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2010-11 McKnight Fellows Announced


Six playwrights and theater artists honored with grants, artistic support

The Playwrights' Center today named the recipients of the 2010-11 McKnight National Residency and Commission (Taylor Mac), McKnight Advancement Grants (Mat Smart and Deborah Stein), and McKnight Theater Artist Fellowships (Annie Enneking, Masanari Kawahara, and Robert Rosen). The three programs provide nearly $150,000 in grants and artistic support funds and are underwritten by the Minneapolis-based McKnight Foundation.

The McKnight National Residency and Commission is awarded to a nonlocal playwright drawn from a pool of nationally acclaimed applicants. The playwright receives a $12,500 commission plus additional funds for the development of the play, and commits to a residency at the Center while the play is in development. Past recipients include Craig Lucas, Mac Wellman, Kathleen Tolan, Ruth Margraff, Daniel Alexander Jones, Kia Corthron, and Dan O'Brien.

This year's recipient is Taylor Mac, described by American Theatre magazine as "one of this country's most exciting, heroic and disarmingly funny playwrights." In addition to receiving numerous awards and fellowships, Mac recently received a 2010 Obie Award for his cross-genre epic The Lily's Revenge.

McKnight Advancement Grants of $25,000 each, plus $2,000 designated for artistic expenses, are awarded annually to two Minnesota-based playwrights whose work demonstrates exceptional artistic merit and potential. The grants are designed to bolster mid-career playwrights, a group that often falls between the cracks for other funding opportunities. Past McKnight Advancement Grants have supported the careers of Lisa D'Amour, Barbara Field, Jeffrey Hatcher, Dominic Orlando, Carlyle Brown, Melanie Marnich, David Adjmi, and Kira Obolensky.

The 2010-11 McKnight Advancement Grant recipients are Mat Smart, whose work has been produced at the Magic Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, City Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Public Theatre of Maine, Warehouse Theatre and Seattle Public Theater, and whose Samuel J. and K. will premiere this summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival; and Deborah Stein, whose work has been produced across the country as well as internationally in Poland, Ireland, Edinburgh, and Prague, and who is a current Bush Artist Fellow.

"These programs, along with our Jerome fellowships for emerging writers, allow us to support playwrights at all stages of their careers," said Playwrights' Center Interim Director Craig Harris. "This long-term support structure is one of the reasons that many playwrights call the Center their artistic home."

The McKnight Theater Artist Fellowships recognize outstanding work by professional theater artists other than playwrights whose primary residence is in Minnesota. A diverse panel of local and national theater artists select three recipients for grants of $25,000, plus $1,000 in artistic support, on the basis of professional achievement and sustained level of excellence. Recent recipients include James Craven, Joel Sass, Marcus Dilliard, Sonja Parks, Kate Eifrig, Steven Epp, Paul Herwig, and Greta Oglesby.

The 2010-11 McKnight Theater Artist Fellows are Annie Enneking, whose expansive Twin Cities career has encompassed acting, dancing, singing/songwriting, teaching, and stage combat choreography; Masanari Kawahara, a theater maker, performer and educator who incorporates puppetry, mask and clowning into his work; and Robert Rosen, who helped found Theatre de la Jeune Lune and for 20 years served as its co-Artistic Director, working as an actor, writer, director and/or lighting designer on more than 75 productions.

"We often say that new plays are necessary for a thriving theater community, but obviously, that works both ways," said Harris. "Administering the McKnight Theater Artist Fellowships allows us to acknowledge the symbiosis between writers and other creative artists and forge connections between them."

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Its prodigious support for the arts in Minnesota includes individual fellowships for authors, ceramic artists, choreographers, composers, dancers, filmmakers, musicians, photographers, playwrights, screenwriters, theater artists, and visual artists, as well as general operating support for arts organizations. It represents one of the Playwrights' Center's longest and closest funding partnerships.

The Fellows



Taylor Mac is a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, and sometime director and producer. Recent plays include The Lily's Revenge (Obie Award), The Young Ladies Of (Jeff Award and GLAAD Media Award Nominations), The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac (Herald Angel Award) and Red Tide Blooming (Ethyl Eichelberger Award). He's performed his worked in the Sydney Opera House, the San Francisco MOMA and Opera House, New York's Public Theater, Stockholm's Södra Teatern, the Spoleto Festival, the Bumbershoot Festival, the Time-Based Art Festival, Dublin's Project Arts Center, London's Soho Theatre, and literally hundreds of other theaters, museums, music halls, cabarets, and festivals around the globe. 

