Cover: Marvin Gonzรกlez De Leรณn, 2018 Fellows Showcase. Photo by Paula Keller. This page: Carlyle Brown rehearsing The History of Religion, 2018-19 Ruth Easton New Play Series. Photo by Paula Keller.
The Playwrights’ Center champions playwrights and new plays to build upon a living theater that demands new and innovative works. The Playwrights’ Center serves playwrights by sustaining careers through high-level financial support, developing new work, and connecting playwrights to theaters. Each year at the Center, Fellows and Core Writers receive more than $305,000 in direct support, 70+ new plays are workshopped, playwrights connect with over 100 producing theaters through partnership programs, and over 2,100 member playwrights from around the world find resources to achieve their artistic visions.
SUSTAIN. DEVELOP. CONNECT. These three little words have a big impact. Together, they guide the Center’s comprehensive support strategy: providing playwrights with secure compensation and a nurturing artistic home, individually-tailored development resources, and connections to the producing theaters who will launch their bold new stories onto stages across the country.
2019-20 Fellows & Core Writers Lee Blessing Carlyle Brown Darren Canady Sun Mee Chomet Erin Courtney Kim Euell Emily Feldman Gina Femia Barbara Field Marvin González De León Allison Gregory Dipika Guha W. David Hancock Jeffrey Hatcher
Morgan Holmes Rachel Jendrzejewski Jake Jeppson C. A. Johnson Candrice Jones Gursimrat Kaur Carson Kreitzer Sofya Levitsky-Weitz Jim Lichtscheidl Cristina Luzárraga Marion McClinton Courtney Meaker Daaimah Mubashshir Kira Obolensky
John Olive Marisela Treviño Orta Heather Raffo Taylor Rankin Aaron Ricciardi Stacey Rose Tylie Shider Ariel Stess Andrea Stolowitz Kate Sutton-Johnson James Anthony Tyler Ray Yamanouchi Kit Yan Stefanie Zadravec
“Writing is really a way of thinking—not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic, or just sweet.” – Toni Morrison The bold playwrights we are thrilled to support this season are truth– seekers in a turbulent and often chaotic world. The stage they set reflects a multiplicity of lived experiences and the perseverance of the human spirit. Their work reflects the environment we live in, introduces us to narratives we haven’t yet encountered, and challenges our belief systems; it invites deeper empathy and better prepares us to be actively compassionate citizens of the world. Here at the Playwrights’ Center, we are committed to creating an artistic home for these storytellers and to supporting their daring voices. We surround them with collaborative teams so they can expand their vision, give them a lab where they can explore and test their work, and bring together a community to witness and be part of the creative process. In our 48th year, the impact of that support continues to grow. We are now reaching more members—over 2,100 worldwide. We are supporting more co-development partnerships and fostering more relationships than ever before between our playwrights and producing theaters across the theatrical landscape. It’s an honor to connect you with these remarkable artists. Their work is transforming the theater in this country and is seen by tens of thousands of audience members across the globe. Their voices are re-knitting our fraying world. Thank you for being part of the Playwrights’ Center family and we look forward to connecting with you throughout this season.
Jeremy B. Cohen
PRODUCING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
CONTENTS CONTENTS CONTENTS 04 10 18 34 38 40
PLAYLABS FESTIVAL RUTH EASTON NEW PLAY SERIES
FELLOWS & CORE WRITERS
NEW PLAYS ON CAMPUS
Season Season Season
The Playwrightsâ€™ Centerâ€™s 2019-20 public season consists of our celebrated PlayLabs Festival, now in its 36th year, and our Ruth Easton New Play Series, celebrating its 25th anniversary. These free performances are an opportunity to share the work that our incredible playwrights are developing. The writers receive intensive time to work on their plays with nationally acclaimed directors along with visionary actors, designers, and dramaturgs. The majority of the plays developed in the public season go on to production in the Twin Cities and across the country.
C. Michael Menge, performing in 2018 Fellows Showcase. Photo by Paula Keller.
playlabs New Life
by Dan O’Brien October 21 & 26
October 22 & 25
October 23 & 26
by Sofya Levitsky-Weitz
by Marvin González De León
Playwriting Fellows Showcase October 27
Ruth easton New Play Series December
by Marisela Treviño Orta December 9 & 10
AUTHOR AUTHOR by Jeffrey Hatcher & Sandra Struthers January 13 & 14
March 2 & 3
April 6 & 7
by Darren Canady
by Betty Shamieh February 3 & 4
by Ray Yamanouchi
OCTOBER 21-27, 2019
PLAYLABS Playlabs Playlabs
Andrea Stolowitz rehearsing The Berlin Dairies, 2018 PlayLabs Festival. Photo by Paula Keller.
We’re celebrating our 36th PlayLabs Festival this year—one of the nation’s most comprehensive new play festivals. Playwrights receive 30 hours of workshop time with a team of collaborators and two public readings with time for rewrites in between. PlayLabs also features a showcase of scenes by our 2019-20 playwriting fellows. Because we fly in a number of our Regulars artistic leaders (see page 34) for the Festival each year, nearly 70% of the plays featured in PlayLabs over the past decade have gone on to production, and the gathering has become a must-attend event for theater leaders and fans both locally and from around the country.
“This lab, and the support of the Playwrights’ Center in general, has allowed me to finish this play! A play that was so emotionally difficult for me to wrap my head around, but which, with the creative and moral support, I’ve been able to not only finish, but find a home for its world premiere! That’s the magic of the Playwrights’ Center, and why I will always consider it ‘home.’”
