MINNEAPOLIS: Theater Mu, the nation’s second-largest Asian American theatre company, has announced the members of its first playwrights’ incubator program, the Mu Tang Clan. The program is specifically designed for Asian American playwrights by Theater Mu’s Mellon Foundation playwright-in-residence Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, the 2021/22 Mu Tang Clan cohort includes Marlina Gonzalez and Kathy Haddad of Minneapolis; Keiko Green from La Jolla, Calif.; Alex Lin of Saddle River, N.J.; and Susan Xu from San Francisco.
“The quality and caliber of the playwrights who applied were incredible,” Vongsay said in a statement. “Their experiences, voices, interests, and goals were richly varied. I came into my role as the playwright-in-residence at Mu knowing in my heart and belly that I wanted to grow with a community of Asian American playwrights.”
Theater Mu unexpectedly received nearly 100 applicants to the incubator. “When we first conceived of the Mu Tang Clan,” said artistic director Lily Tung Crystal in a statement, “we thought we’d receive maybe 15 or so applicants, and it would be a way for us to meet and develop new Asian American writers and give space for more established playwrights to write and support each other. We never imagined we’d get such a huge response from around the country.
“It’s heartening and exciting to see so many talented and experienced Asian American writers giving voice to our stories, especially during this time of intense anti-Asian violence,” Tung Crystal continued. “Telling our narratives gives a face and a voice to those in our community. The more people who know our stories, the more they’ll see us as the true Americans that we are. The sheer volume of applicants shows that these spaces are needed now more than ever.”
Added Vongsday in a statement, “Many expressed their need for empowering programs like Mu Tang Clan that offer intentionally safer spaces for Asian American writers—spaces where you don’t have to include asterisks or italicize anything about yourself. You won’t always find that in ‘traditional’ American theatre spaces.”
Mu’s leadership plans to keep these sentiments in mind as the company launches a second playwriting incubator designed by Mu’s literary associate, Jane Peña, and artistic associate, Annie Wang. Intended for new and emerging playwrights, this cohort will focus on mentorship and developing a body of work. More information will be available in January 2022.
Mu Tang Clan cohort finalists included Boni Alvarez (Los Angeles), Gursimrat Kaur (Austin), and Geetha Reddy (Burlingame, Calif.). Semi-finalists included Kat Agudo (Austin), Jeesun Choi (Brooklyn), Damon Chua (New York City), Tracy Held (Burbank, Calif.), Michelle de Joya (Minneapolis), Tessa King (Mill Valley, Calif.), Kathy Ng (Providence, R.I.), Matthew Park (New York City), Nicholas Pilapil (Santa Ana, Calif.), Jasmine Sharma (Evanston, Ill.), Gregory Keng Strasser (Washington, D.C.), Sango Tajima (Oakland, Calif.), and Oanh Vu (Minneapolis).
The Mu Tang Clan will meet bi-monthly over Zoom from summer through December, with public presentations held in August 2021 and January 2022. This program is made possible through a generous grant from the Science Museum of Minnesota’s 2021 Race Exhibition Mini Grants and through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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