Playwrights’ Center and McKnight Foundation Announce Residency and Commission, Fellowship Awards

Playwrights’ Center and McKnight Foundation Elevate Artists’ Voices and Lived Experiences Across Theater Field

Announcing the 2022-23 McKnight National Residency and Commission and 2022-23 McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting Recipients

To read about the recently announced 2022-2023 Jerome Fellows, Many Voices Fellows, and Many Voices Mentees, click here.

MINNEAPOLIS (April 4, 2022) — The McKnight Foundation and Playwrights’ Center are elevating artists’ voices and lived experiences across the theater field by supporting some of today’s most promising playwrights through the McKnight National Residency and Commission and McKnight Fellowships in Playwriting. The awards will holistically support playwrights as they create work for an evolving theatrical industry.

The 2022-2023 McKnight National Residency and Commission has been awarded to Sharon Bridgforth. The 2022-2023 McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting recipients are TyLie Shider and Katie Ka Vang. "When artists like Sharon Bridgforth, TyLie Shider and Katie Ka Vang are given support from a partnership like the one between Playwrights' Center and the McKnight Foundation, amazing things are guaranteed to happen in the world,” said Playwrights’ Center Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen. “That Katie and TyLie have dedicated so much time to living and working as Minnesota-based artists, and what they have already offered in terms of storytelling in this community, is nothing short of extraordinary. Sharon Bridgforth already has a deep and profound history in the Twin Cities theater community, including time with our brilliant colleagues at Pillsbury House + Theater and here at Playwrights' Center. We are so excited to center these three artists to expand the storytelling conversations here in Minnesota."

Speaking to the unique position of the arts in times of broad uncertainty, McKnight Fellow TyLie Shider stated, “while fear may be a sign of the times, I need us to come together in faith. The magic of theater is in the room.”

For McKnight Fellow Katie Ka Vang, the fellowship is the culmination of a long held dream. “In past years, whenever I saw the announcement for this fellowship, I always said ‘Oh, that's a real playwright.’" Adding, “I hold these fellows with high regard, and now I'm thrilled to be one of them and hold myself with the same regard–which is a lot for me, because my personal inclination is to be more self-deprecating.”

McKnight National Residency and Commission recipient Sharon Bridgforth speaks with deep intention about the momentous opportunities ahead: “I need to return to ‘the room.’ To be in person or in process, in conversation–witnessed and witnessing–with people that I love and trust. I need to twirl and dance with other playwrights and to dive deep and find words that articulate all the feelings that have expanded and have been swimming in my Soul since 2020. I need time–to focus on my own work vs the facilitation of creative process for others. I need to mindfully articulate what I'm saying yes to.”

Each year, the Playwrights’ Center serves as an artistic home for over 45 playwriting fellows and Core Writers annually, in addition to supporting 2,400+ member playwrights across the globe, and partnering with producing theaters to move work from page to stage. The Center also partners with producing theaters to move work from page to stage through its Regulars program. The fellowship programs have anchored the Center’s support of playwrights and theatermakers for nearly 50 years. The McKnight National Residency and Commission funds a play commission to create and develop new work. The McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting awards two Minnesota-based playwrights funding for play development and other professional expenses.

The 2022-2023 McKnight National Residency and Commission recipient:

  • Sharon Bridgforth

The McKnight National Residency and Commission funds the creation and development of new works and comes with a $15,000 commission and up to $12,250 in workshop funds to support the development of the play and a public reading.

A 2022 Winner of Yale's Windham Campbell Prize in Drama, Sharon Bridgforth is a 2020-2023 Playwrights’ Center Core and a New Dramatists alumnae. She has received support from The Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Creative Capital, MAP Fund, and the National Performance Network. Sharon served as a dramaturg for the Urban Bush Women's Choreographic Fellowship program, and was writer, dramaturg and voiceover performer for Ananya Chatterjea Dance Theatre's Dastak: I Wish You Me. Sharon's Lambda Literary award-winning the bull-jean stories (RedBone Press, 1998) will be produced by Pillsbury House + Theatre in October/November 2022. 

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The 2022-2023 McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting Recipients:

  • TyLie Shider

  • Katie Ka Vang

The McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting awards two Minnesota-based playwrights a $25,000 stipend, $2,500 to support play development and other professional expenses and $1,400 in travel funds.

TyLie Shider is a Minneapolis-based writer. Upcoming projects include the fall 2022 New Jersey premiere of Certain Aspects of Conflict in the Negro Family at Premiere Stages, The Gospel Woman (NBT), Whittier (PWC), and his filmmaking debut Sign O' the Times. He holds a BA in Journalism from Delaware State University and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU. A proud member of the Dramatists Guild, he is currently a Professor of Playwriting at Augsburg University, and a staff writer for Minnesota Playlist. 

