Pioneers Go East Collective creates music-performance that merge storytelling and video documentary of real events. In residence at La MaMa since 2010, the collective explores stories that are not usually investigated and which reflect social-political vulnerabilities and otherness as a way towards provoking thought, casting impressionistic shadows.

Inspired by Walt Whitman’s powerfully evocative poem “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” that pays homage to fearless courage, we are a collective of ‘pioneers’ set out to find a brighter future and record memories of collective and individual vulnerability and resilience. As ‘pioneers’ on a long journey, the collective finds and records memories of collective and individual courage to challenge audiences in emotionally charged yet accessible performances.

Gian Marco Lo Forte, Daniel Diaz, Julia Dobner-Pereira, Anthony Napoletano, Maura Nguyen Donohue, Abby Felder, Kamala Sankaram and John Sully lead the collective in collaboration with a community of like-minded writers, performers, musicians, and visual artists. The collective has been widely presented in NYC at La MaMa, A.R.T./New York venues, St Ann’s Warehouse, Governors Island, The Silent Barn, Astor Alive Festival, Incubator Arts Project, Triskelion Arts/ The Exponential Festival, Dixon Place, Performance Mix/ HERE, Chashama Harlem Gallery, Goethe Institut Gallery.


Since 2010 PGEC develops works inspired by historical and social events, scientists, artists and spiritual leaders who have influenced the World. PGEC works include GEMINI stars - inspired by LGBTQ vloggers coming out on youtube juxtaposed to gay bashing on the internet; AMERICAN MILL No. 2 –based on interviews from the textile belt of the South (A.R.T/New York ‘16); MJ WAS INNOCENT… the story of Queer artist Burke that challenges the expected values of the LGBTQ community (HOT Festival; Performance Mix/ HERE ‘15); HILDEGARD (vision) about spiritual leader Hildegard Von Bingen, and her transcendence of gender confines through her creative process (St Ann’s Warehouse & Governors Island, 2013-14); MARIA CELESTE (GALILEO) based on the epistolary correspondence between Maria Celeste and her father Galileo (Incubator Arts Project ‘14); 7AM based on St Francis visions (IAP ‘13); S16 based on Pirandello’s story of boys working in sulfur mines (La MaMa ‘12); The Birds and The Wolf live video installation (Chashama/Harlem Gallery, and Goethe Institut  ’11-‘12). Upcoming: GEMINI STARS based on LGBQT vloggers coming out on youtube (The Silent Barn ‘16/ The Exponential Festival 2017). PGEC awards: Puffin Foundation 2013; LMCC (2011-2015); Nancy Quinn Fund (2015); PGEC are affiliate artists with New Victory LabWorks program 2015/16. Upcoming: American Mill No. 2 at A.R.T./ New York; GEMINI Stars at The Silent Barn in 2016/17.


Gian Marco Lo Forte (artistic director/director & writer): Originally from Italy, Gian Marco is a New York based artist and artist-in-residence at La MaMa. Gian Marco founded Pioneers Go East Collective (PGEC) in 2010, which has developed multimedia projects with music and poetry for social change. In addition to his work with PGEC, Gian Marco is Curator of SOUND DEPARTURES at La MaMa and Coordinator of La MaMa Moves. Gian Marco's directing and design work was presented at La MaMa, Dixon Place Galapagos; HERE; WET; Abingdon; NYTW; 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: LMCC (’11 -‘14); Incubator Arts Project Residency ('13 & '14); The Puffin Foundation (’12 & '14); Chashama Residency (’12); Opera America - Director & Design Award (’10). MFA NYU (’09).

Julia Dobner-Pereira (writer and performer) is a queer theatre artist and current graduate student at NYU, studying drama therapy. She is passionate about incorporating spontaneous play and humor into the therapeutic space. For her master’s thesis, she is researching the relationship between isolation and aggression in incarcerated men by conducting a meta-synthesis of existing literature and through a close examination of the therapeutic dynamics in her individual research with a client on Bellevue’s Forensic Psychiatric Unit. With PGEC, she uses her drama therapy training to examine queer relational dynamics and how bullying and aggression has an impact on the psyche of queer individuals. Julia supported Gian Marco in writing GEMINI STARS, and will collaborate as a lead artist on SCORPIO STARS and SAGITTARIUS STARS. As a performer, Julia trained at Smith College with Ellen Kaplan (acting) and Judith Gray (vocal performance) and in NYC with Ken Schatz and Mitchell Raftery. As a director and deviser, Julia has trained with MOTUS, Belarus Free Theatre, Jessica Litwak, and Nisha Sajnani (Arts Based Research). Recent NYC Performance Credits: Gemini Stars (PGEC, Triskelion Arts Space, The Silent Barn), American Mill #2 (PGEC, La MaMa), The Oblate Cycle: Maria Celeste (PGEC, La MaMa), Light & Shadow (Yara Arts, La MaMa), Fire. Water. Night. (Yara Arts, La MaMa).

