About Us | The Orchard Project


The Orchard Project is the preeminent artistic development laboratory and accelerator for creators of performance and dramatic stories. Through programs in New York City, Saratoga Springs and online, the Orchard Project inclusively supports and empowers dramatic storytellers from the United States and around the world. Through summer labs and other year-round programs that provide resources including community, accountability, and opportunity for artists at multiple stages of their careers, The Orchard Project pushes the dramatic form and lifts up a diversity of voices that inform, inspire, and provoke


EMPOWERMENT The Orchard Project is a strength-based organization. We support, trust, and empower artists and staff to further our shared mission, and commit to developing the confidence of every stakeholder's individual talents and capabilities.

INTEGRITY The Orchard Project welcomes accountability and conducts our business with honesty and transparency. Our hope is not only to put work into the world whose content reflects our values of integrity, but moreover, to live our values by embedding our processes with integrity whereever possible.

COMMUNITY The Orchard Project values a creative process that highlights collaboration both inside and outside the room. We center collaborations, and our work is grounded in the needs, desires, and sustainability of the artists we support, prioritizing long-term artistic relationships. We intentionally engage artists locally, nationally, and internationally, working across a multitude of processes and aesthetics.

FLEXIBILITY The Orchard Project recognizes that artistic processes and forms evolve and are as varied as the human beings exploring them. We evolve our perspectives, practices, resources, and partnerships in order to stay relevant and responsive to artists’ needs.

INCLUSION The Orchard Project supports artists across all spectrums, with an emphasis on underrepresented and under-supported voices. We proactively engage and welcome people of all abilities, ages, cultures, ethnicities, genders, incomes, races, religions, and sexual orientations, and understand the power of supporting diverse aesthetics and the evolution of forms of dramatic practice.

ADVOCACY The Orchard Project fights for a field in which storytellers and makers can thrive. We are committed to modeling how institutions can authentically support the art of storytelling, and connect artists’ work to audiences around the globe.


The Orchard Project is the current name of the organization once known as the Jean Cocteau Repertory, which was originally founded founded in 1971. The organization was put under the Artistic Direction of Ari Edelson in 2007, where its name was changed to the Exchange, and eventually, the Orchard Project. 

Ari Edelson


Ari Edelson is a director and producer who has worked both in the United States and internationally, from off-Broadway to London to Tokyo, working in the fields of plays, musicals, and opera. He is also the co-founder of Culture Craver, a tech company that helps people discover culture they'll love. Ari graduated from Yale University and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Staff/Board: staff, board
Ari Edelson
Artistic Director
Xiaoyue Zhang is a Chinese interdisciplinary artist and creative producer working at the intersection of performance, dance, photography, and film. Her works have been shown at REDCAT New Original Works Festival, Hollywood Fringe Festival, Guangdong Museum of Art (China) and Short Film Corner of the 2018 Cannes International Film Festival. She has served as an associate producer for Ergao Dance Group and CalArts Center for New Performance. She received her MFA in Creative Producing and Management at California Institute of the Arts
Staff/Board: staff
Xiaoyue Zhang
Associate Producer
Staff/Board: staff
Ramona Rose King
Greenhouse Lab Coordinator

JACK PHILLIPS MOORE is a dramaturg, story consultant and theater administrator with a focus on new play development. He works as the Director of New Artists at The Public Theater, where has overseen the development of dozens of new plays and musicals. Projects Jack has dramaturged have premiered at The Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop, Atlantic Theater Company, American Repertory Theater, Baltimore Center Stage, The Flea, Ars Nova, Long Wharf, The Alley and South Coast Rep and have won numerous honors including the Princess Grace Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Staff/Board: staff
Jack Phillips Moore
Performance Lab Facilitator

Jerry Ruiz is a director, producer and new play aficionado. Directing credits include Fade by Tanya Saracho (DCPA world premiere, Primary Stages, Hartford TheaterWorks), Twelfth Night (Old Globe, PlayMakers, Chalk Rep), Mala Hierba (world premiere at Second Stage), Basilica by Mando Alvarado (world premiere at Rattlestick), Enfrascada (NYC premiere at Clubbed Thumb), and Mariela in the Desert by Karen Zacarías (Repertorio Español). He has developed work at Playwrights Horizons, Soho Rep., The Public Theater, Atlantic Theater Company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the Playwrights Realm. Currently, Jerry serves as Head of Directing at Texas State University.

