Meet the Labbies: DON NGUYEN
Founded in 2004, the Ma-Yi Writers Lab is the largest resident company of Asian-American playwrights ever assembled. We reached out to a few of the members to learn more about the artists that are shaping the landscape of theatre for Asians.
Meet Don Nguyen.
Don’s work has been developed or produced across the nation from The Bay Area Playwrights Festival to The Public Theater. Don is a proud member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group, The Civilians inaugural R&D Group, the 52nd Street Project, and a co-founder of Mission to (dit)Mars, a Queens based theatre arts collective.
Ma-Yi Theater Company: Who are you?
Don Nguyen: I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Nebraska, and currently reside in New York. I used to run my own theater company in Omaha while holding down a full time job as a defense contractor where I wrote top secret code for the military, notably the US Army and the Department of Defense. I’m now a playwright, but I’m also a closet inventor. I have stacks of notepads full of sketches for things like sustainable and portable housing for the homeless, airline cabin configurations designed for maximum arm and leg room, and jetpacks to make MTA commutes obsolete. All of this is true.
MYTC: What play(s) are you currently working on?
DN: I’m currently working on two plays, a first draft of HELLO, FROM THE CHILDREN OF PLANET EARTH about sperm donorship and interstellar space travel and rewrite of THE SUPREME LEADER, which is a coming of age story about Kim Jong-Un and his school days in Switzerland. The first play is seriously hilarious and the second play is hilariously serious. In my mind.
MYTC: What makes you angry?
DN: Slow people in front of me buried in their phones. Every time I encounter this type of person, I get this uncontrollable desire to slap the phone out of their hands and run away. But then I think maybe they’ve received some awful news like a break up text or cancer and then I feel bad. But it still makes me ANGRY!
MYTC: What makes you happy?
DN: Treehouse Masters on the Discovery Channel.
MYTC: Why do you write plays?
DN: I ask myself this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY
MYTC: Are there any upcoming readings, workshops, and/or productions of your work coming up? Tell us when and where!
DN: My play SOUND had its world premiere on September 11th in Seattle by Azeotrope Theatre in partnership with ACTLab. More info here: http://www.acttheatre.org/Tickets/OnStage/Sound
I’ll also have a reading of my newest play HELLO, FROM THE CHILDREN OF PLANET EARTH presented by The Claque on October 13th.
MYTC: Do you have a website?
Don Nguyen Full length plays include: RED FLAMBOYANT (World Premiere – Firebone Theatre Company 2015, 2015 GAP Prize Winner, Ojai Playwrights Conference, finalist – O’Neill NPC), SOUND(World Premiere – Azeotrope Theatre Company 2015, BAPF 2014, Playwrights Realm Fellowship, Civilians R&D), THE MAN FROM SAIGON (NYSAF, Naked Angels), and THE SUPREME LEADER. Don’s work has been developed or produced at The Public Theater, The Flea, Ojai Playwrights Conference, New York Stage & Film, Naked Angels, Naked Radio, The Civilians, Ma-Yi Theatre, The Playwrights Realm, The Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Joe’s Pub, The 52nd Street Project, SPACE on Ryder Farm, and Tofte Lake. Don is the recipient of the 2015 GAP Prize from the Aurora Theatre and New York Stage & Film Founder’s award and has been a finalist for The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, The Princess Grace Award, Woodward International Playwriting Prize, and New Dramatists. Nominations include: the Laurents/Hatcher award and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award. Don is a proud member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, the Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group, The Civilians inaugural R&D Group, the 52nd Street Project, and a co-founder of Mission to (dit)Mars, a Queens based theatre arts collective.