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Katie Ka Vang is a playwright and theater artist. Her work explores the complexities of culture, identity, dis-ease, survivorship, and the familial. Her plays and works include WTF, Hmong Bollywood, 5:1 Meaning of Freedom; 6:2 Use of Sharpening, Fast FWD Motions, In Quarantine, FINAL ROUND, and Spirit Trust. Her work has been developed and presented at Pangea World Theater, Pillsbury House Theatre, Theater Mu, Leviathan Lab, Bushwick Starr, Brown University, The Royal Court Theatre (London), The Walker Art Center, Out North Art House, and more. She's received support from The Jerome Foundation, Knight Foundation, NPN, MRAC, MSAB, and Coalition of Asian American Leaders. She was selected to be a member of East West Players 2021-2022 Playwright's Group in Los Angeles, CA. She received a 2020-2021 Many Voices Fellowship at the Playwrights' Center. She has an MFA in Playwriting from Brown University.

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Photos of the artists are available at

Images courtesy of the artists. 


The Playwrights’ Center sustains, develops, and advocates for playwrights and their work to realize their full artistic potential. Through the practice of inclusive theater-making, Playwrights’ Center fosters engagement towards an equitable, empathetic, and boundlessly imaginative world. The Center serves playwrights by starting and sustaining careers, developing new work, and connecting playwrights to theaters. Each year at the Center, fellows and Core Writers receive more than $400,000 in direct support, 70+ new plays are workshopped, playwrights connect with 100 producing theaters through partnership programs, and over 2,400 member playwrights from around the world find resources to achieve their artistic vision. Since its founding in 1971, the Playwrights’ Center has become one of the nation’s most generous and well-respected theater organizations, helping launch the careers of numerous nationally recognized artists such as August Wilson, Lee Blessing, Jordan Harrison, Carlyle Brown, Craig Lucas, Jeffrey Hatcher, Melanie Marnich, and Kira Obolensky. Work developed through Center programs has been seen nationwide on such stages as Yale Rep, Woolly Mammoth, the Guthrie, Goodman, and many others. 

Programs and Services

Believing everyone has a story to tell, Playwrights’ Center Membership is open to all and provides over 2,400 playwrights worldwide with tools, resources, and support. Benefits include a database of playwriting opportunities, online and in-person seminars and classes, access to readings with professional actors, dramaturgical services, and more. In addition, the Playwrights’ Center’s New Plays on Campus program serves dozens of colleges and universities nationwide, providing script-matching services, arranging playwright residencies, and offering immersive apprenticeships to student playwrights.

The Core Writer program gives 25-35 of the most exciting playwrights from across the country the time and tools to develop new work for the stage. All Core Writers receive play development workshops at the Center, in collaboration with prominent directors, actors, dramaturgs, and designers. Selected work by Core Writers makes up the Center’s formal season of public readings: the PlayLabs festival and the Ruth Easton New Play Series. Core Writers are also promoted by the Center and provided opportunities through an extensive network of colleges and universities, cultural institutions, and producing theaters.

Fellowships, made possible by the McKnight and Jerome foundations, and the Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation provide more than $400,000 each year for residencies, commissions, and development funds. Beyond the financial stipend, the value of fellowships is more than doubled with the year-long support the Playwrights’ Center adds through workshops with professional collaborators and through the connections the Center makes between playwrights and producers of new work. This holistic and customized combination of financial support, access to talent, and professional connections is career-changing for most playwrights. Fellowship programs: Jerome Fellows, Many Voices Fellows and Mentees, McKnight Fellows in Playwriting, McKnight National Residency and Commission, McKnight Theater Artist Fellows, Venturous Playwright Fellows, Core Apprentices.

Local and national partnerships elevate the role of living playwrights. Through the Regulars partnership program, the Playwrights’ Center partners with 100 theaters around the country to bring their artistic staff to the Center in order to spend time with playwrights and to co-develop new plays with a keen eye towards production. In fact, 60% of these plays have gone on to full production within two years (rather than the average seven-year timeframe for most plays to see production).

Recent Playwrights’ Center co-development projects include “Isaac Asimov Grand Master Funk” by Herbert Siguenza at San Diego Rep; the Afro-Atlantic Festival with Carlyle Brown & Company and Camargo Foundation; “Legacy Land” by Stacey Rose at Kansas City Repertory; “FLEX” by Candrice Jones at Actors’ Theatre of Louisville; “Scarfoot Lives” by Idris Goodwin at Arena Stage; “Little Women” by Kate Hamill at The Jungle Theater; “The Thanksgiving Play” by Larissa Fasthorse at Artist Repertory Theatre; “The Great Leap” by Lauren Yee at Denver Center Theatre and the Guthrie Theater.


The McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minnesota, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and the planet thrive. The McKnight Foundation envisions a world that recognizes the dignity of every human being, a world where we celebrate the creativity of the arts and sciences and come together to protect our one and only Earth.

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