PIONEERS GO EAST COLLECTIVE  -  Company in Residence at La MaMa

MISSION: Pioneers Go East is a collective of performing and visual artists in collaboration with musicians. The collective is dedicated to intimate theatre and opera installations inspired by stories originating in the Mediterranean region and Northern Europe. The collective incorporates multi-linguistic texts, surrealist soundscapes with design, puppetry, art and video to evolve a universal language of performance that challenges and engages audiences in emotionally charged and accessible experiences. 


PROGRAMMING HISTORY: PGEC has developed 7 multi-linguistic original performances and opera based works inspired by science, art, and spiritual endeavors, which have been widely presented in New York City at, La MaMa, St Ann’s Warehouse, Incubator Arts Project, Dixon Place, Chashama, Goethe Institut. Over 100 artists have collaborated to create these performances that evolve from extensive workshops and artistic research. Current projects include: MICHAEL J WAS INNOCENT, a story written by queer artist Michael Burke at Dixon Place in ’14 and The Tank in ’15, LINT HEAD (AMERICAN MILL #2) at La MaMa in 2015, and Hildegard (VISION), developed in residency at La MaMa, St Ann’s Warehouse - Puppet Lab ’13/’14 and LMCC at Governor’s Island in ‘14. Awards include: Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (’11 - ‘14); Puffin Foundation (’12 & ‘14); LMCC / Process Space ’14; Nancy Quinn Fund (’14); Chashama Residency (’12).


Gian Marco Lo Forte (artistic director PGEC/director & writer): Originally from Italy, Gian Marco is based in NYC, where currently is an artist-in-residence at La MaMa. Gian Marco founded Pioneers Go East Collective (PGEC) in 2007, which has developed hybrid transmedia projects with music and poetry. PGEC productions include: Hildegard vision (presented at St Ann's Warehouse - Puppet Lab in '14 and at Governor's Island/ Lower Manhattan Cultural Council -Process Space in '14 Maria Celeste Galileo (Incubator Arts Project '14);  7AM - Di Mattina (Incubator Arts Project '13); S 16 – Luna Nera (La MaMa ’12); Alli Uccelli e Al Lupo (Chashama ‘12 & Goethe Institut ‘11); I Fioretti in Musica (La MaMa ‘10); Caravaggio Chiaroscuro (La MaMa ‘07); Butter Melts Away (La MaMa ‘05). His directing and/or design work presented in NYC: La MaMa, Dixon Place Galapagos; HERE; The Tank; WET; Abingdon; New York Theatre Workshop; Art on Air/ Clock Tower Gallery; and he designed for Pan Asian Rep; Magis Co; Watson Arts; Operating Theatre; Slant; May Adrales; Ernest Abuba; Alvin Eng; Kevin Augustine; Kim Ima; Ellen Stewart. Gian Marco is in residence with Great Jones Rep and has designed at Biennale di Venezia and toured in Europe. Awards: Lower Manhattan Council of the Arts (’11 -‘14); Incubator Arts Project Residency ('13 & '14); The Puffin Foundation (’12 & '14); Chashama Residency (’12); Opera America - L.T.Tobin Director & Design Award (’10). MFA NYU (’09).

Abby Felder (co-artistic director PGEC/ writer & designer of puppetry, animations and masks)For PGEC: script development, dramaturgy, costumes, masks and puppets for productions/installations at La MaMa, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Incubator Arts Project, Goethe Institut, and Chashama, including puppet design and construction for HILDEGARD (Vision) which was part of the Puppet Lab/Labapalooza at St. Ann’s Warehouse, and I FIORETTI with Jane Catherine Shaw at La MaMa.   Puppetry credits for which she has served as director, designer and builder include ELEKTRA, which she adapted (Workshop Theater); SLUG AND SNAIL, a solo-performance for children with music she wrote and performs; and A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD and CHARLOTTE’S WEB for Asheville Creative Arts (a children’s theatre company she co-founded in NC). In development: LINT HEAD, a TYA piece with puppets about children working in Southern textile mills in early 20th C. She has worked at Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, Czechoslovak American Marionette Theatre, EST, HERE, Concrete Temple, and others.  She has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College where she studied puppetry with Dan Hurlin and Theatre Outreach with Shirley Kaplan, and completed an apprenticeship with puppet artists, Frantisek Watzl, and wood carver Vaclav Krcal in the Czech Republic. 

