Instructors and Mentors

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Owen Robertson (Lead Instructor) is the executive producer and founder of LAB Theater Project. He has over thirty years experience working in regional theater from Washington D.C. to Central Florida. He is a true theater generalist and has spent those thirty years as an actor, director, designer, playwright, and producer. He has written several full length plays which have had productions with LAB Theater Project (TOBY'S GAME and SO LONG LIFE). He received his training as an actor and director at George Mason University and The Washington Shakespeare Theatre. He has a BA in English from Saint Leo University with a focus in Dramaturgy. His MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen is from The New Hampshire Institute of Art. Currently, he is a doctoral student at the University of South Florida pursuing an Ed.D. in Educational Innovation. 

Ben Bartolone (Mentor) is the Artistic Director of KEF Theater Productions in New York City.  Through KEF he has created and curated THE BLUESTONE PROJECT, a reading series on a mission to bring more empathy to a divided nation by producing new work from across the actual nation, written and directed by people who strive to reflect the fabric of our actual nation.  He is also an accomplished playwright, actor, director, and producer. 
 

Wendy Graf (Mentor) is an award winning playwright whose plays have been produced throughout the country and internationally. Recent plays include: EXIT WOUNDS (Gold Medallion 1st place winner Moss Hart and Kitty Carlisle New Play Initiative); UNEMPLOYED ELEPHANTS - A LOVE STORY (Stage Raw Recommended Top Ten; L.A. Times Pick of the Week, multiple Critics Choice) PLEASE DON’T ASK ABOUT BECKET (prod 7-9/16 "Graf’s emotionally astute drama peels away layers of pathology with surgical skill”-Los Angeles Times); ALL AMERICAN GIRL (Stage Raw Recommended Top Ten/2015 nom Playwriting and Solo performance; LA Times Pick of the Week; LA Weekly “GO!” StageSceneLA 2015 Outstanding Solo Performance Production; Bitter Lemons 2015 Ten Best); CLOSELY RELATED KEYS (dir by Shirley Jo Finney; NAACP win/nominations); NO WORD IN GUYANESE FOR ME (2012 GLAAD Award Outstanding L.A. Theater, HELEN HAYES AWARDS Recommended); BEHIND THE GATES; LESSONS (L.A. production dir by Gordon Davidson); LEIPZIG (LADCC nomination; Garland award/Playwriting; Dorothy Silver finalist); THE BOOK OF ESTHER (San Fernando Valley Artistic Directors nominations including Best Play; ASK Theater Projects Grant Award); BETHANY/BAKOL (Attic Theater One Act Winner, produced September 2009)and her newest, A SHONDA and WEDNESDAY’S CHILD

 

Recent Honors

 “Playwright Wendy Graf Named Gold Medallion Winner by The Moss Hart & Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative." The first recipient of the Gold Medallion is EXIT WOUNDS, selected out of 1,243 submissions from 44 states and 5 countries.​

 

Now available in paperback from Original Works  Publishing (www.originalworksonline.com): Unemployed Elephants - A Love Story

Recent Award Winning short plays 

SOPHIE/ALEXANDER/LISBOA; ASHES TO ASHES; A HOLLYWOOD FABLE; LESTER AND SCHLOSS; REPORTS OF MY DEATH HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED; A SHONDA; RED AND BLUE.  

Sarah Lawrence (Mentor) has written a number of award-winning stage plays and books. She completed her M.F.A. in Writing for Stage and Screen in 2016 from the New Hampshire Institute of Art and since then has developed several projects earning accolades and productions.

  • Gimme Shelter, a full-length stageplay about an overnight homeless shelter in Texas, was recently completed in June, 2021.

  • Yellow Rose, a big-ass Texas musical currently in development, recently earned a substantial development grant from the City of Dallas.

  • Bibo and Bertie, about the last years of Albert Einstein, was produced as a workshop production at Lab Theatre in Tampa in March, 2018. An early draft placed in the Top 10 in the Stanley Drama Competition. It received a ZOOM production by the Public Theater in San Antonio in July, 2020 and was scheduled for another 2020 production postponed by COVID.

  • Duende: Recuerdos de Flamenco, was chosen for a residency by the Good to Go Festival and the HBMG Foundation. It was a recent finalist in the Julie Harris Competition and is scheduled for a workshop production when productions resume. It won Best Play in the Moondance Film Festival in 2020. A production at Lab Theater in Tampa was postponed.

  • Liberty (stage play version) won second place in the Book Pipeline Competition in 2017. It is currently being developed as a screenplay. Liberty won the Southern Playwrights Competition and was produced at the Kennedy Center as a finalist in the ACTF Competition. It was a semifinalist at the Austin Film Festival and O’Neill Competition in 2018. 

  • All Ye Who Enter Here ran in November 2014 at the historic Soho Playhouse in New York.

In Dallas, she founded and served as Executive Director of the Playwrights Project, a regional play development organization. Lawrence is also the author of books and articles, including Entrepreneurship: Building the American Dream (West Educational Publishing) and 50 Great Business Ideas for Teens (Simon & Schuster/Arco). 

Lawrence served in management positions at Rockwell International and Peat, Marwick and Mitchell. Her teaching experience includes teaching in graduate programs at the Universities of Iowa, Texas, and Hong Kong. In February 2018, she was honored as the Artist of the Year at the Richardson Arts Alliance Gala. In her spare time, she enjoys being a performing musician and plays the pipe organ, piano and harp.

 

See my works on the New Play Exchange