Stacey Rose, on her 2018 PlayLabs experience with Legacy Land
NEW LIFE by Dan O’Brien Affiliated Writer Monday, October 21 at 7 p.m. & Saturday, October 26 at 1 p.m. The war reporter in Syria, the playwright in treatment for cancer—together they endeavor to sell a TV show. The conclusion of O’Brien’s trilogy of poetic memoirs-forthe-stage, with The Body of an American and The House in Scarsdale, New Life dares to dream of healing after trauma and of telling the truth of war as entertainment. A tragicomedy. From Dan: “It means the world to me to be able to come back to PlayLabs and the Playwrights’ Center to develop New Life. My first play about war reporter Paul Watson, The Body of an American, began as a McKnight National Residency & Commission in 20092010. I’m grateful for the opportunity to explore this play’s unconventional theatricality and storytelling methods with Playwrights’ Center-caliber artists, and I’m excited to learn from the collaboration with the community‘s daring audiences.“
Cannabis Passover by Sofya Levitsky-Weitz Core Writer Tuesday, October 22 at 7 p.m. & Friday, October 25 at 7 p.m. A family gathers for their annual Passover seder in a rented house on a remote beach, this time with a new guest. As they perform the rituals, joke, provoke, argue, and imbibe, the lines between comic and tragic, sacred and mundane, ancient and everyday start to blur. In 2019, what does it mean to repair the world? From Sofya: “Cannabis Passover is the biggest challenge I‘ve ever given myself as a writer, putting myself out of my comfort zone in major ways. It offers a large cast who‘s on stage most of the time. It’s basically one long scene, which is an investigation into my family and traditions. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work on it this past year. Due to the challenging nature of the script and the group dynamic, this play thrives in workshops with actors, a director, and other voices in the room. Discussions between collaborators teach me more about the play than any other part of the process. I‘m thrilled to come back to the Playwrights’ Center and share this play with a supportive audience—a vital component of continuing with work on this play!”
PAN GENESIS by Marvin González De León Core Writer Wednesday, October 23 at 7 p.m. & Saturday, October 26 at 7 p.m. Otti, Zaira, and Chico are bonobos. Andrés is a chimp. Bonobos are female-forward, peaceful, and sex-positive. Chimps are bros. Things get weird in this sexy and dark comedy set in an apocalyptic jungle where the group must set aside divisions of gender and tribe to survive the darkness inside and out. From Marvin: “I‘m not sure that I could have written a play that took these kinds of risks with this particular brand of stubborn, Aries confidence had the Playwrights‘ Center not supported its development. Now, taking Pan Genesis to PlayLabs and placing it in front of audiences is not only a dream, but also a necessary boost of urgency to get the script into the shape that will allow it to reach its full, brassy potential.“
PlayLabs Showcase featuring our 2019-20 Playwriting Fellows Sunday, October 27 at 12:00 p.m. Our new 2019-20 Fellows all in one event! Join us for a very special event celebrating their work. We present scenes from a diverse collection of plays, followed by a reception with the writers. Work by: Heather Raffo McKnight National Residency and Commission W. David Hancock Stacey Rose McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting Cristina LuzĂĄrraga Courtney Meaker Tylie Shider Jerome Fellowship Candrice Jones Kit Yan Many Voices Fellowship
Nora MontaĂąez Patterson, performing in 2018 Fellows Showcase. Photo by Paula Keller.
RUTH Easton NEW pLAY sERIES NEW pLAY sERIES NEW pLAY sERIES
Stefanie Zadravec rehearsing Tiny Houses, 2018-19 Ruth Easton New Play Series. Photo by Paula Keller.
The Ruth Easton New Play Series provides selected Core and Affiliated Writers with 20 hours of workshop time to develop a new play with collaborators of their choice: top local and national actors, directors, designers, and dramaturgs. Each play has two public readings, allowing the playwright to experiment and see the play on its feet in front of two different audiences. Because the Playwrights’ Center brings in artistic leaders from around the country to see the readings and connect with the writers, more than half of the plays developed in the series in the past decade have gone on to production.
“This was such an extraordinary experience: everything about the process was vigorously centered around the needs of the play. As a playwright I felt absolutely heard, supported, and challenged. It is hugely liberating and wildly humbling when everyone in the room—everyone in the building—is focused on helping you grow your work. There is simply no organization on this planet as vital to new theater, as empowering to working playwrights, and as generous as the Playwrights’ Center.”
Allison Gregory, on her 2018-19 Ruth Easton New Play Series experience with Darling Boud (As In Loud)
Decemeber by Marisela Treviño Orta Core Writer December 9 & 10, 2019 at 7 p.m. When college poetry instructor Carolina and her student Benjamin first meet, an attraction blossoms, but the possibility of romance is halted by Carolina, who cannot overlook the age difference in good conscience. Spanning twenty years, this May-December romance follows Carolina and Benjamin as they meet at three different moments in their lives. December is a meditation on love, poetry, and timing. From Marisela: “As a poet tuned playwright, I often say my poetics are very present in my playwriting—lyricism, rhythm, and imagery. However, with December I find myself returning to poetry in a different way as the characters analyze poems and share my own original work as their own. I wrote this play as part of the Goodman Theatre‘s Playwrights Unit, which concluded in July, so I‘m excited to have the opportunity to continue working on the play at the Playwrights‘ Center.”
AUTHOR AUTHOR by Jeffrey Hatcher Core Writer and Sandra Struthers January 13 & 14, 2020 at 7 p.m. When playwright Jeffrey Hatcher and actress Sandra Struthers co-write a show about novelist Henry James and actress/suffragette Elizabeth Robins, sparks fly and tempers flare. Dancing between Victorian England and the present, AUTHOR AUTHOR explores questions of friendship and power in male-female relationships with wit, heartbreak, and a dash of mystery. Tracking gender dynamics across history, AUTHOR AUTHOR is a #MeToo play that‘s less interested in pointing fingers than finding connection. From Jeffrey: “I wanted to write a play for Sandra and came across the relationship between Henry James and Elizabeth Robins, who acted in his play The American. I sent her an outline, and she said, “Do you want me to respond as an actor or as a writer?“ I replied, “Will you write it with me?“ As we worked on the script, we realized our relationship was mirroring that of James and Robins: mixed motives, tensions, power dynamics. The play began to include dramatized elements of its creation. It came out of a relatively brief period marked by personal revelations, real time conflicts, all set against the poisonous background of male/female relationships in the Trump/#MeToo era.”
