Laura Maria Censabella
Ms. Censabella’s play Paradise (IRNE Award Best New Play, Elliott Norton Nomination Outstanding New Script, Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Science Foundation Commission) recently made its sold-out U.S. west coast premiere in L.A. at The Odyssey Theatre (Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, producers) and premiered on the east coast at Underground Railroad/Central Square Theater in Cambridge. She then wrote the screenplay for American Oasis Films and JuVee Productions. Ms. Censabella is the recipient of the $10,000 William Saroyan Human Rights Award for her play Carla Cooks The War, three grants in Playwriting and Screenwriting from the New York Foundation for the Arts, two Daytime Emmy Awards, and a new EST/Sloan commission about Dr. Irene Pepperberg of Alex & Me fame. Other plays and musicals have been developed or produced at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays, the Women’s Project and Productions, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Portland Stage, the New Harmony Project, Gulfshore Playhouse, The Working Theatre, Luna Stage, Passage Theatre and Urban Stages, among others. She directs the Ensemble Studio Theatre Playwrights Unit and teaches at the New School for Drama where she received the Distinguished University Wide Teaching Award. She is a graduate of Yale with a degree in Philosophy and Theatre and a proud member of HONOR ROLL!
WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
MORE ABOUT ME
*What was your most gratifying moment in the theater?
My first play was presented at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and starred Angela Bassett, Courtney Vance, Dominic Chianese, J. Smith Cameron and Tom Wright! I remember sitting on the grass surrounded by friends and family and feeling waves and waves of joy not unlike a profound meditative experience. I had written the play mornings at 5:30 a.m. before office temp jobs and it was one of the first times I had fully manifested a dream. To have an audience excited by my vision of the world, to be in my young 20's and taken seriously, to take what was in my heart and mind and give it to other hearts and minds was the profoundest joy I could imagine. That joy has never diminished no matter what age I reach.
*What play or production changed your life?
Steppenwolf’s production of A Balm in Gilead by Lanford Wilson. I was intoxicated by its kinetic dynamism and lucky enough to attend the opening night party as a friend of the actor Paul Butler. I found myself at a sit-down dinner next to Lanford. I knew he probably didn’t want to be sitting next to a 23-year-old stranger and yet he kindly listened to me. I told him “you broke all the rules with your play, I don’t know what the rules are but I know you broke them!” He explained that when he wrote the play he too didn’t know what the “rules” were and then talked about the difference between his young voice and more mature voice and the values of both. Later on as I was saying goodbye, Lanford stopped talking to a friend, pointed at me and said “good luck with that play, Laura.” It felt like a benediction, and that play, my first, went on to the O’Neill.
WHAT I'M WORKING ON
A story about my severely disabled aunt. About the day she decided to stop being infantilized by her family and assert her own will and the price she paid for that -- and the joy she experienced as well. I'm also beginning to workshop my play Beyond Words, which is essentially a 30-year love story between a scientist who studies animal cognition and her research subject, the African Grey parrot Alex. The parrot is embodied by a human actor on stage.
Human rights, social justice, spiritual, Italian-American, Muslim, immigrant, women, three generations, becoming American, disability, science plays, animal intelligence, Bronx, Queens, teaching, war, PTSD, wartime heroism, women partisans, fascism.
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