"I'm thrilled to have my first experience working at the Playwrights' Center and in Minneapolis.  So many playwrights whose work I deeply admire consider it home (making it the perfect place to work on a play about community)."



Mat Smart is a two-time recipient of the Jerome Fellowship from the Playwrights' Center. This summer, Williamstown Theatre Festival will premiere his newest play, Samuel J. and K. Other plays include The Hopper Collection (Magic Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company), The 13th of Paris (City Theatre, Horizon Theatre, the Public Theatre of Maine, the Warehouse Theatre and Seattle Public Theater) and The Bebop Heard in Okinawa (O'Neill Playwrights' Conference). He is a co-founder of Slant Theatre Project in New York City and serves on the Board of Directors for The New Harmony Project. Undergraduate: University of Evansville. M.F.A.: UCSD.

"Too often, I get an idea for a play and have to sit on it for years because I'm too busy making ends meet. The MAG will allow me the time to start writing right away. And rather than explore all these backlogged ideas, I'm going to see what new ideas and plays the year brings."


Deborah Stein has been produced and developed nationally at Actors' Theatre of Louisville, the Guthrie, Seattle Rep, Stages Rep, Women's Project, Wilma, and Theatre Artaud; in New York at the Public, DTW, and Ars Nova; and internationally in Poland, Ireland, Edinburgh (Traverse) and Prague. A frequent collaborator of the Pig Iron Theatre Company, she was twice nominated for the Barrymore Award for Best New Play. Publications include Play: A Journal of Plays, Playscripts, and The Best American Poetry. Deborah received her M.F.A. from Brown University and two Jerome Fellowships at the Playwrights' Center, where she is Co-Artistic Director of the Workhaus Collective. She is a current Bush Artist Fellow and a member of New Dramatists.

"I will continue to develop Chimera, a multi-disciplinary solo performance for my collaborator Suli Holum. I will also revise my play Natasha and the Coat, and start work on a musical. … I moved to Minneapolis in 2006 for a Jerome [Fellowship] and expected to stay just one year … The MAG will take me into my fifth year of Minnesota residency, which is officially twice as long as I have lived anywhere else in my adult life. As a born and bred New Yorker (fourth generation), my parents thought I was insane to move to the Midwest. But grants like the MAG make it possible for Minnesota artists to focus on our art full-time, which is why people like me move here and stay here. It's unique in the country."



Annie Enneking has been a performing artist for twenty-eight years, working as an actor and dancer on numerous stages in the Twin Cities. As a singer/songwriter, she is currently recording her third album. Annie is a teaching artist with the Children's Theatre, the St. Paul Conservatory, and an Associate Fight Instructor with Dueling Arts International. She was a finalist for the 2009 Bush Fellowship, and a recipient of A Very Small Arts Fund, an Open Eye "Open Studio" Grant, and the 2010 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in support of The Joans, an original music performance.

"The McKnight Fellowship really does change everything. I no longer need ineffectually pine for engagement in my highest desire. I can actually deepen my life in the theatre, and alter the course of my career."


Masanari Kawahara is a theater maker, performer, and educator who incorporates puppetry, mask, and clowning into his work. He was a company member of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre from 1998-2009 where he collaborated on numerous mainstage productions, most recently as creator of A Path Home: A Story of Thich Nhat Hanh (2009). As an actor, Masanari has worked with Pangea World Theater, Illusion Theater, Theater Mu and Theatre de la Jeune Lune. As an educator, he has taught puppetry, mask making, and pageant production.

"The Playwrights' Center's McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship will allow me to create new original theatre work and expand my skills to include stop-motion animation."


Robert Rosen, a native of Minneapolis, received his training at the École Jacques Lecoq in Paris and at the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California. In 1979 he assisted in founding Theatre de la Jeune Lune, where he served as co-Artistic Director from 1985 through 2005 and is credited as an actor, writer, director or lighting designer in more than 75 productions. In 2008 he established STUDIO 206 in the Ivy Building for the Arts with Shawn McConneloug where he is dedicated to the creation of new work and the ongoing training of performing artists.

"I am very honored and excited to receive the Playwrights' Center's McKnight Theatre Artist Fellowship, which will allow me the time and resources to focus on the development of a new project as well as the means to begin implementing several ideas in germination at Studio 206."

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