From Sandra: “Given the current socio-political climate, it is no longer up for debate that sexism is a cultural reality. While I‘ve seen stories about it existing, I was longing to see a story about how to move forward and create a greater sense of justice and connection between men and women once sexism has been acknowledged. I hope this play does that—in a way that‘s not mind-numbingly dull or pedantic—perhaps, even, in a way that‘s satisfying, hopeful, and fun.”
Malvolio by Betty Shamieh Affiliated Writer February 3 & 4, 2020 at 7 p.m. In this sequel to Twelfth Night, Malvolio is a famed general fighting in an endless war against a “Barbarian” nation. He encounters Volina, the serious-minded daughter of Viola and Orsino, who disguises herself as a male to enlist in his army. Volina tries to teach Malvolio that unbelievably good fortune—and a young lover—is always the best revenge. From Betty: “High school for me was no laughing matter. Around the time I first read Twelfth Night, I got pranked and received fake love letters from Michael Jackson in my locker. Is that why I’ve always wanted to write this play where the uptight underdog wins out in the end? I am grateful to the Playwrights’ Center for supporting my most ambitious project.”
#ROYCE by Darren Canady Core Writer March 2 & 3, 2020 at 7 p.m. Darnell, Cam, and Bruce are three queer black men with a deep friendship that goes back years and has sustained them over time, distance, and the instability of life’s vicissitudes. But when Bruce’s lover is killed in a murky encounter with police, the fallout tests the trio’s bond, forcing each man to confront the colliding complexities of race, sexuality, geography, violence, and male intimacy. From Darren: “I’m supremely grateful for the time, space, and resources of the Playwrights’ Center to develop this play. It’s a difficult piece that is both a rumination on the Pulse massacre and the Movement for Black Lives, but also a highly personal excavation of the glories and dysfunctions in my own friendships and those of some of the men who are closest to me. It’s also the first time I’ve ever created a full-length piece for one performer, so I’ll be pushing myself while I’m in Minneapolis to explore the outer bounds of what these men, their story, and one very hardworking actor can accomplish.”
Tha Chink-Mart by Ray Yamanouchi Core Writer
April 6 & 7, 2020 at 7 p.m. In a small, suburban town in Long Island, New York, five Asian American teenage friends struggle to survive high school. The majority of the student body views them as "Asian“ and their families consider them too "American.“ Finding solace only amongst each other, they attempt to define for themselves and embrace what it means to be an Asian in America. From Ray: “This play was inspired mainly by my own adolescence growing up in suburban New York. The local deli was colloquially called the title of this play by some kids in the neighborhood. Enjoy!”
Antonio Duke rehearsing Deux Femmes on the Edge de la Revolution Part II, 2019 Afro-Atlantic Playwright Festival. Photo by Paula Keller.
Fellows & Core Writers Core Writers Core Writers
Stacey Rose, rehearsing Legacy Land, 2018 PlayLabs Festival. Photo by Paula Keller.
Fellows Fellowships, made possible in part by the McKnight and Jerome Foundations, provide more than $305,000 each year for residencies, commissions, and development funds. Beyond the financial stipend, the value of fellowships is more than doubled with the year-long support the Playwrightsâ€™ Center adds through workshops with professional collaborators and through connections the Center makes between playwrights and producers of new work. This holistic and customized combination of financial support, access to talent, and professional connections is careerchanging for most playwrights.
CORE WRITERS The Core Writer Program at the Playwrightsâ€™ Center gives 25-30 of the most exciting playwrights from across the country the time and tools to develop new work for the stage. During their threeyear tenure, Core Writers receive play development workshops at the Center, have the opportunity to be part of PlayLabs or the Ruth Easton New Play Series, and get connected to an extensive network of universities and producing theaters.
Lee Blessing Core Writer
Plays include: Minneapolis/St. Paul, For the Loyal, A View of the Mountains What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Manny Azenberg, a well-known Broadway producer, once told me, “A contract is an agreement between two people at a point in time.” His emphasis. It taught me a lot—not that I could use, just a lot.
Carlyle Brown Core Writer
Plays include: Are you now or have you ever been…, A Play By Barb & Carl, The History of Religion How does the role of the audience influence your writing? The audience members are the ones I am speaking to, communicating and communing with. My collaborators. And, for good or ill, the ultimate arbiters of the worth and value of one’s art.
Core Writer Ruth Easton New Play Series Plays include: Brothers of the Dust, Black Butterflies, Ontario Was Here What is the most thrilling artistic experience you’ve had recently? Hands down, catching Michael R. Jackson’s new musical A Strange Loop at Playwrights Horizons. The score and book are smart, unique, and complex—which is great, but the honesty of the characters—even when they are their most ridiculous, or hurtful, or comic, or melodramatic—just broke me right down. I’m still processing it nearly two weeks later. 20
Sun Mee Chomet
McKnight Theater Artist Fellow Credits include: The Sins of Sor Juana (Ten Thousand Things), King Lear (Guthrie Theater), Vietgone (Mixed Blood Theater) What is something from outside of theater that influences your work? DANCE. I love movement. It’s my other passion. It’s something that I am going to be exploring more and more in the coming years as I devise new work.
Erin Courtney Core Writer
Plays include: A Map of Virtue; Ann, Fran, Mary Ann; The Tattooed Lady Why do you write plays? To remain curious. To remain engaged. To connect with others. To imagine impossible outcomes.
