MINNEAPOLIS (April 26, 2017) — The Playwrights’ Center today announced the 2017-18 Jerome Fellows, Many Voices Fellows and Many Voices Mentee.
The Many Voices program, which was created in 1994 and significantly expanded in 2013, will see another increase in funding from the Jerome Foundation for the incoming fellows, from $12,500 to $18,000. The Jerome Fellowship, which saw an increase last year to $18,000, is the Jerome Foundation’s longest-awarded program.
“These are seven brilliant playwrights and storytellers,” said Jeremy B. Cohen, producing artistic director of the Playwrights’ Center. “I feel so moved to share the American theater field with them, particularly in this moment of national turbulence. These are the artists who will lead our country forward, and whose voices you will continue to hear echo across stages around the country. And we’ll all surely be better for it.”
The 2017-18 Jerome Fellows are Mia Chung, Jessica Huang, Tim J. Lord and Tori Skyler Sampson.
Jerome Fellows receive an $18,000 award and $1,725 in play development funds. They spend a year-long residency in Minnesota. Past recipients of the Jerome Fellowship include Lee Blessing, Lisa D’Amour, Kristoffer Diaz, Dan Dietz, Sarah Gubbins, Naomi Iizuka, Melanie Marnich, Anna Moench, Joe Waechter, Rhiana Yazzie, Martín Zimmerman and August Wilson. The Playwrights’ Center’s 2017-18 Jerome Fellows are:
Mia Chung, a Brown University M.F.A. graduate whose play “You For Me For You” has had productions with Mu Performing Arts/Guthrie Theater, Royal Court Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Company One, Portland Playhouse, Crowded Fire Theatre and InterAct Theatre Company.
Chung is the author of “You For Me For You,” “Catch as Catch Can,” and “This Exquisite Corpse.” “You For Me For You” had a UK premiere at The Royal Court Theatre, a world premiere at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, and multiple productions around the country; it is published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. In addition to the 2016 Stavis Playwright Award, Mia has received much support: BAPF, Berkeley Rep, Blue Mountain Center, The Civilians, Hedgebrook, Huntington Theatre, Icicle Creek, Inkwell, LAByrinth, Ma-Yi Writers Lab, NEA, NYTW, Playwrights Realm, RISCA, South Coast Rep, Southern Rep, Stella Adler Studio, and TCG. She is a New Dramatist.
Jessica Huang, a Twin Cities-based playwright, 2016-17 Jerome Fellow, and 2011-12 Many Voices Fellow whose play “The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin” recently premiered with History Theatre.
Huang is a Twin Cities-based playwright whose work includes “The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin” (“striking” –Star Tribune; “Kaleidoscopic and timely” –Broadway World; “Superb storytelling” –City Pages) and the Susan Smith Blackburn nominated “Purple Cloud” (“a thoroughly entertaining and moving work” –City Pages). Jessica’s work has been developed and/or produced by Mu Performing Arts (Minneapolis), History Theatre (Saint Paul), Mixed Blood Theatre (Minneapolis), Timeline Theatre Company (Chicago), A-Squared Theatre Workshop (Chicago), 2nd Generation (NYC), the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts (D.C.), the Source Festival (D.C.), and Yellow Earth’s Typhoon Festival (London). She co-founded and co-directs Other Tiger Productions, which pursues multidisciplinary collaborations, intentional inclusivity and a re-examination of traditional theater practices. Jessica has received a MSAB Cultural Community Partnership grant, a MRAC/McKnight Next Step grant, and the Playwrights’ Center’s Jerome and Many Voices Fellowships. Jessica-Huang.com
Tim J. Lord, a New York-based playwright and graduate of UC San Diego’s M.F.A. playwriting program and whose plays include “We declare you a terrorist…” and “11 Hills of San Francisco.”
Lord is a native of St. Louis who has spent the last ten years in New York—five of them with his wife, the director Nicole A. Watson. His plays include “We declare you a terrorist…,” “11 Hills of San Francisco,” “Peloponnesus,” “Down in the face of a God,” and “Fault & Fold.” These and others have been seen at the Public Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Working Theater, the New Harmony Project, the Summer Play Festival, NNPN/Kennedy Center University Playwrights Workshop, Circle Rep, the Cutout Theatre, the Vagrancy, and most recently at the Barn Arts Collective. He has been a volunteer at the 52nd Street Project since 2012 and on staff there since 2014. Tim studied with Paula Vogel while living in Providence, RI, and is a graduate of UC San Diego’s M.F.A. playwriting program. timjlord.wordpress.com
Tori Skyler Sampson, a Boston native who graduates this spring from the Yale School of Drama, is under commission from Berkeley Repertory Theater, and is the Kennedy Center’s 2017 Paula Vogel Playwright.