John Sully (composer & sound designer) is a NYSCA awarded composer multi-instrumentalist from New York City. As the resident composer for TEMPORARY DISTORTION, Sully has created the music and sound designs for the stage productions, ONE WILL SPEAK/THE OTHER IS DEAD, WELCOME TO NOWHERE, AMERICANA KAMIKAZE, and NEW YORK LAND, as well as the video installation AN INSTRUMENT FOR THE MEASURE OF ABSENCE and the feature length film project, an adaptation of Welcome to Nowhere (Bullet Hole Road). Also a resident artist at IDEAL GLASS, sully has created the scores for the shows SAINT HOLLYWOOD, DANDY, MAD SUPPER and PURPLE JESTER and numerous Ideal Glass produced videos and is an original member of the IDEAL ORKESTRA. He’s also an affiliated artist with award winning theater company RIPE TIME and has seen the world as a touring member of LA MAMA’s GREAT JONES REP. and LOCO 7. Sully’s original video installations IDEAL BEACH, IDEAL VALLEY and IDEAL AVENUE were featured in NYC Fringe festival and FABnyc. In early 2014 Sully was an artist in residency at Robert Wilson's Watermill Center. This fall he will be in residency at EMPAC—The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. Also his latest work with Temporary Distortion's “My Voice Has An Echo In It” was presented at VIA & EXIT Festival International in France and will be part of COIL festival early 2015.

Chad Raines (composer & sound designer) is a musician/composer/sound designer et cetera currently based in Brooklyn. Sound design credits include, "Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls" at Yale Repertory Theater directed by Rachel Chavkin, “The Bakkhai” directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz at Bard College, “Arabian Nights” directed by Jesse Jou at Fairfield University, “From White Plains” (GLAAD Award Winner of Outstanding New York Theater: Off-Off Broadway) at Pershing Square Signature Center, written and directed by Michael Perlman. “Suicide Inc.” at Roundabout Underground, directed by Jonathan Berry, “The Crucible” by The Studio/New York,“Kiss Me Kate” at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, “Summer Shorts Festival of New Plays” presented by Through Line Artists and “Love’s Labours Lost” at The Old Globe in San Diego. While attending the Yale School of Drama credits include, “Battle of Black and Dogs” and “Autumn Sonata” both directed by Robert Woodruff and awarded Best Sound Design by the Connecticut Critics Circle 2010. Chad is also awarded the Winner of The Frieda Shaw, Dr. Diana Mason OBE, and Denise Suttor Prize for Sound Design from the Yale School of Drama 2011. Chad Raines also performs and arranges for controversial icon Amanda Palmer as a member of The Grand Theft Orchestra. He also performs as frontman and composer for electro-pop band The Simple Pleasure. While at Yale he starred as Tommy in "The Who's Tommy" and Hedwig in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at Yale Summer Cabaret. While studying Sound Design at the Yale School of Drama, he wrote and premiered works such as “Missed Connections” and “Project Realms: The World of Henry Darger” which had its second premiere at La Sala in Williamsburg.