Core Writer Plays include: The Dance, The Diva Daughters Dupree, Rosetta What do you do when you’re stuck on something you’re writing? I indulge in some creative playtime and some physical activity such as dancing or taking a brisk walk. This connects me more deeply with my unconscious mind which is the source of our creativity.
Emily Feldman Core Writer
Plays include: The Best We Could (a family tragedy), Pick a Color, Go. Please. Go. What is something from outside of the theater world that inspires your theatrical writing? I was not a good math student, but I like thinking about geometry when I’m starting a play. I’m inspired by shapes in architecture and art objects. I love looking at images of interesting interior designs. I think in lines, triangles, circles, and squares before I am able to think in dialogue and plot.
Gina Femia Core Writer
Plays include: ALLOND(R)A, The Violet Sisters, This Happened Once at the Romance Depot off the I-87 in Westchester What advice do you have for beginning playwrights? Write, and don’t stop writing. Submit and write and rewrite. Oh yeah, don’t be afraid of rewriting, rewriting allows you to get to the heart of the piece. One day you might get to the point where you won’t have to rewrite as much (maybe), but learn how to do it anyway. Don’t be precious about your words; they’ll always exist inside of you, even if you get rid of them.
Barbara Field Core Writer
Plays include: Boundary Waters, Playing With Fire, The Book of Vashti Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a playwright I would be… A marine biologist. I am fascinated with spineless underwater animals.
Marvin González De León Core Writer PlayLabs
Plays include: The Vanquished, Haboob, Methuselah What was the most thrilling artistic experience you had recently? About a year ago, one of my best friends sent her two kids to theater camp during Spring Break back home in Nevada. The kiddos devised a show and presented it at the end of the week. It was an exercise of radical imagination. It was pure joy. “If only adults made theater like that,” I remember thinking. So, I’ve tried to follow their lead ever since.
Allison Gregory Core Writer
Plays include: Not Medea, Wild Horses, Darling Boud (as in Loud) What is your advice for finding or creating one’s artistic community? When I’m feeling invisible or discouraged, I reach out to offer support or encouragement or wild applause to someone else. Being there for other artists is self-fulfilling; it gives me a sense of usefulness when I don’t get it from outside of myself.
Dipika Guha Core Writer
Plays include: Yoga Play, The Art of Gaman, In Braunau What is the most unusual place you found inspiration for a play? Occasionally a miracle will happen, and I’ll see an image or hear a bit of dialogue that gets me in the door. Mostly, I feel inspiration is a kind of surprise, a present that might arrive when I’m looking away.
W. David Hancock
McKnight Fellow in Playwriting Plays include: Master, The Race of the Ark Tattoo, The Convention of Cartography What themes do you find yourself returning to in your writing? The outsider artist, forgotten culture, lost people, places, and things. Love, family—making magic out of what you’ve got on hand.
Core Writer Ruth Easton New Play Series Plays include: Three Viewings, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, The Government Inspector When you sit down to write a play, how do you start? I almost always outline first, jotting in notebooks, bullet points, that sort of thing. When I sit down to start, I love typing the title page, my name, the characters, the setting, the first stage directions. To me typing those first few things is like arriving in a new hotel for a nice long stay.
Many Voices Mentorship Plays include: Stranger, We So Short, 10 Hours of Rain Sounds What kind of stories have you been writing recently? Do you know why you are drawn to them? I’m really interested in prayers, parables, rituals, habits, routines, etc. The repetitive words and motions that people use to understand and control their lives. I think I’m curious about these because I grew up in a family/culture that didn’t have wealth to pass on. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve understood the legacies and inheritances in my life to be performative—stories and ways of being in the world. 24
Rachel Jendrzejewski Core Writer
Plays include: Passion, Early Morning Song, In Which ______ and Others Discover the End What play do you wish you would have written and why? I live in total awe and admiration of Non Sequitur by Khadijah Queen. I saw The Relationship’s production at Theaterlab back in 2015 (with an utterly extraordinary cast including Helga Davis), then immediately bought the book (which is gorgeously produced)... four years later, I still think about this text all the time. Ronaldo V. Wilson says this piece “crashes the contemporary moment,” and I totally agree.
Jake Jeppson Core Writer
Plays include: #bros, No Cure, Another F*cking Dad Play What advice do you have for beginning playwrights? Every writer has an idiosyncratic voice that is sparked in their childhood and forged as they grow and write. Run away from teachers who think there’s one way to write.
C. A. Johnson Core Writer
Plays include: Thirst, The Climb, all the natalie portmans Why do you write plays? I think I write plays to better understand the things that break down in the world. I’m interested in why parents sometimes harm their children, why women sometimes lie to themselves in an effort to take care of others, or why generations of Black folk have so internalized white supremacy that they perpetuate it in their own lives. I really love excavating those choices with characters and working to find empathy for them.
Many Voices Fellow Plays include: Counter-Curse, FLEX, Crackbaby What artists inspire you and why? In addition to a ton of artists whose impact and work inspire me, there are artists who have directly impacted my life and work. Those women are Alice Tuan, Kim Euell, and Margo Hall. All of these women have laid the groundwork for innovative art that speaks to their cultures; theyâ€™ve also helped to create pathways for emerging artists.
Gursimrat Kaur Core Apprentice
Plays include: Radiance, At the Battlefront, Mirza-Sahiba When did you know you wanted to be a playwright? I donâ€™t remember a specific moment in my life when I realized I wanted to be a playwright. For me, it was a gradual process. I was always fascinated by stories, and the most gratifying thing about writing a play is knowing that you will get to work with other people in a room to bring it to life. That process has been invaluable to me from my first production.
