as well as throughout the U.S., with productions and staged readings presented by theaters such ART, Barrow Group, Barter Theatre, Indiana Rep, Intiman, Kennedy Center, La Mama, New York Music Theatre Festival, Providence Black Rep, Provincetown Playhouse, and Seattle Rep. He has been commissioned by among others McCarter, Metro Theater, Seattle Children’s Theatre and George Street Playhouse, which currently tours his IRL. His Can’t Believe It won a Bonderman national playwriting award. His plays are published by Dramatic and Playscripts and include Anne of Green Gables, Convivencia, Done, Frankenstein, In Between, Jarpteetza/The Firebird, A Little Princess, Martina: Lost and Found (originally Frankenstein’s Children), The Moonstone, The Odyssey, and Sara Crewe. Sandberg teaches playwriting, acting, and dramatic literature at Princeton University and is a member of the Philadelphia Dramatists Center.

piawilson90Pia N. Wilson (Montclair, NJ) received a 2009 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She is a member of the 2009 Project Footlight team of composers and librettists and a member of the 2008 inaugural Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater. Pia is also a 2009 resident in the Women's Work Lab at New Perspectives Theatre. Her full-length drama, Red Rooster, was a part of The Classical Theatre of Harlem's Future Classics reading series as well as the Emerging Writers Spotlight Series at The Public Theater. All the Pretty Girls was featured in The Looking Glass Theatre's Spring 2009 Writer/Director Forum. The River Pure for Healing was part of the 2008 Resilience of the Spirit play festival. Her play, Tree of Life, received a 2007 workshop production at The Red Room Theater.