Daniel Diaz (Writer and Performer) joined PGEC as a resident artist in 2013. With a focus on modern street and interpretive dance, he has designed choreography for several influential New York musicians including Shadow Lover, Omega Jarden and more. Daniel performs at major local venues including PS1 MOMA, The Brooklyn Museum, The Coney Island Sideshow, Joe’s Pub, Dixon Place, Triskelion Arts and most recently at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. He has also performed at various nightlife spots up and down the east coast. Daniel’s passion draws him to aspects beyond dance including performance art and set design, branding him a “Creature of the Stage”.

John Sully (composer) 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 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 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 installations IDEAL BEACH, IDEAL VALLEY and IDEAL AVENUE were featured in NYC Fringe festival and FABnyc. In 2014 Sully was an artist in residency at Robert Wilson's Watermill Center. Additional residency at EMPAC 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 COIL festival 2015.

Maura Nguyen Donohue (choreographer) has been making dance-based performance works in NYC since 1995. Her solo and inmixedcompany group works have been produced and presented in NYC at Dance Theater Workshop (now NY Live Arts), PS 122, Danspace Project, La Mama, and Mulberry St. Theater and have toured across the US and to Canada, Europe and Asia. She is an assistant professor in dance at Hunter College, writes for Culturebot, and serves on the NY Dance and Performance Awards (Bessies) committee and Movement Research’s artist advisory council. She has collaborated with Adam on projects for La Mama Moves, The Asia Society, and Pioneers Go East Collective.

Catrin Lloyd-Bollard (musician and storyteller) is a company member of the Brooklyn-based experimental theater company Title:Point and hosts and co-curates their monthly SalON! series (now running 2+years consecutively). She performs her solo music project CATFOX regularly around Brooklyn and La MaMa as part of Sound Departures music series, and in 2015 released her debut album, ZOÖMAGNESIS. She has most recently acted onstage with Title:Point (THE CHROMA KEY, BITER (EVERY TIME I TURN AROUND), NEVER ODD OR EVEN), Object Collection (IT'S ALL TRUE premiere in Bergen, Norway), and Buran Theatre; on film/video in Inappropriate Production's forthcoming horror feature THE MOOSEHEAD OVER THE MANTEL, Lamb of God's music video EMBERS, and several shorts and music videos; and performs the voice of Olympia on Cartoon Network's POKÉMON XYZ. |

Jason Stanley (musician and storyteller) is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Missouri. Last seen on stage in Six Part’s production of The Skin, Godlight’s productions of Cool Hand Luke as Boss Keane and Deliverance as Tall Man. Film credits include: Night and a Switchblade as Chas Bergeron The Fungus Adventures as Gus, and Losses and Gains as Craig.

Brittane Rowe (musician and storyteller)  is a musician originally from Detroit who has been influenced by Gospel music and Gospel blues.. She is a resident artist with Pioneers Go East Collective and has been living in NYC for the past six years working in original music theatre and as a background singer for indie bands. She primarily works at The Flea Theatre where she is a member of the Acting Company “The Bats”.  You can find her performing in “Gemini Stars” at The Exponential Festival and La MaMa, Sound Departures Music Series at La MaMa and at A.R.T./ New York in “American Mill No. 2” with Pioneers Go East Collective this year.


Gian Marco Lo Forte - Artistic Director

Julia Dobner-Pereira - Development Advisor

Daniel Diaz - Resident writer and performer

John Sully - Resident composer and sound designer

Maura Nguyen Donohue - Resident choreographer

Poorna Swami - Development Associate

John Issendorf - Marketing Consultant

Joyce Isabelle - Development Consultant

Board of Directors

 Daniel Barry - president

Steve Swanson - treasurer

Abby Felder - secretary

Beverly Petty - board member/ vice-president

Gian Marco Lo Forte - board member

Karen Lopienski - board member

Meg Reticker - board member

Honorary Board of Directors: Annina Nosei and Nicky Paraiso

Collaborators: Chad Raines - composer / Adam Cuthbért - composer / Kathryn Lieber - designer / Mark Tambella – visual artist / Rocco D’Santi - designer / Jiyoun Chang - designer / Kamala Sankaram - composer / Michael Burke – writer

Performers & musicians: Anthony Napoletano, Seth Gilman, Ashley Winland, Elise Brancheau, Daniel Allen Nelson, Nehprii Amenii, Brian Walters, Allison Hiroto, John Gasper, Michael Lapinsky, Marina Celander, Ian Cherry, Daniel Diaz



Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

The Puffin Foundation

Nancy Quinn Fund

Pioneers Go East Collective is a a resident company at La MaMa since 2010

Pioneers Go East Collectiveis a member company at A.R.T./ New York since 2012.


A.R.T./New York - Theatre Pilot program (2017)

New Victory LabWorks - Professional Development Artists (2015/16)

Process Space/ Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (2014)

St Ann’s Warehouse – Puppet Lab (2013/14)

Incubator Arts Project (2013/14)

Chashama (2011)

Goethe Institut (2011)

La MaMa (on going)