Carson Kreitzer Core Writer
Plays include: Lempicka, Capital Crime!, Lasso of Truth What is the most rewarding point for you in the writing process and why? First draft. I love a first draft. Just discovering what a play wants to be. The freedom of those wide-open spaces.
Sofya Levitsky-Weitz Core Writer PlayLabs
Plays include: be mean to me, this party sucks, Gehinnom What themes do you find yourself returning to in your writing? I find myself writing about gender and womanhood most of all. I’ve recently come to the realization that even if the play I’m writing isn’t “Jewish,” in its content specifically, it still feels like a “Jewish” play in structure. The Judaism I was raised in circles around, reflects on itself, asks questions, challenges, and has no easy answers. I embrace nuance in my writing.
McKnight Theater Artist Fellow Credits include: Nice Fish (ART, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Harold Pinter Theatre), THE HOOPLA TRAIN (Sod House Theater), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Theater Company) When you first approach a new role, how do you begin? Developing a new role is different for each production. Sometimes it involves research, sometimes a real person inspires me and I try to embody them. More times than not, I will find the physicality of the character first, or at the very least a psychological gesture that I can assign to the character. Sometimes I will first identify the traits this character and I have in common, which then brings to light the aspects of the character I will have to “act”.
Cristina Luzárraga Jerome Fellow
Plays include: Critical Distance, Millennialville, La Mujer Barbuda What kind of stories have you been interested in writing recently? Lately, I’ve been trying to write stories that are more rooted in personal experience and anxiety. I think it’s just finally sinking in that being vulnerable on the page is a sign of strength rather than weakness.
Marion McClinton Core Writer
Plays include: Beauty is a Rare Thing, Walkers, Police Boys What kind of theater or art excites you? New work that questions something about being human. Big work, epic work.
Courtney Meaker Jerome Fellow
Plays include: You Must Wear a Hat, Tiny Thin Woman Inside, Bell at the Back of her Throat What does your writing space look like? Currently, itâ€™s set up in the kitchen, near the coffee pot with a black cat close by who listens to me read out all the parts as I write them. Thereâ€™s lots of light and a giant mug I keep refilling.
Daaimah Mubashshir Core Writer
Plays include: Room Enough (For Us All), Immeasurable Want of Light, There is Something About a Clock Face What artists inspire you and why? I am deeply inspired by all the black and queer writers that have changed the game over the past few years. They all give me so much hope.
Kira Obolensky Core Writer
Plays include: The Overcoat: A Low-Fi Musical, Park and Lake, Stewardess How is theater uniquely positioned to address or reveal social issues? Theater is the one art form where we get together to imagine and witness collectively. Even the act of laughing with a group of people can be transformative. For me, theater is always about harnessing the imagination of our audiences—that act is in and of itself political.
John Olive Core Writer
Plays include: Minnesota Moon, Killer, Blood and other plays Your latest workshop at the Center was a collection of short plays. How is that process different from writing a full-length? One of the nicest things about short plays is that they require less ownership. It’s relatively easy to say, “Well, it’s a ten minute play. If it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world.” Whereas a full-length play that doesn’t work can be devastating.
Marisela Treviño Orta
Core Writer Ruth Easton New Play Series Plays include: The River Bride, Heart Shaped Nebula, Shoe What is the most rewarding point for you in the writing process and why? When I have the key to a play, the writing really takes off and just pours out, almost as if the characters are writing it for me. It’s a moment of creation. And when that happens, I get this tingling sensation at the top of my head. I think it’s a head rush—a thrill— because I know that the story is being born and I’m the one who’s creating it. 29
McKnight National Residency and Commission Plays include: NOURA, 9 Parts of Desire, FALLUJAH Have you always been involved in theater? How did it all start? I acted in my school play in second grade. It is not far from the truth to say I have wanted to do theater ever since. My interests, focus, needs, and goals have changed multiple times throughout the years—but theater as the living art through which I evolve and question has been the constant.
Core Apprentice Plays include: The Games We Play, Marigolds, Jupiter Road Describe an “aha moment” or moment of discovery you’ve had. It’s important not to let worry keep you from writing your first draft. You’ll keep moving forward, but you have to start. This is definitely a discovery that I continuously have to rediscover.
Aaron Ricciardi Core Apprentice
Plays include: Only Child, Nice Nails, The Travels: an Epic play with songs How can artists support other artists? They can take other artists as they are and avoid placing limitations on what other artists “can” or “are allowed to” do. We all have value and we all have stories to tell, and, as Amanda Dehnert told me, there’s enough theater for all of us.
McKnight Fellow in Playwriting Plays include: Legacy Land; America v. 2.1: The Sad Demise & Eventual Extinction of The American Negro; TRAPT How do you write political plays, or plays with a message, without becoming didactic? I write characters that live in an environment (political or sociological) that I’d like to explore, and I let them be human. I let them make choices that I may or may not agree with. Then, I depend on collaborators to keep me honest and tell me if they feel preached to.
Jerome Fellow Plays include: Roots, Bastard, Death in a High Place Why do you write plays? I write to become a student again and to justify my penchant for bingereading. I use elements of biography in my plays, but mostly I write to invent and learn something I will not comprehend if I do not write a play about it.
Ariel Stess Core Writer
Plays include: 4 Women, Tranquil, I’m Pretty Fucked Up When did you know you wanted to be a playwright?
I realized I wanted to be a playwright after reading True West by Sam Shepard and Fefu and her Friends by María Irene Fornés. At the time, I was a freshman at UC Santa Cruz in a theater history class. I think I read the plays back to back because I was way behind on an assignment. I remember feeling that the plays revealed the rules of our supposedly civilized society, highlighted the cruelty and humor of that society, and carved out a space for me to reflect on how I want to live and be in this world. At that moment, I couldn’t believe that something I held in my hand (a little published play) could impact me on so many levels. Being a playwright seemed totally magical and uncanny.
