Playwrights’ Center Announces 2023-24 Fellows and Core Writers
L-R: Gethsemane Herron, Rachel Jendrzejewski
DG members Gethsemane Herron and Rachel Jendrzejewski were selected as the Playwrights‘ Center’s 2023-24 McKnight Fellows

Minneapolis, MN The Playwrights’ Center has announced a new cohort of Fellows and Core Writers for its 2023-24 season. Each playwright will receive highly tailored artistic, financial, and professional support throughout their fellowship and beyond. 

Founded in 1971 by five writers seeking artistic and professional support, the Playwrights’ Center today serves more playwrights in more ways than any other organization in the country. One of the nation’s most generous and well-respected theatre organizations, the Playwrights’ Center focuses on both supporting playwrights and promoting new plays to production at theaters across the country. 

*Ed. Note: Guild members are denoted by an asterisk.

McKnight Fellows in Playwriting 2023-24

The McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting recognizes and supports mid-career playwrights living and working in Minnesota who demonstrate a sustained body of work, commitment, and attributes of artistic merit. 

Gethsemane HerrON*

“This fellowship means unencumbered time to focus on my craft, but also my person. It’s time to delve into home. Time to meet and befriend the incredible artisans of the Twin Cities.”

Rachel JendrzejewskI*

“This fellowship is profoundly meaningful to me. I've been reckoning with a cancer diagnosis (first early stage and now advanced), which has completely upended my life. It's been difficult to know how to think about art, and career, and the future in general. Yet this fellowship reminds me that I'm still a writer, not just a cancer patient; that it's okay to move at my own pace; that so much remains possible.”

McKnight National Residency and Commission 2023-24

The McKnight National Residency and Commission supports an established playwright from outside of Minnesota who demonstrates a sustained body of work, commitment, and distinct artistic vision. The recipient of the Residency and Commission will create a new play and develop it at Playwrights' Center. 

Aya Ogawa

“This residency and commission will allow me –– or maybe FORCE me –– to prioritize my writing by carving out the time and space I need to work on my play Meat Suit: the shitshow of motherhood. I've been wanting to write about the devastating and euphoric experiences of motherhood for many years, but ironically, my responsibilities as a mom have gotten in the way. Now that my kids are a bit older and more capable, it's time for me to center my own experiences as a parent and to uplift other mothers.”

McKnight Theater Artist Fellows 2023-24

The McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship at Playwrights’ Center recognizes theater artists other than playwrights. The program recognizes and supports mid-career artists living and working in Minnesota who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and attributes of artistic merit. 

D J Gramman II

“The gig economy has its churn, juggling gigs due to the uncertainty of future gigs. The pandemic shutdown reinforced this uncertainty. The McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship at Playwrights’ Center will allow me a respite from the churn with time, energy, and a budget to take a deeper dive into my creative origins.”

Darrick Mosley

“This fellowship will provide space in my life to continue my artistic expansion and to be an agent for change through my artistry.”

Karin Olson

“Fellowships like this are a crucial acknowledgment for theater designers like me. So often, we move on to other projects before the opening night applause, and our contributions aren't mentioned in the reviews because our art exists to support the work of others. It’s such a confidence boost to spend a few minutes in the spotlight instead of aiming it!”

Many Voices Fellows 2023-25

Many Voices Fellowships support early-career Black playwrights, playwrights of color, and/or Indigenous playwrights who demonstrate extraordinary potential and artistic vision. The fellowship is newly expanded from a one-year to a two-year residency. 

Jarek Pastor

“These past few years have been demanding we find different ways of approaching the ways we live, the art we make, and even how we make and present it. I don’t think those demands will stop until we see them through. Through this lens, [this fellowship is] an opportunity to be more active in my contributions to that artistic and social conversation.”

Josiah Thomas Turner*

“When I first decided I wanted to be a playwright, Playwrights' Center's website was the first resource I found. . . To actually get a chance to work with Playwrights' Center and receive support at this level is a dream I've had since I started down this artistic path: it's incredibly validating. This Fellowship offers time and space to breathe, grow, and create; something invaluable in the life of an artist no matter what career level.”

Liqing Xu

“This fellowship means that I will be able to focus the majority of my time on my creative practice within a cohort of other playwrights who are all committed to their art. It means that I will be able to experiment and be brave enough to both push myself and also fail, while being institutionally supported, which is a rare thing in our field.”

Many Voices Mentee 2023-24

The Many Voices Mentorship offers writing and development support to a Minnesota-based beginning Black playwright, playwright of color, and/or Indigenous playwright.

Michelle de Joya

“This mentorship means so much to me because it's already given me the small confirmation and affirmation I'd been craving to know this is good for me to change directions and begin exploring the creative/generative side of theater making, not only the interpretive side.”

Jerome Fellows 2023-25

Playwrights' Center's Jerome Fellowship supports early-career playwrights who demonstrate extraordinary potential and artistic vision. The fellowship is newly expanded from a one-year to a two-year residency.

Paul KrusE*

“This fellowship is permission to deepen my relationship with the Midwest, the part of the country that made me. It’s a chance to continue to be present with my family of origin and to make lasting new relationships here.”

