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Top row: Sunny Thao, Katie Rein. Bottom row: Philip de Sa e Silva, Emma Y. Lai.

Theater Mu Creates Emerging Playwrights Circle

The inaugural cohort includes Philip de Sa e Silva, Emma Y. Lai, Katie Rein, and Sunny Thao.

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, MINN.: Theater Mu has launched the Mu Emerging Playwrights’ Circle, a program designed to help local Asian American playwrights start their careers. The program is designed and facilitated by Mu literary associate Jane Peña and Mu artistic associate Annie Jin Wang.  The inaugural 2022 members are playwrights Philip de Sa e Silva, Emma Y. Lai, Katie Rein, and Sunny Thao.

In a statement, Pena said, “Annie and I could not be more thrilled to see this cohort launch this summer. We are so excited to nurture and get to know these four Twin Cities playwrights by writing, reading, and attending theatre together during these eight weeks. We have spent so long dreaming about this, and we can’t wait to finally experience the fruition of the Mu Emerging Playwrights’ Circle.”  

Pena and Wang felt that the theatre field, and the arts in general, lacked context about Asian American needs and experiences, so the MU Emerging Playwright’s Circle emerged to fill that gap. The four members will meet virtually over eight weeks to workshop drafts, discuss industry practices and opportunities, and network with guest artists from the theatrical industry. Members receive a stipend and comp tickets to local productions in the city such as Artistry, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Guthrie Theater, History Theatre, Lyric Arts, Minnesota Fringe Festival, and Park Square Theatre.

“The Mu Emerging Playwrights’ Circle is an exciting part of Mu’s commitment to nurturing and developing early-career Asian American theatre artists,” Mu artistic director Lily Tung Crystal said in a statement. “Like our Mu Tang Clan, Mu Training Institute, and design, directing, and dramaturgy assistantships and fellowships, the cohort will widen the artist circle not only for Mu, but for Asian American theatre at large. And it couldn’t be in better hands with such generous and astute artists as Jane and Annie.” 

In a statement, Wang said, “The Mu Emerging Playwrights’ Circle was born out of our desire to create a foundational space for emerging Asian American artists to generate their body of work in an environment that will specifically serve them. Through my own work with Mu over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to experience firsthand the vibrancy of the Twin Cities theatre community, and it’s very exciting to see that our artists’ development will be supported not just by this program, but by many other theatres in the area.”

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