Playwrights' Center Celebrates 50th Year Supporting Writers

A maroon to pink to red rectangle with many different sized "50's" written on it.

Expands Season with In-Person and Online Offerings


Playwrights’ Center, one of the nation’s leading advocates for playwrights, theater artists, and new play development, is celebrating its 50th year with over a dozen free, new play readings open to the public. Building on the lessons learned over the previous season during the pandemic, the Center will return to live, in-person readings but also present recordings of the readings online. The hybrid approach will create greater access to the arts for the public and ensure these new, incredible works will reach the greatest number of people, anywhere in the world. 

The Center’s 50th season will feature new plays from Playwrights’ Center Fellows, Core and Affiliated writers Darren Canady, Kristoffer Diaz, Mathilde Dratwa, Gina Femia, Gracie Gardner, Rachel Jendrzejewski, JuCoby Johnson, Carson Kreitzer, Stacey Rose, TyLie Shider, and Ray Yamanouchi. It will also include excerpts from new plays by 2021–22 Fellows and Mentees Lucas Baisch, Zola Dee, Marvin González De León, Gethsemane Herron, JuCoby Johnson, Cristina Luzárraga, Lester Mayers, Nubia Monks, Atlese Robinson, James Anthony Tyler, P.C. Verrone, and James A. Williams. Two readings will be presented in partnership with Minneapolis-based Trademark Theater and New York-based WaxFactory.

 “I am so excited to share the work of these incredible writers,” commented Playwrights’ Center’s producing artistic director Jeremy B. Cohen. “As I reflect on the Center’s past 50 years and its support for artists like Daniel Alexander Jones, Lee Blessing, Carlyle Brown, Sheila Callaghan, Laurie Carlos, Karl Gajdusek, Marcus Gardley, Idris Goodwin, Sarah Gubbins, Jordan Harrison, Jeffrey Hatcher, Craig Lucas, Martyna Majok, Melanie Marnich, Qui Nguyen, Kira Obolensky, and August Wilson, I think about the common threads.” 

“Through their work—with their incredible talent—each of those playwrights shared an honest view of the world in all of its beauty, filled with all of its challenges.” He continued, “The artists this season and the stories they are telling, continue this tradition. They pick up the mantle, fostering a more empathetic and imaginative world. We are truly honored to be able to support this important work.“ 

Playwrights’ Center’s associate artistic director Hayley Finn said, “Our goal is always to be responsive to the needs of the playwrights and our artistic community. We’ve heard from playwrights a strong desire to be part of in-person collaborations again. At the same time, our national artistic community has benefited this past year by having access to new work in development. With that in mind, we’re launching our first hybrid season which allows playwrights to return to the rehearsal room and share work with live audiences while also enabling our community across the country to have access to work in development online.” 

She continued, “In addition to the PlayLabs festival and Ruth Easton New Play series we are continuing In The Lab which supports playwrights experimenting with form, moving us towards a more expansive vision for the theater. And we are excited to re-launch our Artists In Conversation series inspiring connections among artists and engendering dialogue about the creative process.” 

The 2021–22 season will celebrate the Playwrights’ Center’s 50th year, with 42 years being at 2301 East Franklin Avenue in the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis. The Center is currently developing a new home at 710 Raymond Avenue in Saint Paul. 

Cohen stated, “It’s an exciting time to be at Playwrights’ Center as we create a new home for playwrights and envision the future of theater and our community.”  

Playwrights’ Center managing director Robert Chelimsky said, “Through the resiliency of our artists, staff, and supporters, we have continued to not only weather this pandemic but thrive and grow. The support from our community has enabled us to uplift more artists, in more ways, more deeply.” 

“We will miss our neighbors in Minneapolis and the Seward neighborhood that has been our home for decades,” shared Chelimsky. “But the needs of the organization and those we serve have only grown over time. The new space will allow us to serve more artists and grant us the space to grow well into the future.”

Playwrights’ Center is offering every reading and presentation for free. Ticketed reservations are required to attend. At this time, audiences attending in-person events will be required to show proof of vaccination upon entering the building. Non-vaccinated audiences will be able to view readings online one week after the live performances. Tickets are available now.

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