Adam Cuthbért (composer & sound designer) is a composer/performer and Michigan native who cross-breeds acoustic instruments with digital environments. Highly interested in the environmental qualities of sound, Adam is experimenting with the ways in which we interact with sonic environments over time. As an Ableton Live practitioner and trumpeter, he has performed new works around the United States and Japan, at (le) poisson rouge, the Firehouse, La MaMa, the Asia Society, and the Oita Grand Theater, and alongside performers such as eighth blackbird, Sō Percussion, Dennis DeSantis, and Maura Donohue. His co-commission with Daniel Rhode, “several rooms away from their source”, premiered simultaneously in the UK, Netherlands, and US in the 2012 London Cultural Olympiad. Together with Daniel Rhode, he curates Sight/Sound, an audio-visual concert series that has featured to date over 70 musicians, dancers, videographers, actors, and other artists have participated and premiered over 35 new works.  Cuthbért studied with Bill Ryan and holds a BA in composition from Grand Valley State University. Adam will be a featured composer at 2013 Bang on a Can Summer Festival at Mass MoCa.

Maura Nguyen Donohue (choreographer) was born in Saigon and raised in the US. Since 1995, her work was produced regularly in NYC by Dance Theater Workshop, as well as Danspace Project, Performance Space 122, Mulberry St. Theater, the Bang Group, and has toured extensively across the US and to Montreal, Europe and Asia. As a member of La MaMa’s Great Jones Repertory Company she performed in NY, Europe and Asia in Fragments of a Greek Trilogy and Angels of Swedenborg. From 1999-2004, as artistic advisor for DTW’s Mekong Project, she facilitated residencies in the US and SE Asia. She writes for Culturebot and serves on the board for the Congress on Research in Dance, the Artist Advisory Council for Movement Research and on the New York Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies) Committee. She teaches at Hunter College.

Guy Barash (composer & musical director): Guy is a composer of modern music. Among his compositions are symphonic, chamber, vocal and electroacoustic works. He has written an extensive body of work that incorporates text in various settings and arrangements. Guy Barash's collaboration with American author Nick Flynn on Proteus, a musical rendition of Flynn's selected texts and excerpts from his second memoir The Ticking Is The Bomb, had its world premiere at Galapagos Art Space in February 2010. A commission from the Jerome Foundation, as part of his 2011 composer---residency at Electronic Music Foundation, gave Barash the resources to compose and produce Blind Huber based on 7 poems from the eponymous book of poems by Flynn, alongside video projections by Jerald Handelsman. It was premiered fall 2011 in Greenwich House. In 2012 Guy Barash was a composer-- in- -residence at Turtle Bay Music School as a recipient of Exploring the Metropolis' Con Edison Composition Award. Currently he is a fellow composer in the American Opera Projects' Composers & the Voice program. Barash is also the curator of the new music series, Eavesdropping, at Spectrum.

Kathryn Lieber (video designer) is a New York based freelance designer specializing in scenic and projection design, particularly immersive, multi-media world creation. Other Pioneers Go East credits:S 16 - Luna Nera. New York credits include Master Class and Company at Gallery Players in Park Slope, We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! at The Drilling Co., and The Awakening with Ugly Rhino at the Brooklyn Lyceum. She has an MFA in Scenic Design from UC San Diego. Credits include June Moon, The Dybbuk, and Hedda Gabler.

Mark Tambella (visual artist / paintings & projected drawings) is resident production manager and designer at La Mama ETC and has collaborated in the design and realization of several PGEC. productions. He has toured internationally with Ellen Stewarts Great Jones Repertory Company and created the site specific environments for music, dance and theatrical spectacles such as Trojan Women, Electra, Oedipus, Tancredi and Erminia, La Boia, Seven Against Thebes. Other production designs include work for Damon Wrights Struggle to the End, Mr.Baldwin goes to Heaven; Charles Alcrofts, Rainbow Flea, Snowman Serenade and Dreamboats and Sleepyheads. Some solo painting exhibitions include 2010 & 2008 Painting Exhibits, John Davis Gallery, Hudson, NY; 2005 Marmara Manhattan Gallery;

2001, 2003, 2004 LaGalleria /New Paintings, 6 E 1st St, New York, NY.

