JOEL DERFNER (Composer)is from Charleston, South Carolina, where his great-grandmother had an affair with George Gershwin. His musical Blood Drive, with book and lyrics by Rachel Sheinkin, has been produced at the Bridewell Theatre in London, the Provincetown Playhouse in New York, and Theatre Latte Da in Minneapolis. Joel has been in residence three times at the O'Neill Music Theater Conference, and his work from his first year there has been heard at the Duplex and Joe's Pub in New York. Joel is a grateful alumnus of the graduate musical theater writing program at NYU, where he is now on faculty. He is or has been an aerobics instructor, a knitter, a go-go boy, a math teacher, a cheerleader, and the author of Gay Haiku (Random House, 2005), Swish: a Memoir (Random House, 2008), and Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013). He has also written for a number of national periodicals, including Out, Genre, and The Advocate. He can be found on the web at

LEN SCHIFF (Lyricist) is a lyricist, teacher, and occasional journalist. An alumnus of The BMI Musical Theater Workshop and NYU's Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program, he feels honored to see Signs of Life make its Chicago debut. His musical The Golem of Havana (see a theme here?) with music by Salomon Lerner and book by Michel Hausmann, premiered at New York's La Mama Theater last month in a production directed by Hausmann. Len lives in Queens, NY with his wife and son, and too many board games.

PETER ULLIAN (Book) has received awards for his dramatic writing from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, the Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theater Foundation, and the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. Mr. Ullian wrote the libretto for Eliot Ness in Cleveland, produced at the Denver Theatre Center, the Directors Company, and the Cleveland Playhouse. He also wrote the libretto for Flight of the Lawnchair Man, directed by Harold Prince at both the Prince Music Theatre and the Ahmanson Theatre, subsequently produced at Goodspeed Musicals and 37 Arts, and licensed for stock and amateur productions by Theatrical Rights Worldwide. Mr. Ullian's play Hester Street Hideaway: A Lower East Side Love Story was produced Off-Broadway by En Garde Arts, and his play Black Fire White Fire was recently presented by Jewish Plays Project as part of OPEN: The Festival of New Jewish Theater at the 14th Street Y. Other work for the stage has been produced at regional theatres throughout the United States and Off-Broadway, as well as in England and Scotland. He has written screenplays for both independent and major studios, and his short fiction has appeared in periodicals and anthologies. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, and has taught dramatic writing at colleges and universities, most recently at the Hollins University M.F.A. Playwrights Lab. He lives with his wife and two sons in New York's Hudson Valley.