Andrea Stolowitz Core Writer
Plays include: Recent Unsettling Events, The Berlin Diaries, Successful Strategies What is your advice for finding or creating one’s artistic community? Make work and engage others in it. If you keep making work, you will find more people come into your universe through the collaborative nature of theater.
McKnight Theater Artist Fellow Credits include: Noises Off (Guthrie Theater), Sweeney Todd (Theatre Latté Da, Asolo Repertory Theater), Le Switch (Jungle Theatre) What advice do you have for early career designers? My advice is to learn the fundamentals. Do not skip steps early on in a rush to move up the ladder. Take the time to learn how to draw, scenic paint, build props, use a sewing machine, draft, manage a budget, etc. It will make you far more innovative and pragmatic when you really take the reins and begin designing.
James Anthony Tyler Core Writer
Plays include: Dolphins and Sharks, Some Old Black Man, Artney Jackson In what ways are playwriting and screenwriting similar? Different? In my opinion they are similar, because both playwriting and screenwriting mirror the complexities of the human experience. I think when both are done well, the audience gets to laugh and/or cry from identifying with the experiences of the characters. I think the difference is that screenwriting is a visual medium, so when writing a screenplay it’s important to think visually, and with playwriting it’s all about character first, so I’m always thinking of ways for characters to face and try to overcome challenges. Of course, there is some overlap with both mediums. 32
Core Writer Ruth Easton New Play Series Plays include: The American Tradition, Impact, Tha Chink-Mart Describe an “aha moment” or moment of discovery you’ve had. It was only after I’d written Tha Chink-Mart that I realized what writing a play should “feel” like. That something deeply “me” had been placed inside this work. It was as if I had been walking on sand, then suddenly my foot plunged very deep into the ground; into something I didn’t know existed before. Every play I’ve written since, I’ve made sure that feeling is there.
Many Voices Fellow Plays include: Interstate, Queer Heartache, Miss Step What is your relationship with re-writing? Are you a 50-drafts writer or a first-draft-is-pretty-close writer? I love rewriting. For me, that is where the magic happens. I always need to hear my work aloud immediately after a first draft (probably because my roots are in spoken word), so that’s when I’m able to do my best work, even if it’s just me reading the pages aloud. But let’s be honest, I don’t want to spend a million years writing a play. I want to live my life, so I try to write a first draft that has most of the points I want to hit already there. I’m very plot-driven, so I will spend a lot of time outlining, character sketching, and world building, and sometimes I don’t get to the dialogue or deep emotion until I hear it aloud and give it another couple of rewrites.
Stefanie Zadravec Core Writer
Plays include: Tiny Houses, Colony Collapse, Tomorrow Will Take Care of Itself When did you know you wanted to be a playwright? Late. When I went to college, you could pursue any aspect of theater work except playwriting. I was an actor for many years, oblivious to the fact that the tape running in my head was actually me writing plays. When I finally took a writing class, my teacher pulled me aside after I brought in my first 10 pages and said, “I know you think you’re an actor, but you’re really a writer.”
Regulars Regulars Regulars
Martyna Majok, rehearsing queens, 2016-17 Ruth Easton New Plays Series. Photo by Paula Keller.
The Regulars is a one-of-a-kind program connecting Playwrights’ Center writers to a curated group of 100+ new-play-producing theaters across the country. With its matchmaking expertise, the Center brings national arts leaders to the Twin Cities—to experience new work, meet with playwrights face-to-face, and take part in revolutionizing the theatrical landscape. By partnering with the Regular’s producing theaters, the Center is able to co-develop thrilling and highly contemporary work, while also fostering new collaborative connections within the field. These efforts ensure that more new plays make their way to theaters around the globe. Connect with our associate artistic director, Hayley Finn, to find out more about the program: email@example.com or (612) 332-7481 x1119. “The first place to bring a new play? The Playwrights’ Center. Over my years of a Mellon Foundation National Playwright Residency Fellowship, I developed six plays at the Playwrights’ Center before they went onto production. Each play found itself in the development process—which at the Playwrights’ Center is a completely safe, generative, and generous process. Those workshops were critical for me and a way for me to experiment, and fine tune, and really think about how these plays would meet all the many audiences that Ten Thousand Things performs for.” Kira Obolensky, on creating work for Regulars’ member theater, Ten Thousand Things
Juanita Jennings and Shawn Hamilton, performing in West of Central, 2016 PlayLabs Festival. Photo by Paula Keller.
