Playwrights’ Center announces a significant expansion of its Jerome and Many Voices Fellowship programs. The changes to these fellowships, both of which support early career playwrights, further the Center’s mission of sustaining and developing playwrights and their work, and reinforce the Center’s advocacy regarding the importance of building sustainable livelihoods for all theater artists.
The first cohort of two-year Jerome and Many Voices fellows (2023–25) will be Jerome Fellows Paul William Kruse, Nubia Monks, and MK Tuomanen and Many Voices Fellows Jarek Pastor, Josiah Thomas Turner, and Liqing Xu. Their fellowship terms are from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025. The 2023–24 Many Voices Mentee, whose term is from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024, is Michelle de Joya.
For Jerome Fellow Nubia Monks, who moved to Minnesota for her 2021–22 Jerome Fellowship, Playwrights’ Center support affirmed her place as a playwright. “I am excited about this fellowship because I know its power. I moved to the Twin Cities with little-to-no belief in myself as a writer. I couldn’t believe Playwrights’ Center had actually taken a chance on me. Well, let’s just say that by the end of my fellowship year, there was no doubt in my mind that not only am I a writer . . . I’m a damn good one. This fellowship changed my life, and I can’t wait to see how much farther I’ll go over the course of the next two years.”
Many Voices Mentee Michelle de Joya has already experienced a similar affirmation of her decision to expand her creative practice into playwriting, saying “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.”
“Playwrights’ Center has long been committed to fostering sustainable livelihoods for playwrights,” points out Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen. “As the theater field continues to reckon with the loss of opportunities for early career playwrights and the need to lift up underrepresented and under-supported voices, these dramatic changes represent the Center’s renewed commitment to a robust theatrical landscape in which playwrights and theater artists guide us toward a more empathetic and imaginative future.”
Both fellowships will now offer two-year terms (up from one year), $25,000 per year in fellowship compensation (an increase of 25%), and will now be eligible for health insurance and other benefits. Jerome and Many Voices fellows will continue to receive the highly personalized artistic and career support that are hallmarks of all Playwrights’ Center fellowships, including new play development opportunities and connections with producing theaters across the country. This holistic and customized combination of financial support, play development support, and professional connection is career-changing for most playwrights.
The changes to these fellowship programs made it possible for Jerome Fellow MK Tuomanen to even consider applying. “I would not have been able to participate in the fellowship without health insurance. Period. To move and have my healthcare put at risk would have been unacceptable. It is an incredible solidarity statement in support of playwrights; I am so grateful the Center assures their fellows the dignity of healthcare, a right we should all have.”
Many Voices Fellow Jarek Pastor was likewise moved to apply by the ways in which these programs evolved, noting that “The fellowship lasting for two years gives a greater sense of ease in finding meaningful depth in my acquaintance with the Playwrights’ Center and Twin Cities communities. These changes very directly affected my decision to apply.”
Many Voices Fellow Josiah Thomas Turner recognizes the value of fellowship resources, sharing that, “When I first decided I wanted to be a playwright, the 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.”
Returning Many Voices Fellow Liqing Xu looks forward to continuing to enjoy the time and space that this opportunity provides. “I will be able to experiment and be brave enough to both push myself and also fail, while also being institutionally supported, which is a rare thing in our field. As a returning fellow, I am excited to continue to build the relationships that I have cultivated within the last year.”
Jerome Fellow Paul William Kruse is also looking for ways that this opportunity will allow him to deepen relationships: “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.”
Director of Fellowships Lynde Rosario is excited for this particular group of writers to be Playwrights’ Center’s first multi-year, residency-based fellows, as some continue their relationships with the Center and the Twin Cities and some begin those relationships. She shares, “I couldn't be more grateful that these specific playwrights are joining us on this journey. Both Nubia and Liqing have been on single-year fellowships previously and will now get to feel the difference a second year will bring to their experience. Paul may be a first-time fellow but he is also a long-time valued member of the Twin Cities community, as is Michelle. MK, Jarek, and Josiah will be coming from around the country to reside in Minnesota for the next two years, and their artistic practices radically vary. Whether they are moving to Minnesota for the first time or they are already members of our local community, these playwrights will be part of an important moment in Playwrights' Center history.”
The Jerome and Many Voices fellowship programs are generously supported by the Jerome Foundation. The additional costs of the programs’ expansion are being supported, for the first year, by a Creative Support for Organizations grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
Jerome Fellowships support early career playwrights who demonstrate extraordinary potential, artistic vision, and a commitment to a professional development residency in Minnesota. Playwrights’ Center’s 2023–25 Jerome Fellows are:
- Paul William Kruse
- Nubia Monks
- MK Tuomanen
Previous recipients of the Jerome Fellowship include Lucas Baisch, Lee Blessing, Mia Chung, Lisa D’Amour, Kristoffer Diaz, Dan Dietz, Marvin González De León, Emily Feldman, Sarah Gubbins, Gethsemane Herron, Naomi Iizuka, Carson Kreitzer, Melanie Marnich, Anna Moench, Nubia Monks, Tori Sampson, Rhiana Yazzie, Martín Zimmerman, and August Wilson.