Nubia Monks

“After completing the Jerome Fellowship in 2022, I felt like I was just getting my feet wet. I wanted more time and more resources to continue what I had started. I am elated that the opportunity has come back around to me, and that I get two years to develop new work, and make the necessary connections to elevate my career as a writer.”

MK Tuomanen

“This is an opportunity to open my heart fully to the process of writing: an invitation to space, vulnerability and new friends. It is an invitation to use my voice as a writer, for which I am humbled and grateful. I am ready to know and be known in new ways. New light is flooding into a relatively private corner of my creative life. I am excited and terrified to step into it!”

Venturous Playwright Fellows 2023-25

The mission of the Venturous Playwright Fellowship at Playwrights’ Center is to provide playwrights with the resources to sustain them in writing bold and theatrical new work, support the development of risk-taking plays, and build intentional relationships between these writers and producing theaters to move these plays to production. 

Harmon dot auT*

Tornado Tastes Like Aluminum Sting
In partnership with Spectrum Theatre Ensemble and the Contemporary American Theater Festival

“What does the Venturous program mean to me? Production! New plays and musicals and an opera I have in mind and this (dis)ability ballet I've been thinking about for years and oh, the films I've got over here to make and that immersive sensory tech theater project and I’ve got fractals in my head full of ideas. I am full of gratitude.”

L M FeldmaN*

Another Kind of Silence
In partnership with City Theatre Company, Curious Theatre Company, and The VORTEX

“I write large-scale, theatrically sumptuous plays with two intermissions, or two languages, or an acrobatic movement vocabulary, or a cast of 13. And like most artist ruffians, I struggle to find homes for my work. So as a Venturous Fellow, I’m feeling heartened and newly inspired to find a wider cohort of producing collaborators who, like me, crave the dynamic, the poetic, and the breathtakingly theatrical.”

Jessica Huang*

Mother of Exiles
In partnership with Florida Studio Theatre

“I've been dying to share this play with the world, and have been so afraid that the venturous aspects of it - the content, cast size, heightened theatricality - would be a barrier. It is beyond affirming that those are exactly the elements of this play that are being celebrated.”

Core Writers 2023-26

Six playwrights joined the Playwrights’ Center’s group of Core Writers. The Core Writer Program is a three-year appointment designed to support a diverse group of playwrights who demonstrate a sustained body of work, commitment, and attributes of artistic merit. It annually gives 25-35 of the most exciting playwrights from across the country the time and tools to develop new work for the stage. 

Katie Bender*

“Being a Core Writer means that for three years I'll have the opportunity to work with an artistic community in the Twin Cities that really feels like family. It means getting to invite new folks to the process. It means knowing that I'm supported in my writing and that I can really explore in development.”

Benjamin Benne*

“This return to Playwrights' Center, as a Core Writer, couldn’t have been better timed as I get to revisit a place that has been “home” in a familiar building, in a familiar city, with familiar leadership and also get to experience its transition to a new city, new building, with new leadership. What a wonderful opportunity to experience and celebrate this beloved institution as it goes through this transformational moment!”

Andrew Lee Creech*

“There’s a persistent belief that being a writer is a deeply solitary act. And while there’s certainly truth to it, theatre isn’t solitary... We need other hearts and souls to share in this process. And sometimes we need other folks to just say ‘we believe in you.’ The Core Writer program is so essential because it does just that. It opens its arms to playwrights and says, ‘We believe in you.’”

Cristina Luzárraga*

“Being a Core Writer is a vote of confidence to keep on keeping on in an art form and business with a high bar of entry."

Julián Mesri*

“[Being a Core Writer] means being part of a community of creators – and having an artistic home as a writer at a time when there is such a dearth of places for people to simply be allowed to create and experiment new work.”

Sarah Sander

“In an industry as mercurial and capricious as ours, it’s the community and camaraderie that sustains me. Beyond the invaluable developmental opportunities the fellowship provides, I’m most excited about meeting, collaborating with, and befriending fellow theater-makers.”

Core Apprentice Writers 2023-24

Playwrights' Center’s Core Apprentice program offers fully funded play development workshops for three student playwrights combined with a nine-month mentorship with a professional playwright. The program is offered in partnership with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

Kandace James*

“Finding out that I’m a Core Apprentice feels like my momma’s smile, like a chin held up to the sky, like coming home to warm hands, like a slow dance, like ‘talk to me sweet,’ like a soft, soft river cutting through the soil, like telling your granny you're a Core Apprentice and her saying, ‘Of course, I prayed for you.’”

Malena Pennycook*

“I’m experimenting with different ways text and bodies can collide to make theater. And I’m specifically curious about how a playscript can invite physicality... It’s a gift to have the resources to meditate on something so open ended and formal. I think it'll have a long term impact on my artistic trajectory.” 

Jesús I. Valles

“Programs like the Core Apprenticeship are endlessly valuable for playwrights because they assure emerging writers that there is a place for them in the craft and its tradition; confirmation that their voice has found a medium it can manifest in.”