In honor of our Season in Review, I offer a list of new plays in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region that either happened or was supposed to happen. I can say with confidence that this list is by no means complete. The sheer quantity of new work that is developed and produced in the Twin Cities never fails to amaze me. The closings have rocked us, but for every cancelation there is a vow to return to a show when it’s safe to do so again, and a commitment to each other and the work we do even as we don’t know how and when or why we’ll put our hearts on the line again when it hurts so much. And so, I offer you this list knowing I’m missing someone’s baby who just made it to production before the shutdown or was put on hold until further notice. Forgive me for any omissions. Here’s to all the playwrights (everywhere) with broken hearts. I can’t wait to see your work on stage when this is all over. Or online, in the meantime.
Two important new works that made it to production in our region before the crisis hit centered transgender characters. Superman Becomes Lois Lane at the History Theatre told the story of Susan Kimberly in her own words. Susan became the first transgender person to be Deputy Mayor of a major city—St. Paul, Minnesota. I’m so grateful this production wasn’t cut short. Not so fortunate: the world premiere of Interstate at Mixed Blood by Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellows KIT YAN and MELISSA LI, which closed early. I’m glad to say I had a chance to see it and enjoyed a talkback with the creators and the DG’s own Tari Stratton when she was in town with Amy VonMacek for member events.
[A lot of work was canceled or postponed, along with] the whole damn 2020 Minnesota Fringe Festival. DG Ambassador HEATHER MEYER reminds us, “The cancellation of the Minnesota Fringe Festival is completely understandable during this time, and yet is still a loss for new work in the Minnesota. Every year, the Minnesota Fringe provides a platform for playwrights, devisors, and dramatists to experiment and share brand new plays. It’s a wild, wonderful, weird coming together of the performing arts with artists in Minnesota and visiting from around the globe. In addition to the artistic output, there’s a deep sense of community between artists and audiences during the ten-day festival celebrating and supporting the work. This community is not canceled of course and we’re all looking forward to next year’s festival because the fringe is such an incredible opportunity for new work.”
So that’s how we cope. The community is not canceled. We’re being kind to one another. We’re taking care of ourselves and our audiences. And we’re looking forward. As of this writing, Springboard for the Arts’ Personal Emergency Relief Fund has supported 735 artists in need with gifts totaling $356,000, thanks to donations from people like you. Theater Latté Da is doubling down on its new work development with the launch of “Next Up,” an “intensive laboratory investing in the future of musical theater.” History Theatre continues the commissioning and development of new work, moving their Raw Stages Festival online.
The Playwrights’ Center continues to support theaters and playwrights across the country, presenting online readings of new work, and announcing 2020-21 Jerome Fellows CANDRICE JONES, SHANNON TL KEARNS, and TYLIE SHIDER; Many Voices Fellows Cristina Florncia Castro and KATIE KA VANG; and Many Voices Mentees JuCoby Johnson and Nora Montañez.
Two local playwrights are National Playwright Residency Program recipients from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: SAYMOUKDA DUANGPHOUXAY VOUNGSAY with Theatre Mu and CARLYLE BROWN with Illusion Theater.
I could go on. And that’s the gist of it, isn’t it? We must.