Plays co-developed at the Playwrights’ Center that were produced during the 2018-19 Season at our Regulars theaters include West of Central by Christina Ham At Pillsbury House Theatre (Minneapolis, MN) Little Women by Kate Hamill At the Jungle Theater (Minneapolis, MN) This Bitter Earth by Harrison David Rivers New Conservatory Theatre (San Francisco, CA) The Great Leap by Lauren Yee Denver Center Theatre (Denver, CO) Fickle: A Fancy French Farce by Meg Miroshnik Olney Theatre Center (Olney, MD)
“Each development organization has its own culture and practice. I feel particularly welcome at the Playwrights’ Center due to the practice of nurturing artists in the special way you do.” Linda Chapman, New York Theatre Workshop
Membership MEMBERSHIP MEMBERSHIP
More than 2,100 playwrights around the world—of all aesthetics, forms, and experience—hone their craft and find an artistic home in our membership community. Joining the membership program grants one access to a comprehensive and curated online database of play submission opportunities, online playwriting classes and topical seminars, professional script feedback and new play development workshops, a profile on our website, twice-monthly script-sharing gatherings, educational articles on the craft and business of playwriting, and discounts at partner organizations. Being a Playwrights’ Center member means you are part of an artistic community where you are valued as an individual and as an artist. Members who engage with the Center receive personal attention, answers to their questions about the industry, guidance with locating and accessing resources, and connection to an organization they can call an artistic home. Join our thriving community of member playwrights at pwcenter.org/join
“In a cultural universe that is often competitive and downright hostile to writers, the caring support provided by the PWC is essential for playwrights of every career level. Any time a member has a question about programs, classes, readings, workshops, or career opportunities, a member of the Playwrights’ Center staff is a friendly phone call or an email away. Such support for writers is unique indeed.” Playwrights’ Center member
NEW PLAYS ON CAMPUS The New Plays on Campus program is designed to support the next generation of playwrights by giving student writers access to a playwriting community outside of their colleges and universities, connecting them to playwriting resources, and opportunities to work with professional playwrights. For member colleges and universities, the Playwrights’ Center tailors supplementary playwriting seminars and classes geared toward preparing students to bridge the gap between college and life as a playwright, provides students the opportunity to work with professional playwrights through residencies, commissions, and collaborative work, and offers a script-matching service for theater departments looking for new work for their stages. Participating schools may also nominate students to become Playwrights’ Center Core Apprentices, a unique and high-profile opportunity. In partnership with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, the Core Apprentice program provides three student playwrights annually with a year-long mentorship with a professional playwright which culminates in a full play development workshop at the Playwrights’ Center. Recent mentors have included Julia Cho, David Henry Hwang, and Dominique Morisseau. To learn more about this program, contact Education Programs Manager Sarah Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit pwcenter.org/npoc.
Students from Spelman and Morehouse Colleges with Professor Erin Washington, NPOC Summer Residency. Photo by Jessica Franken.
thank you The Playwrights’ Center gratefully acknowledges our funding partners and donors. Represents gifts from April 1, 2018 – July 31, 2019
INDIVIDUALS $10,000+ Anonymous (1) Omar and Rebecca Ansari Barry Berg and Walter Tambor Barb Davis* Barbara Field Mary Beidler Gearen* Diane and Mark* Perlberg Wayne Zink and Christopher Schout*
$5,000–$9,999 Jeffrey Bores* and Michael Hawkins Geoffrey M. Curley* and Associates Mary Anne Ebert and Paul Stembler* Elizabeth Grant Tessa Gunther and Scott Hagg Bruce and Jean Johnson David and Leni Moore Family Foundation Peter and Carla* Paulson Family Fund Harrison David Rivers* and Christopher R. Bineham Dana and Steve* Strand Margaret VB Wurtele
$2,500–$4,999 Eric Anderson and Roger Beck Anonymous (1) Peter and Maura* Brew Robert P. Englund Polly Grose Jeff Hedlund* and Amy Apperson
Sara Johnson John and Kathy Junek Rebecca Krull Kraling* and James Kraling Brian Kuntz and Curtis Weldon Heather and John Leiviska Jennifer Melin Miller and David Miller Randall and Gail Ross Ginger Wilhelmi*
Adam Rao* and Elizabeth Emery Rosenbaum-Gilbert Family Foundation Mary and Adam Sellke Marcia and John Stout John Sullivan Weiser Family Foundation Greg Giles and Teresa West William White
Anonymous (2) Toni Nebel Bjorklund and Lee Bjorklund Robert and Emily Chelimsky Jeremy Cohen and Michael Elyanow Dan Dietz John Geelan and Megan Feeney David Goldstein and Don Pastor Chelle and Mike Gonzo Sam and Shani Graber Char Hovi* Janet Jones and Rob Reul Dr. Art Kaemmer Miriam and Erwin Kelen Kinder Vealitzek Family Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation Lucy Rosenberry Jones and James E. Johnson Mr. and Mrs. Chad M. Larsen/ Larsen Fund Annie Lebedoff* Robert and Vivian McDonald Firouzeh Mostashari Wendy Nelson
Jane Blanch William Casey Jon Newman and Brooks Christensen Susan Conley De Castro Fran Davis Erika and Nathan Eklund Beth Gaede Karen Grabow and Keith Halperin Amy Warner and Michael Haney Mary and Royce Kloehn Sally and Jonathan Lebedoff Charlie and Anne Leck Walt McCarthy and Clara Ueland Ed McConaghay and Margaret Telfer Kira Obolensky and Irve Dell James A. Payne Eric Britt and Michelle Pett Brian Pietsch and Christopher Hermann Charlie Quimby and Susan Cushman