Rocco D’Santi (projection & video designer) is a New York City based projection and lighting designer.  Broadway productions: Time Stands Still (Video Editor) and Collected Stories (Projection Designer) by Donald Margulies. Off Broadway: Metamorphosis at the Atlantic Theatre Second Stage, A Second Chance by Ted Shen, Imelda for Pan Asian Rep, Inner Voices for Premieres and Primary Stages, and many more. D'Santi is the current projection director for Shen Wei Dance Arts.  D'Santi recieved his MFA in 2008 from The University of Missouri Kansas City.  He can be contacted at

Marie Yokoyama (lighting designer) is lighting and an occasional set designer based in NYC. Her lighting design credits include: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Red House) The Turn of the Screw and Der Kaiser von Atlantis (Opera Moderne), Faust (Curtis Institute of Music), Three Trees and Baudelaire La Mort (Pan Asian Rep), Billy Witch (APAC), We in Silence Hear a Whisper (Red Fern Theatre), (M)asking Questions (California Repertory Theater), and Compulsion (Yale Repertory Theatre). Her set and installation design credits include: After an Earlier Incident (Monk Parrot),TALA (Pacific Beat Collective), Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (Lee Strasberg), and vanya (Paisley in Blue).

Jiyoun Chang (lighting design) Recent collaboration with Gian Marco Lo Forte on new opera, I Fioretti in Musica at LaMama, Other works are T. 1912 (the Sinking of the Titanic) at the Guggenheim Museum, Light Within at Carnegie Hall, Musical RENT directed by Mike Donahue, Love Song by John Kolvenbach, New Musical Helen on 86th St. Resident Designer at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre. MFA in Design at Yale School of Drama ’08. 

David Pym (video design) a designer and filmmaker in New York City.

Chad Chenail (assistant director) Past NY Directing Credits include: Subverted (Lynn Redgrave Theatre); Rough for Theatre II (La Mama); The Family Continues (La Mama); Douche (The Players Theatre); Finding Goliath (The Identity Crisis Festival); Analysis of Suspense and Dramatic Tension (The Riant Theatre). Pace University directing credits include Woyzeck (Georg Buchner), A Number (Carol Churchill), Miss Margarita’s Way (Roberto Athyade), Earth and Sky (Douglas Post). 


Seth Gilman (baritone),  is active in new and early music. Seth’s 2011 activities included premiering Osnat Netzer’s The Wondrous Woman Within and a turn as Don Giovanni with Musica NYC. Last year brought Avsholem in Goldfaden’s Shulamis, and the premieres of Smashed, by James Barry, of the orchestrated Ambiguous Kafka by Ronnie Reshef, and of a song cycle by André Brégégère under Doctor Faustus. Seth also participated in the Brooklyn Art Song Society’s complete Charles Ives song festival. 2013 has seen premieres of Seth Bedford and Michael Ching songs and of Clint Borzoni’s Antinous and Hadrian with operamission, of Mary Kouyoumdjian’s I am a Fish with Hotel Elefant, of Kamala Sankaram’s Murder Mystery, Jeremiah Bornfield’s The Garden, Guy Barash’s Alice, and of Jiří Kadeřábek’s Kafka’s Women, and Susan Kander’s News from Poems with the Center for Contemporary Opera. Seth has also premiered works by Ben Brody, Robert Cuckson, David Durst, Noam Faingold, Martin Halpern, Jeff Hudgins, Lin Mu-Xuan, Pat Muchmore, Eric Shanfield, and Alex Temple. In addition to the aforementioned, he has collaborated with the ensembles Anti-Social Music, the Comic Opera Guild of Ann Arbor, Opera on Tap/New Brew, and the New York Continuo Collective.

Rebecca Hudelson (clarinetist) holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Grand Valley State University in Michigan.  During her time there, Hudelson was the recipient of the Guy D. & Mary Edith Halladay Music Award, and served two years on the collegiate board for the National Association for Music Education. Hudelson studied clarinet with international soloist Arthur Campbell, and has performed around the Midwest as part of the GVSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble and in the YouTube sensation GVSU Clarinet Quartet.  7AM Di Mattina is Hudelson's second performance with Pioneers Go East Collective after S16 Luna Nera.

