Roger Q. Mason Awarded McKnight National Residency and Commission by Playwrights’ Center
Roger Q. Mason
Playwright Roger Q. Mason. Photo by Jason Armond for Los Angeles Times.

Minneapolis, MN – Acclaimed Black Filipinx playwright and Kilroys List honoree Roger Q. Mason has been awarded the McKnight National Residency and Commission from the prestigious Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, MN. Mason will travel to Minneapolis to create a new play, receive development support, and engage with local artists and Playwrights’ Center staff and fellows.

Mason is an award-winning writer, performer and educator who uses the lens of history to disrupt the biases that divide rather than unite us. While in Minnesota, Mason plans to develop a new performance work called MAHOGANY HALL, celebrating and probing the life and legacy of Lulu White, one of the most (in)famous madams of Storyville, the red light district of turn-of-the-century New Orleans.

“The McKnight Residency will provide me with the creative community necessary to build a project with rigor and depth of aesthetic experimentation that is MAHOGANY HALL,” said playwright Roger Q. Mason. “We’re looking at the intersection of theater, history, sexuality, music, and community. I’ve done vigorous research, ethnographic inquiry, and experiential education ideation to prepare for this moment and I’m so honored to come home to Playwrights’ Center and write this story down so the world can see it. And we get to show it too at the end, which will be thrilling!”

“I am so excited to welcome Roger Q. Mason to our Twin Cities artistic community!” said Playwrights’ Center Director of Fellowship Lynde Rosario. “While this Fellowship recognizes a nationally established writer based outside of Minnesota, their time with us is geared toward collaboration and community-building. From what I know of Roger Q. Mason, collaboration and community-building are two things they do so beautifully, with a spirit of generosity and care.”

The intent of the McKnight National Residency and Commission is to support 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 which will be developed with Playwrights’ Center through a series of workshops and will culminate in a public reading of the play. Recipients will not be required to move to Minnesota but will have opportunities to engage with local artists and Playwrights’ Center staff and fellows throughout their term. One of the goals of this program is to create dialogue between Minnesota-based artists and those outside of the community. Benefits include: a $15,000 commission, up to $12,250 in workshop funds to support the development of the play, and a public reading.

Roger Q. Mason (they/them) is a writer and performer who uses the lens of history to disrupt the biases that divide rather than unite us. Their playwriting has been seen on Broadway (Circle in the Square Reading Series), Off and Off-Off-Broadway, and regionally. Mason’s World Premiere of Lavender Men was lauded by the Los Angeles Times as “evoking the mingled visions of Suzan-Lori Parks, Jeremy O. Harris and Michael R. Jackson.” They are a recipient of the inaugural Catalyst Fellowship, awarded by the Dramatists Guild Foundation, in celebrations of theater makers whose work impacts social justice and civic change through art. As a filmmaker, Mason has been recognized by the British Film Institute, Lonely Wolf International Film Festival, SCAD Film Festival, AT&T Film Award, and Atlanta International Film Festival. Their films have screened in the US, UK, Poland, Brazil, and Asia. Mason holds degrees from Princeton University, Middlebury College, and Northwestern University. They are a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, and an alum of the Ma-Yi’s Writing Lab, Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writers Group, and Primary Stages Writing Cohort. Mason currently produces a memoir/cooking segment on Instagram called Cooking with Q: A Playwrights Guide to Telling My Trouble. Previously, they co-hosted the podcast Sister Roger’s Gayborhood and hosted This Way Out Radio’s Queerly Yours: Portraits in Courage. Mason has served as lead mentor of The Marsha P. Johnson Institute’s Starship Fellowship, the New Visions Fellowship, and the Shay Foundation Fellowship. They are currently on faculty at CalArts. Instagram: @rogerq.mason

Playwrights’ Center sustains, develops, and advocates for playwrights and their work to realize their full artistic potential. Through the practice of inclusive theater-making, Playwrights’ Center fosters engagement towards an equitable, empathetic, and boundlessly imaginative world. The Center serves playwrights by starting and sustaining careers, developing new work, and connecting playwrights to theaters. Each year at the Center, fellows and Core Writers receive more than $450,000 in direct support, 70+ new plays are workshopped, playwrights connect with 100 producing theaters through partnership programs, and over 2,500 member playwrights from around the world find resources to achieve their artistic vision. Since its founding in 1971, the Playwrights’ Center has become one of the nation’s most generous and well-respected theater organizations, helping launch the careers of numerous nationally recognized artists such as August Wilson, Lee Blessing, Jordan Harrison, Carlyle Brown, Craig Lucas, Jeffrey Hatcher, Melanie Marnich, Kira Obolensky, and Larissa FastHorse. Work developed through Center programs has been seen nationwide on such stages as Yale Rep, Woolly Mammoth, the Guthrie, Goodman, and many others.

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and the planet thrive. Established in 1953, the McKnight Foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest; building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota; and supporting the arts and culture in Minnesota, neuroscience, and global food systems.