MINNEAPOLIS: Playwrights’ Center has announced its 2021-24 Core Writers and, along with the McKnight Foundation, its 2021-22 McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting and National Residency and Commission. The newly announced Core Writers are Mathilde Dratwa, L M Feldman, Franky D. Gonzalez, Yilong Liu, TyLie Shider, Deborah Yarchun, and Nathan Yungerberg. These seven writers will receive the space and support to create over the next three years.
“I am so excited for Playwrights’ Center to have the opportunity to support these incoming writers, all of whose work I have deeply admired for quite some time,” said Playwrights’ Center producing artistic director Jeremy B. Cohen in a statement. “They are all incredible artists and I have no doubt, as the theatre field focuses on building equitable practices as it returns from this shutdown, their work, their voices, and their visions will propel us forward into a dauntless new future for theatre.”
The Core Writer program supports playwrights who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence. During the three-year tenure, Core Writers receive play development workshops, have the opportunity to be part of the PlayLabs festival or the Ruth Easton New Play Series, and connect with a network of producing theatres. The program is designed to forward the career of both emerging and established writers. Full bios for the Core Writer cohort are available here.
“The feeling of knowing that you have the space and support to figure out your weird, messy, experimental, not-yet-ready, but ambitious new plays before you even start writing them is encouraging and assuring,” said playwright Yilong Liu in a statement. “It’s kinda like knowing you have the rent for your apartment—in this case, an artistic home—for the next three years. It will help create a sense of belonging for me.”
Also announced was James Anthony Tyler as the recipient of the 2021-22 McKnight National Residency and Commission. The National Residency and Commission funds the creation and development of new works and includes a $15,000 commission and up to $12,250 in workshop funds to develop a play and public reading.
“This commission and residency means the world to me,” said Tyler in a statement. “The Playwrights’ Center is one of my favorite artistic homes. I know that I’ll get top-notch support. It feels like whenever I have had periods of doubting my artistic sensibility, the Playwrights’ Center has come along to affirm my voice.”
Additionally, JuCoby Johnson and Cristina Luzárraga are the recipients of 2021-22 McKnight Fellowships in Playwriting. The Fellowship in Playwriting awards two Minnesota-based playwrights with a $25,000 stipend, $2,500 to support play development and other expenses, and $1,400 in travel funds.
“A career in theatre is more precarious than ever, and I’m humbled by this opportunity to double down in my commitment to playwriting,” said Luzárraga in a statement. “Like most people, I’m starved for social interaction, and I can’t wait till we can collaborate again in shared space. We’re all trying to imagine a better future for theatre, and I’m grateful to the Playwrights’ Center for facilitating those difficult conversations.”
Full bios for Tyler, Luzárraga, and Johnson are available here. Each year, the Playwrights’ Center serves as an artistic home for over 40 playwriting fellows and Core Writers, in addition to supporting over 2,300 member playwrights across the globe. The fellowship programs have anchored the Center’s support of playwrights and theatremakers for nearly 50 years.
“Our longtime partnership with the McKnight Foundation has been critical as we work together to create a new paradigm for theatremaking in this country,” said the Cohen in a statement. “We of course look forward to in-person theatrical gatherings again, but we are adamant that the theatre industry does not return to the pre-pandemic status quo riddled with systemic inequities. To have the support of the McKnight Foundation, which is equally committed to creating a world where everyone can thrive, is truly encouraging.”
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