Staff/Board: staff
Jerry Ruiz
Audio Lab Facilitator

Marty Chandler is a performer, writer, and collaborative theatermaker originally from the suburbs of Seattle. He is an OP Core Company alumnus, and graduated from Yale University as a Theater & Performance Studies and Psychology major. He received the Yale Marina Keegan Award for Excellence in Playwriting, and his works have been performed at Yale and published in YouthPLAYS.

Staff/Board: staff
Marty Chandler
Artistic & Development Liaison

Mehrnaz is an Iranian American playwright raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She recently graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Dramatic Writing program with a minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. Her work has been developed with City Theatre, the Women’s Theater Festival, Permafrost Theater Collective, Out of the Box Theatrics, Full Circle Theater Collaborative, and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Mehrnaz was a winner of the Young Playwrights Contest at City Theatre in 2016, and a member of the 2021 New Perspective Theatre Short Work Lab.

Staff/Board: staff
Mehrnaz Tiv
Artistic & Development Liaison

Jennifer is a Los Angeles based director. She developed and directed the world premiere of The Cake by Bekah Brunstetter at Echo Theatre Company with subsequent productions at Geffen Playhouse and Barrington Stage Company, If I Forget by Steven Levinson (Barrington Stage Company), A Kid Like Jake by Daniel Pearle (IAMA) and others. She has worked with acclaimed playwrights Paula Vogel and Bess Wohl and had directed workshops and readings for South Coast Rep, The Old Globe, The Geffen, Center Theatre Group and The McCarter Theater. She was associate artistic director at the Echo Theater Company and ran the playwrights lab for 3 years. She is a proud member of the new class of The Kilroys, and she is the co-founder of Girl Crush Films. http://www.jennifergchambers.com/

Staff/Board: staff
Jennifer Chambers
Episodic Lab Facilitator

Lana Russell is a producer, director, dramaturg and artistic administrator focusing on programming, new play development and advocacy. She has directed, produced and/or developed plays at The Fifth Avenue Theatre, The Civilians, The Lark, Primary Stages, New Georges, Cal Shakes, The Public Theater of San Antonio, All For One, Naked Angels, Gettysburg College, Bedlam and New York Stage and Film. Recent Credits: Producer, Life Studies Benefit Show (The Civilians), Interim Artistic Producer (New York Stage and Film), Associate Director, BLISS the musical (Fifth Avenue Theatre). Facilitator/founder of writers group, reversal. Member: Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. MFA: Directing, New School. BA: Theater Production, UC Irvine.

Staff/Board: staff
Lana Russell
Director, OP Forward

Lisa is a creative coach and dramaturg specializing in new play development and production. She is the co-director of Theater-19, an ongoing oral history project documenting the experiences of theater workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous positions include director of new work at The Huntington Theatre Company in Boston, director of new play development at Playwrights Horizons, interim dramaturg and advisor to the Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theater, artistic producer at Carole Shorenstein Hayes Productions. Trained in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism at Columbia University (MFA), she has worked with various theater companies and developmental organizations including New York Theatre Workshop, Sundance Theater Institute, New Dramatists, Stacey Mindich Productions, the O’Neill, Actors Theatre of Louisville, INTAR, Classic Stage Company, and New Georges. She is an executive board member at WP Theater and a landscape volunteer in Central Park. She worked with HIAS on their refugee resettlement program for three years. She has served as an adjunct professor at Queens College, Columbia University School of the Arts, NYU's Tisch School of the
Arts, and as the staff dramaturg at The Juilliard School. Lisa holds a BA in English Literature from Kenyon College.

Staff/Board: staff
Lisa Timmel
Greenhouse Lab Facilitator