Ashley Winland (Soprano) is a Soprano from Dallas, TX.  She currently holds a Master of Music in Classical voice from Mannes College: The New School for Music and a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from The University of North Texas. Recent credits include Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro (UNT Opera) as well as a solo performance with The Lonestar Wind Orchestra.

Elise Brancheau (Soprano) has recently been accepted as an apprentice artist at the Caramoor Bel Canto Festival. In April she will be covering the role of Sofia in a concert performance of Verdi’s I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata with the Opera Orchestra of New York at Avery Fisher Hall. Recent credits include Micaëla in Long Island Opera’s Carmen, and scenes from Lucia di Lammermoor (Lucia), Les pêcheurs de perles (Leïla), and La Cenerentola (Clorinda), all at Mannes College The New School for Music, where she received her master’s degree. She premiered the title role of Jan Albert’s opera, Kiyo, with Mind the Art Entertainment, and has sung the role of Rapunzel in Into the Woods at Westminster Choir College, where she received her bachelor’s degree. Competition credits include a career grant from the Giulio Gari Foundation, an honorable mention award from the Shreveport Opera Singer of the Year Competition, and First Prize in the New York Lyric Opera Competition (Division I). 


Daniel Allen Nelson (performer): Daniel is a hybrid theater artist, and founding member of Woof Nova Collective ( with which he has created several original theater works. He has also worked with many of New York’s notable theater venues and artists including: LaMama ETC, PS 122, The Public Theater, Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, The Kitchen, Mabou Mines, 3-Legged Dog, St. Ann’s Puppet Lab, Object Collection, John Jesurun, Richard Foreman, Chris Yon, Andrew Dinwiddie, Jeff McMahon, Joshua Gelb, Theodora Skipitares, and Marie-Christine Katz, among others. Regional Theater credits include: Berkeley Rep, The Guthrie Theater, LaJolla Playhouse, Center Stage, Ensemble Theater, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, The Jungle Theater, Red Eye Collaboration, Ko Festival, and Baltimore Theater Project. He is a curator of new performance at Incubator Arts Project. Education: BFA- UCSB, MFA- Towson University.

Nehprii Amenii (puppetry & performer) is an artist, puppeteer, and educator. She has created and worked with Penumbra Theatre Company, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre, Bread and Puppet Theatre.  After enjoying 8 years of teaching and creating puppet performances for The Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, She is now the creative consultant for the Ailey the arts in education department. In 2010 she received a grant from Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to create an exhibit and  Community Arts Center based on her children's book "Memories of the Little Elephant." In 2011 she was sponsored by the International Rotary Club to create a story-telling exhibit in India. Most recently she was honored with the 2013 Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for playwriting. Currently, she is founder and Artistic Director of Khunum Productions while also teaching storytelling through multi-media arts within New York public schools. She holds a BA  in English, Studio Arts, and Journalism from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College.

Brian Walters is an actor/singer from New York City. Previously with PGEC, Brian performed in S16 Luna Nera at La MaMa ETC. He was most recently seen in the National Tour of Titanic as Jim Farrell, and performs across the country regularly in Who Loves You: a Tribute to Frankie Valli. Other favorite credits include: Parade, Quest for the West, Quanah, and The Secret Garden. Brian’s also performed at some of NY greatest concert/cabaret venues, including Jazz @ Lincoln Center, Don’t Tell Mamas, and the Metropolitan Room. Active friend of the Society of American Fight Directors. 

Dorothy James Loechel - PGEC: I Fioretti... (La MaMa E.T.C.), Alli Uccelli e Al Lupo (Goethe Institut).  NYC: The Importance of Being Earnest(45th Street Theatre), The Merry Wives of Windsor (True False Theatre), Killers and Fairy Tales (Nightmare Haunted House), The Blind Trip (The Internationalists), Come To My Garden... (Joe's Pub).  Educational Tour: One Night and Four Hearts (Equalogy Inc.). Dorothy regularly volunteers at Lone Wolf Tribe, and is currently interning with Basil Twist on Rite of Spring.  She has studied at Pace University, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and The Barrow Group, and has been featured in a master class with Michael Greif.  