Donald and Linda Silpe Steven Snyder and Sherry Stern Joe Waechter and Jeremy Mickel Suzanne Weinstein and Danny Levey
$250â€“$499 Peggy Steif Abram and Jon Abram Anonymous (1) Patricia Barrier Sarah and Matt Chaplin Lee Blessing and Melanie Marnich George Brant and Laura Kepley Robert P. and Debbie A. Brown Andrew Caddock Leny Cohen Jay and Page Cowles Larissa Kokernot and Karl Gajdusek* Mark and Jane Gavens Craig Harris and Candy Kuehn Katie Hey Bobbi and Louis Kaplan Faye Knowles and Doug Muirhead Alexandra Kulijewicz Doug and Mary Logeland Robert and Lucy Mitchell Timothy Pabst and Dana Lindsay George Steitz Meg and Stephen Swanson Paula Vogel Harry Waters Jr.* and Thomas Borrup Ruth and Carl Weiner Jane Zilch
$100â€“$249 Connie Anderson Howard J. Ansel Mark Arneson Karen Bachman and Robert Fisch James Ball
Kate Beckman Zak Berkman and Teri Lamm Jeannette and Jeffrey Bineham dik Bolger and Carmen Gutierrez-Bolger Carlyle Brown* and Barbara Rose-Brown Bob and Carolyn Bye Joy and Ron Carlson Jeanne Corwin Joshua Dorothy and Nadege Souvenir Marilyn J. Doyle Hayley Finn and Andrew Dolan Janie Finn Nancy Finn Peter Fleck and Mary Weber Seth Freeman Pamela and Joshua Gruber Leah Harvey and Steve Rosholt Pierre and Juliane Hecker Pamela Heilman Cecily Hines and Thomas Pettus Kaethe Morris Hoffer and Matt Hoffer Morris Julie Jensen Sarah Johnston Shirley and Arnold Kaplan Terence Kilburn David Kim* Jonna Kosalko and Dan Rabin Neal and Abigail Kreitzer Joe Kuznik Erik Lanegran Sigi Leonhard Edith Leyasmeyer Karen Hartman and Todd London Perry Lueders Beth MacDonald Anne Mahle and David McCarthy David Manderson Jeff Masco Timothy Mason Sam and Patty McCullough R. Troy Miller Patricia Mitchell
Patricia Murphy Jon Neuse and K.C. Foley David Odenbach and John Stefany Tonja Orr Jim and Susan Peterson Beth Pfeifer Denise Prosek and Milton Ferris Roger Purdy and Janet Hey Larry Redmond and Eddie Ellington Audray Rees Christopher Reeves and Mary Ann Nord Shannon Robinson Charlene K. Roise Bill Schoppert Kenneth and Katie Searl Jerrie Steele Seema Sueko Virginia Sundberg Elizabeth Thimmesh and Matthew Johnson Andrew Troth Gene Valek Jean Watson and Christopher McLaughlin Wendy Weckwerth Beth Wegener Michael Wilson and Jeff Cowie Sally Wingert and Tim Danz Michael Winn* Joan Heule Wright and Jeffrey Wright Stephanie Yankwitt Laura Zabel and Levi Weinhagen Lee Zukor and Laura Zimmermann
Up to $99 Anonymous (1) Chris and Mary Apgar Donald and Joyce Arneson Marcia Aubineau Carol Barnett Theresa Beckhusen and Salvatore Pane
Ann M. Biggar Edward Bok Lee Florence Brammer Ginny and Will Craig Philip Dawkins John DeLaire Robert C Droddy Philip Duran Emilee Elofson Scott Elyanow Jill Engeswick Seymour and Annette Gavens Robin Gillette Susana Gluck Connie Goldman Ain Gordon Janet Allen and Joel Grynheim Matt Haar Alex Hagen Christina Ham Andrew and Amy Jendrzejewski Rachel Jendrzejewski Mervyn Kaufman Adeeb Khalid and Cheryl Duncan Brad and Toni Knorr Krystal Kohler and Dan Norris Carol Lichterman Nance Longley Bruce Manning and Tricia Cornell Matthew McIver Lynne Menturweck Ellen Merlin Winter Miller Miriam Must Jennifer and Joe Novak John Olive and Mary Brozic Tyler Olsen Barb and Rick Person Noël Raymond and Amy Finch Ryan and Marit Ripley Whitney Rowland Virginia and Perry Rutter Ralph Schnorr Amanda Schroder Lipica Shah Michael Shann
Barbara Shelton Mat Smart Rossi and Penelope Snipper Don Sommers and Brad Shark Philip Spensley Eric Sumangil Carl Atiya Swanson and Stacy Schwartz Ken Urban Monica and David Walsh Ellen and John Walthour Judy Wendt Lori-Anne Williams
IN KIND Afro Deli Steven Dietz Dual Citizen Brewing Co. HGA Architects & Engineers Rebecca Krull Kraling* McKnight Foundation Jon Newman and Brooks Christensen Pizza Lucé Precision Grind
*Playwrights’ Center board member To donate to the Playwrights’ Center, visit pwcenter.org/donate
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust
Up to $999
Boss Foundation Dual Citizen Brewing Co. The Head Family Foundation KNOCK, Inc. Piper Jaffray RBC Wealth Management Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation VSA Minnesota
Carolyn Foundation Faegre Baker Daniels Foundation Securian Financial Foundation
Amazon Smile Best Buy Foundation CoBank NorthstarMLS
ZoÃ« Geltman, rehearsing KARA & EMMA & BARBARA & MIRANDA, 2018 PlayLabs Festival. Photo by Paula Keller.
Playwrightsâ€™ Center staff
Jeremy B. Cohen, Producing Artistic Director Robert Chelimsky, Managing Director Alayna Barnes, Membership and Development Coordinator Julia Brown, Artistic Programs Manager Youyou Chen, Media Coordinator Gregory Collins, Director of Marketing and Communications Hayley Finn, Associate Artistic Director Kathleen Hansen, Accountant H. Adam Harris, Education Coordinator Katie Hey, Director of Development Hannah Joyce-Hoven, Director of Membership Programs Daniel Alexander Jones, Many Voices Program Mentor Emily Matthees, Executive Staff Administrator Sarah Myers, Education Programs Manager Whitney Rowland, Institutional Development Manager
Playwrightsâ€™ Center board Carla Paulson, President Barb Davis, Vice President Adam Rao, Treasurer Maura Brew, Secretary Jeffrey Bores Carlyle Brown Geoffrey Curley Karl Gajdusek Mary Beidler Gearen Jodi Grundyson Jeff D. Hedlund Charlyne Hovi David Kim Becky Krull Kraling Annie Lebedoff Mark Perlberg Harrison David Rivers Christopher Schout Paul Stembler Steve Strand Harry Waters Jr. Ginger Wilhelmi Michael Winn Jeremy B. Cohen, ex officio Robert Chelimsky, ex officio
Season booklet design: Youyou Chen Art direction: Gregory Collins
Masanari Kawahara, 2019 McKnight Theater Artist Works in Progress. Photo by Paula Keller.
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