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"Skin Deep Sea" by Stanton Wood at Workhaus Playwrights Collective in 2015.
"Skin Deep Sea" by Stanton Wood at Workhaus Playwrights Collective in 2015.

Workhaus Collective Will Disband After 10 Years

The playwright-driven Minneapolis organization, having fulfilled its mission, will cease operations after its final production this spring.

MINNEAPOLIS: The Workhaus Collective has announced that it will disband this spring after 10 years. Carson Kreitzer’s Lasso of Truth at the Playwrights’ Center will be the Collective’s final production.

“With member playwrights enjoying productions and winning awards across Minnesota and the country—and five former members now enjoying prosperous careers on the West Coast—we thought that 10 years and 25 brand new plays was an ideal time to celebrate our successes and move on to the next chapter in all of our careers,” said member playwright Alan Berks in a statement.

Since 2006, the Collective has given emerging Minneapolis-based playwrights the opportunity to have complete creative control over their productions. It was similar in model to other playwright-run organizations such as the Washington, D.C.–based Welders and 13P in New York City; each playwright in the collective took turns being the artistic director of the company when it was time for their productions, with complete administrative responsibility and creative control of their work. The other company members would assist in marketing, development, and house management.

Current members are Trista Baldwin, Berks, Jeannine Coulombe, Christina Ham, Kreitzer, Dominic Orlando, Stanton Wood, and associate member Sarah Myers. Emeritus members include Deborah Stein, Cory Hinkle, Victoria Stewart, and Joe Waechter.

“Workhaus demonstrates the viability and the power of playwright-centric productions, and how valuable it is for playwrights to control a budget, and control the artistic choices, and the financial artistic trade-offs that any kind of production process entails,” said Stanton Wood in a statement.

Kreitzer’s Lasso of Truth (April 15—May 1) will be directed by Leah Cooper. It explores the history of Wonder Woman, who was created by William Marston—also the creator of the first lie detector machine.

“The most amazing thing for me was being a part of this culture of radical generosity, that we supported one another’s work for 10 years,” said Kreitzer in a statement. “No matter how busy our own careers have been. That’s important to me personally—and also has made me a better theater artist, in understanding how everything works and doing what needs to get done for a production to happen.”

But just because the Collective is gone doesn’t mean it will be forgotten. In winter 2016, Workhaus will publish an anthology of the plays they’ve produced; the book will also contain essays about the Collective’s model of production. The release of the anthology of work from the Collective will be marked by a Book Release Party and Community Celebration hosted by the Playwrights’ Center.

Work produced by the Collective has received awards and recognition including the Ivey Award, a New York Times Critics’ Pick, and a Drama Desk Award nomination. The plays have also been finalists for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Yale Drama Series Prize, and featured in the Tokyo International Festival in Japan and 2011 Santiago a Mil Festival in Chile.

The Collective became the company-in-residence at the Playwrights Center in 2007. When they disband after Lasso of Truth, the Collective will be leaving behind no outstanding debt.

“In a field that can often create a milieu of competition amongst artists, Workhaus has served as a beacon for the power of what can happen when a group of artists come together to support one another’s idiosyncratic processes, as much as their own,” said Playwrights’ Center artistic director Jeremy Cohen in a statement. “Workhaus Collective has been a vital component of programming at the Playwrights’ Center over the past decade, particularly in how the Collective has expressed the idea of playwrights as leaders and visionaries.”

  • Eric Williams

    It’s always upsetting to hear when a theatre is closing down for good. What interested me about this article is that the theatre and everyone involved seems very ready to move on to the next chapter of their lives. It’s very different for me to see because I always hear about fundraisers and “save the theatre” donations, but with this one everyone seems perfectly fine to move on. And I think that’s kind of beautiful. Allow me to quote Vision from Avengers: Age of Ultron, “…But a thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.” From what this article presented, this theatre company was very successful with it’s work and produced numerous stellar shows. I wish everyone who is involved the best of luck in their future.

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