Emily Asaro: NYC credits include: Go Sit On Your Own Stoop (Gracie, The Abingdon Theatre); Six Seeds:The Persephone Project (The Virgin, The Tank); Action (Lupe, LaMaMa); Blank Canvas(Zooey, Tea in a Big Mug); CCC: The Tree Army Project (Remy, Figment); Finding Goliath (Ulga, Joria Studios). Webseries credits include: Space Cats (Jezebel, Science Officer 2, Nurse); Educated (OSA);Intimates (Lady Criminal, Funny or Die); Blackwell (Susan, No Remote). Emily currently interns and takes classes at the Improvolution School of Improv. 

Allison Hiroto  is an actor, singer, dancer, voiceover artist and a proud La MaMa baby. She has toured nationally and internationally and performed in Bogota, London, Rome, Spoleto, Taipei, Tirana, Zagreb and at the Venice Biennale. She is a member of the Great Jones Repertory Company, Loco 7 Dance Puppet Theatre and NYU's First Look Theatre Company.

John Gasper is an actor, writer, designer, and musician. He is a founding member of St.Fortune, an ensemble dedicated to exploring the limits and contradictions of theater vs. reality. His work has been seen at the Incubator Arts Project, JACK, the Gershwin Hotel, The Brick, The Paradise Factory, and more. He also plays in the experimental freak rock band Black Elk Speaks. Look for him in St.Fortune's production of "Cock-Strong" for the Tom Murrin Full Moon Festival, coming to La Mama in April 2014. More info here:

Gina Bonati – Daniel Nelson’s The Vanishing Play at Incubator Arts, Sharr White’s Annapurna at New Jersey Rep, Strindberg’s The Stronger at Strindberg’s Intima Teater in Stockholm, The Baruch Performing Arts Center and the Actors Studio, Figaro Gets a Divorce directed by Robert Woodruff at La Jolla Playhouse, Umo en los Ojos by Marcela Ortiz de Zarate at Belles Artes and El Zocolo in Mexico City and Diverse Works in Houston and Dance Theatre Workshop in NYC, her own The Miraculous Development of a Child at The Kitchen and Hunger and Visits at DIA. Early work in San Francisco at The Magic Theatre and The Eureka Theatre including Robert Woodruff’s 3 Penny Opera, Independent Film includes directors Aaron Lehmann, Jeremy Joffee, Doug Lenox, Emily Ray Reese, Nicole Michaelis and Sam Friedman. Singer for Guy Barash, Steve Levin, Clint Borzoni, art rock bands, el and The Farm, Educated in theatre, dance and music since childhood at Mission High, Dance Spectrum, ACT Young Conservatory, The Juilliard School, The Royal National Theatre, Lucy Moses School of Music.

Giacomo Rocchini is an actor, director and performance artist from Florence, Italy. Acting credits: Romeo and Juliet (Romeo) at the Ellen Stewart theater and several movement pieces. He conceived and directed a series of experimental plays, one of whom, In Vino Veritas, was produced at the Club of La MaMa E.T.C. With Pioneers go East he also performed in S16 Luna Nera. 

Michael Lapinsky - Recently: S 16 - Luna Nera (PGEC @ La MaMa Galleria), The Queen of the May and Her Harvest Kings (Mr. Gay, musical arr.), Urinetown (McQueen/Tiny Tom); as PSM: We Are All in Paradise (music by Todd Almond, dir. Lear deBessonet), Part Of It All (NYMF concert series); as composer: Ex Moenia (ETW, NYU), Jolly the Christmas Walrus (Boxed Wine Productions), Beyond The Tracks (short film); on staff as music director for theater programs at Bankstreet Summer Camp.  Upcoming: Avenue Q as Nicky/Trekkie/others in San Antonio, Texas! BFA, NYU Tisch, Experimental Theatre Wing.