Sampson is a third year playwriting candidate at Yale School of Drama, where her credits include “THIS LAND WAS MADE” and “Some Bodies Travel.” Her plays have been developed at Great Plains National Theater Conference and Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Ground Floor residency program. She holds an Honorable Mention from the 2016 Relentless Award, is the Kennedy Center’s 2017 Paula Vogel Playwright and second-place Lorraine Hansberry recipient. She is a 2017 finalist for the Alliance Theater’s Kendeda Prize. Tori’s other plays include: “Cadillac Crew,” “If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Muhfucka,” “Black Girl Nerd,” “Cottoned Like Candy.” Her short play “She’s our President” will be produced by Baltimore Center Stage as part of the “My America: She” commission. Tori is currently working on a commission from Berkeley Repertory Theatre. A native of Boston, Massachusetts, she holds a B.S. in sociology from Ball State University in Muncie, IN.
The 2017-18 Many Voices Fellows are Diane Exavier and Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay.
The Many Voices Fellowship for early-career writers of color comes with a $18,000 award and $1,725 in play development funds. The fellows receive dedicated support from Many Voices Coordinator Christina Ham and introductions to theater leaders in the Twin Cities and Chicago. One fellow each year must be Minnesota-based, and both writers spend a year-long residency in Minnesota. Previous recipients include Sharif Abu-Hamdeh, Benjamin Benne, Marisa Carr, Cristina Castro, Janaki Ranpura, Harrison David Rivers, James Anthony Tyler and Josh Wilder. The Playwrights’ Center’s 2017-18 Many Voices Fellows are:
Diane Exavier, a playwright, poet and performance artist from Brooklyn, New York, who is graduating this spring from the Brown University M.F.A. program, where her play “Good Blood” will be featured in partnership with the Flea Theater in April.
Exavier is a playwright and educator hailing from Brooklyn. She creates performances, public programs, and games that invite audiences to participate in a theater that rejects passive reception. Her work has been presented at California State University: Northridge, West Chicago City Museum, and in New York: Bowery Poetry Club, Dixon Place, Independent Curators International, and more. Her writing appears in The Atlas Review, Cunjuh Magazine, and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Diane is a three-time recipient of the Roland Wood Fellowship for Theater Studies from Amherst College. M.F.A.: Writing for Performance, Brown University.
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, a Minnesota-based writer whose work is focused on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices, and whose award-winning play “Kung Fu Zombies Vs. Cannibals” premiered with Mu Performing Arts in 2013.
Vongsay is a Lao American poet and playwright. Her theater work has been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Mu Performing Arts, Consortium of Asian American Theater Artists, and Theater Unbound. She is a Playwrights’ Center Many Voices fellow, a Mu Performing Arts New Performance fellow, a Loft Literary Center Spoken Word Immersion fellow, a VERVE Grant for Spoken Word Poets recipient, and an Aspen Ideas Bush Foundation scholar. www.SaymoukdaTheRefugenius.com
The 2017-18 Many Voices mentee is Julia Gay. The Many Voices Mentorship awards a Minnesota-based beginning playwright of color with individually-curated writing and play development services and a $2,000 stipend. The Playwrights’ Center’s 2017-18 Many Voices Mentee is Julia Gay, a writer, performer and dancer who was part of the Transatlantic Love Affair ensemble who devised “Promise Land” (Guthrie Theater, January 2017) and whose one-woman show “motherlanded” premiered in 2016 in Pangea World Theater’s Emerging Artist Series.
Julia Gay is a Minneapolis based writer and performer. She received her B.A. from Macalester College, studying American Studies, Urban Studies, and Theatre. Julia is a dancer with professional dance company Ananya Dance Theatre, and was one of five artists awarded the 2016-2017 Creative Changemakers Apprenticeship by The DIAL Group. She was a collaborator and ensemble member with physical theatre ensemble Transatlantic Love Affair on “Promise Land,” a devised work that premiered at the Guthrie Theater in January 2017. In May 2016, as part of Pangea World Theater’s Emerging Artist Series, Julia premiered her one-woman show “motherlanded,” exploring her personal narrative as a Chinese adoptee. juliagay.com
Fellowships at the Playwrights’ Center, made possible by the McKnight and Jerome foundations, provide more than $325,000 each year to support 13 to 14 fellows and mentees. In addition, the Center serves as an artistic home for 25 to 30 Core Writers on three-year terms. Fellows and Core Writers are selected by independent panels. The 2017-18 McKnight Fellows in Playwriting, McKnight National Residency and Commission recipient, McKnight Theater Artist Fellows and new Core Writers will be announced at a later date.
The Playwrights’ Center also supports close to 2,000 member playwrights around the world and runs a robust series of partnership programs building relationships between playwrights and producing theaters.