MANY VOICES FELLOWS
Many Voices Fellowships support early career Black playwrights, playwrights of color, and/or Indigenous playwrights who demonstrate extraordinary potential, artistic vision, and a commitment to a professional development residency in Minnesota. Playwrights’ Center’s 2023–25 Many Voices Fellows are:
- Jarek Pastor
- Josiah Thomas Turner
- Liqing Xu
Previous recipients of the Many Voices Fellowship include Sharif Abu-Hamdeh, Benjamin Benne, Marisa Carr, Zola Dee, Lester Eugene Mayers, Janaki Ranpura, Harrison David Rivers, Stacey Rose, James Anthony Tyler, P.C. Verrone, Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Josh Wilder, and Kit Yan.
MANY VOICES MENTEES
The Many Voices Mentorship supports Black artists, artists of color, and/or Indigenous artists who live in Minnesota, are new to playwriting but demonstrate artistic potential and an interest in learning more about the craft, and who will be able to take advantage of the resources the Playwrights' Center provides. Playwrights’ Center’s 2023–24 Many Voices Mentee is:
- Michelle de Joya
Previous recipients of the Many Voices Mentorship include Ansa Akyea, ShaVunda Brown, Oya Mae Duchess-Davis, Antonio Duke, Max Delgado, Julia Gay, brianne a. hill, Jamil Jude, Junauda Petrus, Atlese Robinson, and James A. Williams.
Michelle de Joya (they/she) is a Saint Paul based performer, playwright, and teaching artist. A few moments of note so far from their playwriting journey: they received a publication in Playground Experiment’s 2021 Faces of America Monologue Anthology, they workshopped a new play with Kuma Kahua Theater and Conch Shell Productions’ for the 2021 RESET Series for New Plays by BIPOC Artists, they were a member of the 2023 Exposed Brick “Through Our Eyes” Emerging Writer’s Cohort, a semi-finalist for Theater Mu's Mu Tang Clan Writing Incubator, and a semi-finalist for the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale for Playwriting.
Paul William Kruse tells Queer love stories. As a playwright and media artist from Western Wisconsin, his work flows from his Catholic roots and ever-evolving experience of family. He is a cohort member of Audible’s third Emerging Playwrights Fund, and his audio play Once Removed was an official selection at the 2022 Tribeca Festival. Paul completed his MFA at UT Austin in 2020, where he was a fellow with the Michener Center for Writers. From 2012–2022, Paul was resident playwright with Pittsburgh’s Hatch Arts Collective, which he co-founded with Adil Mansoor and Nicole Shero.
Nubia Monks is an actor, playwright, and educator. She has performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, The Women’s Theatre Festival, The Guthrie Theater, and The Folger Theater. As a writer, Nubia is interested in telling stories that cater to and center the Black experience. Her works include Hands of Color (Synchronicity Theatre, 2019), The War Unseen (Montana Repertory Theatre, 2020), and The Lost Women, which has been developed and workshopped at the Playwrights’ Center (‘21-’22 Jerome Fellowship) and The Playwright’s Realm (‘21-’22 Scratchpad Series). She is currently a member of the Realm’s Writer’s Group at The Playwright’s Realm, and is overflowing with excitement to be returning to the Playwrights’ Center as a Jerome Fellow for the second time.
Jarek Pastor is a theatermaker with a focus on play composition, dramaturgy, and directing. Their work moves with a tonal dynamism to enact absurdist portraits of social systems from a mixed race/bilingual/transnational perspective. The result is a theater of being more than the expected doing—of presence and acquaintance more than deed and explanation. This practice is driven by an insistence on finding more communal ways of living beyond the closed horizon of imperialism in all its forms. They hold an MFA from the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop and a BA in Playwriting from Columbia College Chicago.
Josiah Thomas Turner is a queer, Black artist, musician and theater-maker born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned his MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin. Josiah’s work has been developed with and seen at Fade To Black Theatre Fest, Wild Winds Texas, the constructivists, Breaking & Entering, The Fled, and The Kennedy Center. Turner was a finalist for Magic in Rough Spaces at Rorschach Theatre, winner of the Kennedy Center’s Planet Earth Prize, Ken Ludwig Playwriting Scholarship, and National Undergraduate Theatre award as well as being a Semi-Finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, The O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Playwright’s Conference, and the Playwright’s Realm’s Scratchpad Series.
MK Tuomanen (they/them) is a recipient of Haas Emerging Artist Award, named “Best Theater Artist” by Philadelphia Magazine in 2014. A graduate of the Lecoq School of Movement Theatre in Paris, they co-founded Philadelphia’s first producing playwright’s collective, Orbiter 3, as well as the immersive theater ensemble Applied Mechanics. Their play Peaceable Kingdom won the 2017 Virginia Brown-Martin Philadelphia Award and was hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “deeply moving and utterly melancholy… with a sharp satirical edge.” Their current project, Night Science, is supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation through the Wilma Theatre.
Liqing Xu is a playwright and screenwriter. Their work has been developed/presented by Theater Mu, Second Stage, the María Irene Fornés Institute Writers Workshop, The Orchard Project, the Sewanee Writers' Conference (as a Walter E. Dakin Fellow), and Breaking the Binary Festival, among others. They are a proud inaugural member of the Mu Tang Clan. Currently, she is a Playwrights' Center 2022-2023 Many Voices Fellow. BFA: NYU, Film and Television. MFA: Hunter College.