Makers Lab

Makers Lab provides a dynamic group of generative theater artists with individually tailored residencies designed to holistically support their careers and develop their new works. Working in a range of category-defying forms and disciplines, these artists, collaborators and companies use Ars Nova as a home base for twelve-month creative residencies. Through a wide range of development tools, institutional resources and hands-on artistic support, Makers Lab residents are encouraged to think big, take risks and push their creative potential as they make work under our roof.


MANIK CHOKSI Broadway: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Off-Broadway: Indian Ink, Roundabout; Bunty Berman Presents (Lortel Nomination), New Group; Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Ars Nova; God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Encores!; King Tot and DDeb, Debbie, Deborah; Clubbed Thumb; Huck & Holden, Cherry Lane. Regional: Moby Dick and Moby Dick, ART. Film/TV: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”; “New Amsterdam”; “Good Fight”; “Mindhunter”; “Elementary”; “Happyish”; “One Life To Live” (Vimal Patel), HomePassing Season.  Composer: Those Lost Boys (workshop); Food Odyssey, 3LD. Education: The Juilliard School.

ZI ALIKHAN is a queer, South Asian-American, culturally Muslim theatre director. Born to two immigrants from India, Zi grew up in Northern California and went to UC Berkeley to study Sociology before transferring to NYU to finish a degree in Musical Theatre (the immigrant parents were thrilled). In the decade that’s followed, Zi has been able to make work throughout the city and across the US, most notably Shabash! starring Danny Pudi and Parvesh Cheena, the first time a company of majority South Asian performers and writers took the stage at Lincoln Center, and an acclaimed reimagining of Ragtime at Playmakers Rep in North Carolina. Additionally, he has developed new plays at Playwrights Horizons, New York Stage and Film, Keen Company and The Lark, and HAS guest directed at Juilliard, NYU and Yale. Zi was the Associate Director of the Broadway companies of Six Degrees of Separation and The Rose Tattoo and the national tours of Hamilton and The Band’s Visit. Fellowships and residencies include The Drama League Director’s Project, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Williamstown and MTC. Zi is on faculty at Pace University.

GUADALÍS DEL CARMEN is a playwright, actor and Co-Artistic Director of the Latinx Playwrights Circle in residence at Primary Stages. She’s an Ars Nova Resident Artist and Artistic Associate of Black Lives Black Words. Her plays include Bees and Honey (Kilroys 2019, 50 Playwrights Project List of Unproduced Latinx Plays 2019), My Father’s Keeper (Steppenwolf Theater’s The Mix List 2019), A Shero’s Journey or What Anacaona and Yemayá Taught Me… (Parsnip Ship Season Four, Theater Magazine Issue 49), Not For Sale (UrbanTheater Company Chicago 2018, Jeff Award Nominee 2019), Daughters of the Rebellion (Montclair State University New Works Initiative 2019) and Blowout (Aguijón Theater 2013). As an actor, she’s performed in various independent films and commercials and has worked with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, UrbanTheater Company, Aguijón Theater, Victory Gardens and LATEA.

DAVID MENDIZÁBAL is a director, designer and one of the Producing Artistic Leaders of the Obie Award winning The Movement Theatre Company. He is also the Associate Artistic Director of The Sol Project. Select directing credits include: Don’t Eat the Mangos (Magic Theatre/Sundance), On The Grounds of Belonging (Long Wharf), the bandaged place (NYSAF), Then They Forgot About The Rest (INTAR), The Maturation of an Inconvenient Negro, or iNegro (Cherry Lane Mentor Project), And She Would Stand Like ThisLook Upon Our Lowliness and Bintou (The Movement), and Tell Hector I Miss Him (Atlantic / Drama League Nomination). Member of Latinx Theatre Commons Steering Committee. Alumnus of Drama League, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, NALAC, & artEquity. BFA NYU/Tisch.

JOÉL PERÉZ is an award-winning performer and writer living in NYC. As an actor, his theater work includes Fun Home (Broadway and The Public Theater), Kiss My Aztec! (Berkeley Rep and La Jolla Playhouse), Sweet Charity (New Group; Lucille Lortel Award Winner for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical), Oedipus El Rey (Public Theater), Raw Bacon From Poland (Abrons Art Center), As You Like It (Public Theater Public Works) as well as national and international tours of In the Heights and Fame. His TV work includes Person of Interest (CBS), Odd Mom Out (Bravo), The Big C (Showtime), The Outs (Vimeo) and Black Box (ABC). He is an ensemble member of Broken Box Mime Theater. He studied at Tufts University, The British American Drama Academy and Upright Citizen’s Brigade. As a writer, his play, The Church of the Holy Glory, premiered at Ars Nova as a part of ANT Fest 2018. He writes and performs in SHIZ and Peach, monthly sketch shows at UCB. He has participated in the Actors Who Write Fellowship at Rattlestick Theater Company and is a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Playwriting from The New York Foundation for the Arts. @misterjoelperez

