Two Twin Cities theaters awarded major playwriting grants

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced this week that it has awarded 14 theater companies in the U.S. grants to fully fund playwrights on staff for three years.

Two of those companies are in the Twin Cities.

Playwright Qui Nguyen will join the staff of Mixed Blood in May 2013, and Kira Obolensky will join Ten Thousand Things immediately.

The grant program is aimed at helping advance the work of American playwrights, while evaluating the impact of having a playwright embedded in the staff of a working theater company.

The fellowship supports and deepens what is already a longstanding working relationship between Ten Thousand Things and Kira Obolensky. Obolensky has written two plays for the company: Raskol (an adaptation of Crime and Punishment) and Vasa Lisa, a production based on Russian folk tales.

As part of the fellowship, Obolensky plans to write three plays for TTT, conduct workshops for prison audiences and assist Hensley in writing a book about the work of the theater company.

Playwright Qui Nguyen is known for incorporating comic-book style narratives and game play into his politically subversive productions, including his recent War is F**king Awesome developed at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis.