The Storyteller Studio

A Collective for Young Playwrights and Dramaturgs

Meet the 2021 Cohort

Abigail Lyon is a hopeful future dramaturg currently studying for a major in Theatre Studies with a minor in Mythology. She has a passion for stories, as well as a love for classic Disney.

Alison O’Brien is a theatre artist who graduated from Drew University. Her work is often inspired by the small, quiet moments that give a sense of magic and wonder in our day to day lives.

Alyssa Sileo is a playwright and dramaturg based in South Jersey. Her work explores sapphic identity, middle school dreams, and accompliceship to liberation. She’s a self-identified student of transformative justice and aspiring community based theatre artist.

Angel Rivas is a playwright and actor based out of Montclair, New Jersey. He is currently pursuing a BFA in Acting at Montclair State University. He has been writing for a couple years and mostly loves writing for the theatre, but wants to tackle all kinds of creative writing!

Annie Vee is a playwright and theatre artist who is constantly finding new ways to bridge the gap of sci-fi/fantasy with traditional theater. She is excited to be a part of this journey with the Storyteller Studio!

Bailee Gilbert is a 2018 Montclair State University graduate with a passion for disability and LGBTQ+ inclusion in theatre. Bailee is also very involved with the horror genre and loves to write and talk about it.

Catherine Knight-Diaz is an actor and aspiring dramaturg. Attending Montclair State University as a Theater Studies and Information Technology major, she is incredibly excited to be participating in Storyteller Studio in order to improve her skills in dramaturgy and gain a community.

Emily Solomon is a Sophomore at Drew University studying theatre arts and creative writing. She is primarily a playwright and director, specifically interested in musical theatre. Her writing focuses on sapphic representation and mental health awareness.

Erin Gruodis-Gimbel is a playwright, dramaturg, and actor. She has had work produced by Walking Shadow Readers Theater, No Exit Theater Collective, and Drew University, and has acted with No Exit Theater Collaboration, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, and Glimmer Globe Theater.

Janeena Piñero is a current graduate student at Montclair State University currently pursuing her MA in Theatre. Her roles in the theatre are primarily as an actor, director, and aspiring playwright. She enjoys tap dancing, clowning, and spoken word poetry. She hopes to mesh her many interests through her written work and Theatre for Social Change is where she’d like to see her work develop more.

Jessi Stier is a playwright who is fascinated by everyday moments and people. Her most recent credit is with Theatre Three, as part of their Offstage/Online festival. In addition to writing for physical theatre, she is eager to combine theatre and technology to tell new stories.

Lana Kurimoto is a dramaturg. She is a Theatre Studies major at Montclair State University, and she also enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry.

Liesl Eppes is a director and writer and soon to be graduate of Drew University where she has studied Theatre Arts and Spanish. She is excited to see what the future holds and is grateful to continue her creative endeavors with The Storyteller Studio.

Megan Tobias is a dramaturg, actor, and historian. She has worked for Premiere Stages as a Literary Assistant on their 2019 season and Dramaturge for the New Jersey Premiere of Yasmina’s Necklace by Rohina Malik. She continues to use her voice to elevate others and tell stories that aren’t told enough.

Rachel Mueller is a dramaturg, writer, and arts administrator attending the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Last spring, she studied away at Montclair State University. Interests include nonfiction, verbatim theatre, and really stupid jokes.

Sanjida Chowdhury is an actor and writer. Recently, she has received her Masters in Theatre from Montclair State University. Before that, she obtained an English degree with a concentration in Creative Writing from Rutgers University.

Why the Studio?

Playwriting and Dramaturgy could be considered the backbone of theatre. Yet, there are often gaps in learned experience in these disciplines. Student playwrights in a university setting often leave without the chance to fully explore their work off the page, and student dramaturgs often fall through the cracks of curriculum and production opportunities. Young artists who have forgone higher education face numerous barriers to artistic development, and artists at an entry-level point in their careers often do not have a support network of peers who share their goals and skills. In essence, playwrights and dramaturgs often tread a lonely road, lacking a sense of cohesion or structure.

With these challenges in mind, The New Jersey Play Lab is building upon its mission of fostering the creation of dramaturgically sound new work in the Garden State, by providing a space for young writers and dramaturgs to further develop and hone their skills. With The Storyteller Studio, The New Jersey Play Lab seeks to cultivate the next generation of playwrights and dramaturgs dedicated to the craft of storytelling.


The Storyteller Studio is a collaborative space to work, play, and grow: a community network of like-minded young playwrights and dramaturgs seeking to hone their craft through peer and professional support and to connect socially.


Artists collaborating in the Storyteller Studio (a cohort) meet virtually 3-4 times per month, over the course of 10 months. The process is guided by an experienced mentor.

At the majority of the monthly meetings, artists in the cohort present their work and receive feedback from their peers. At one meeting per month, the cohort engages with a visiting professional artist around ideas and issues important and exciting to the needs of the cohort. Scheduling will be determined according to the participating artists’ availability

Playwrights’ presentations can take the form of a reading of a play or play except (professional actors will be brought in to read the work). A dramaturgical presentation can take the form of a “pitch” presentation of a dream play, an examination of a new play in progress, audience engagement concept, or more.

But these are just ideas. Everything is open! The Storyteller Studio has been conceived and designed for the cohort to be able to create and tailor the program to their needs.

*Once it’s safe to meet up in person, we can explore a hybrid model of in-person and virtual


The Storyteller Studio is a no-cost opportunity for young writers + dramaturgs early on in their artistic lives who want to dive headfirst into their craft, creating alongside a group of their peers, while being guided by experienced mentors.

You may have some professional experience, you may have gone through theatre training, you may have done nothing except create for yourself at home! Wherever you’re at, as long as you’re passionate about your artistry, we welcome you.

The Storyteller Studio is for you if:

  • You consider yourself a playwright or dramaturg, or you have a strong interest in doing those things.
  • You’re interested in exploring your work, building your craft, connecting with peers, and synthesizing learning from a group of professionals.
  • You thrive in a supportive group of artists your own age, and also welcome the support of more experienced pros.
  • You are open to giving and receiving feedback about your work.
  • You are organized and can keep self-imposed deadlines.
  • You are in a place in your life where you are able to commit to a 10-month process.
  • You’re 18-25 years old.
  • You call NJ your home.


It’s super simple: just contact Emily ( to set up a brief interview! There is no submission requirement to participate — we just want to make sure the Studio will be a good match for you. You can also reach out if you have questions or if you’d like more info!

Please note that the 2021 Cohort is full at this time.

If you can’t commit to the timeframe right now, join as an Observer.
Observers can access most of our Studio opportunities, just with a different level of commitment. Contact Emily to chat about what this could look like for you.

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