EMMA RAMOS is a bi-lingual Mexican actress, comedian and sketch comedy writer, who has been called “A revelation, linguistically acrobatic, and piercingly funny” by NY Magazine. Her sketch series B.U.T.S. won Best Comedy at NBCUniversal Short Film Festival AND was nominated twice for the Imagen Awards; the Spanish Class episode alone has millions of views on YouTube and Facebook. Co-creator of anthology series Dichos, a NALIP Official Selection. Emma’s TV credits include Law & Order: SVU for NBC, Unforgettable for CBS, Valentina for HBO, Marisol for HBO (nominated for “Best Actress” next to Olivia Thirlby and Jennifer Morrison) and New Amsterdam for NBC. Semi-Finalist for Sundance’s New Voices. Acting Company for Sundance Institute 2017. Official selection for the 2018 HBO New York Latino Film Festival with Exeunt and this year with Seneca. Recipient of the UCB Diversity Fellowship. Writer and Performer for FLAMA (Latinx Funny or Die) and Broadway Video’s Mas Mejor. Recipient of the Ruth and Harold Newman Scholarship for excellence in acting. Member of The Actors Center. Emma is in the development of a half-hour comedy series called Hangry XVñera.

LAURA GALINDO is an artist of many hats who enjoys testing how many of these hats can balance on top of her head at once. This past summer, she and her band debuted Annie Aspen’s Musical Space Spectacular! at Ars Nova’s ANT Fest. She is a Victory Theatre LabWorks resident for the 2019-2020 season. Her band, Laura Galindo and The Boys, plays regularly around NYC and her EP Tastes Like Dreams is available on all platforms. She also loves to act, using the chops she got from her fresh BFA Drama degree at NYU. Basically, she’ll try anything once and almost always just keeps doing it. She’s cooking up new things, all of which can be tasted at @thelauragalindo on Instagram and a website which she’ll eventually make.

makes big, funny, strange, spooky, formally experimental plays that push the boundaries of storytelling in order to make unique, meaningful connections with audiences. They’ve made a live, immersive alien movie about becoming a better person (Alien Nation at The Paradise Factory); created a town in a theater, complete with city council meetings and a community pancake breakfast cooked on-stage (Providence, RI at The Tank’s Flint & Tinder series); and played a fictionally autobiographical rock concert about an artists’ residency in a haunted, foreclosed house in Detroit (Thank You Sorry at Ars Nova). Their show Apathy Boy was an O’Neill finalist, and they’ve developed additional work at Pipeline Theatre, Ice Factory at the New Ohio, The Flea, The Brick and Fresh Ground Pepper. Skylar Fox and Simon Henriques are the co-artistic directors of Nightdrive; Jenny Gorelick is its executive producer. @nightdriveplays

MICHELLE J. RODRIGUEZ is a vocalist, songwriter, musical theater composer and actor. Born in Orlando, Florida to Puerto Rican parents and raised in Kirkland, Washington and Lexington, Kentucky, Ms. Rodriguez sings and writes songs that shake your heart and remind you of home in all its forms. With a voice that is “clear and compelling” and a sound that features “flourishes of bolero, bossa nova and even jazz” (Chicago Tribune), Ms. Rodriguez captivates as a performer at venues like Joe’s Pub (NYC), Ars Nova (NYC), The Hideout (Chicago) and Steppenwolf (Chicago) with her stunning vocals and vulnerability onstage.

Ms. Rodriguez made her Joe’s Pub début at the Public Theater in November of 2017 after a sold-out performance of her original musical, East o’, West o’! at ANT Fest at Ars Nova in June of 2017, which earned her a mention in The New Yorker. Beloved by NPR’s All Songs Considered team, her music project MICHA became a finalist for NPR’s 2018 Tiny Desk Contest with her song “Nena Nena Nena,” praised for a “bilingual set spanned laid-back southern soul and Latin pop flare” (NPR). She has received support from Ars Nova, New York Theater Workshop, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts and the University of Chicago. Musicals include East o’, West o’! (Ars Nova/ANT Fest) and works in development Jiran, Bibliophile and Rokera. Ms. Rodriguez recently made her Public Theater début composing the music for The Mobile Unit’s production of The Tempest directed by Laurie Woolery, and she is currently under commission by the Public Theater for a new musical for their Mobile Unit program. B.A. Williams College.

JILLIAN WALKER is a multi-faceted artist and thinker who is shaping culture through interdisciplinary forms of performance. Her genre-pushing work SKiNFoLK: An American Show has appeared in the Starr Reading Series, ANT Fest at Ars Nova and the inaugural SPARK Festival for new small musicals at Pittsburgh CLO. Her play Sarah’s Salt. has received developmental support from Roundabout Theater Company and MCC Theater, and was chosen as an Honorable Mention for the 2017 Relentless Award (American Playwriting Foundation). With dramaturgy as the core of her artistic practice, Jillian is theatermaker as archaeologist. She investigates the processes and workings of time, ritual, identity and structure to unearth the ways theatrical forms can impact the larger cultural landscape. Through her residency at University Musical Society (University of Michigan), she researched her new play, Tignon, and a lecture/performance work, Songs of Speculation, which premiered at JACK in November 2018. Jillian was recently commissioned to create brand-new work for the critically-acclaimed Soho Rep. and holds an MFA in Dramaturgy from Columbia University.