Pioneers Go East is a community of writers, musicians and designers who excavate timeless stories that emerge from memories of collective and individual vulnerability, otherness and courage. The collective creates thought provoking impressions by exploring powerful social-political themes, merging documentary and theatre. We challenge audiences in emotionally charged and accessible performances that seed a sustaining and rich residual experience, unlocking meaning that encourages the audience to think, laugh, and reflect on our shared culture and values.



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 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.



Artistic Director Gian Marco Lo Forte

Co-Artistic Director Abby Felder

Resident composer & sound designer John Sully 

Development Consultant: Julia Dobner Pereira

Marketing Consultant Michaela Reggio


Board of Directors

Daniel Barry

Susan Byrne McLelland

David Freberg

Karen Lopienski

Beverly Petty

Meg Reticker

Steve Swanson



Chad Raines - composer

Adam Cuthbért - composer

Maura Nguyen Donohue - choreographer

Kathryn Lieber - designer

Mark Tambella – visual artist

Rocco D’Santi - designer 

Jiyoun Chang - designer

Kamala Sankaram - composer

Michael Burke – writer


Performers & musicians

Seth Gilman

Ashley Winland

Elise Brancheau

Daniel Allen Nelson

Nehprii Amenii

Brian Walters

Dorothy James Loechel

Emily Asaro

Allison Hiroto

John Gasper

Giacomo Rocchini

Michael Lapinsky

Marina Celander

Ian Cherry

Julia Dobner- Pereira

Michaela Reggio

Daniel Diaz

Nadja Leonhard-Hooper



Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

The Puffin Foundation

Nancy Quinn Fund



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)