Pillsbury House Theatre receives major award to work with playwright

The Joyce Foundation has awarded Pillsbury House Theatre a grant to work with playwright Tracey Scott Wilson to create a new work that confronts race and cultural issues. The Joyce Awards recognize artists of color who collaborate with nonprofit institutions by awarding them $50,000 based on artistic merit, quality of work and community engagement in the artistic process.

Tracey Scott Wilson will work with the Pillsbury House Theatre to produce Prep, a play about a group of teachers changing their students’ test scores to receive yearly bonuses. Racial and sexual tensions arise as the teachers try to cover their transgressions.

“Recently, the Twin Cities have experienced a series of noteworthy events with racial overtones that have stirred deep emotions and conflict in our communities. Tracey will immerse herself in conversation with Minneapolis residents that have been a part of these experiences,” explains co-artistic director Faye Price. “As with all of Tracey’s work, we’re looking forward to a play that sparks real conversations about race that move beyond political correctness into the subjects we think are off-limits but shouldn’t be.” Production is scheduled for fall of 2015.

Another award supports the Guthrie Theater and Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. The theater will stage a premiere production of Reading Play, a play Nottage started writing after interviewing the people of Reading, Pa., named the poorest city in America in 2011.

“Nottage will host a series of classes for local playwrights and public forums with more than 300 Minneapolis schools, places of worship, diversity groups and nonprofits,” said Joe Dowling, director of the Guthrie Theater. “Participants will explore the themes of poverty in Reading Play juxtaposed with the city’s own struggles with poverty.” The Guthrie will offer $2 tickets for public assistance programs and human services agencies.

Arts organizations from Minneapolis-St. Paul have received more Joyce Awards than any other city. Last year, the University of Minnesota’s Northrop Concerts and Lectures earned a grant for, SHORE, a dance piece by Emily Johnson debuting at the Northrop’s grand re-opening this spring. Public Art St. Paul also received a grant for a Seitu Jones performing art work, Community Meal, planned for September as part of the Central Corridor Public Art Plan.

“There’s no denying the strength of the arts community in the Twin Cities,” said Angelique Power, head of The Joyce Foundation’s Culture Program. “We’re honored to play an important role in keeping this scene vibrant through these diverse and important works taking place at the Guthrie and Pillsbury House Theatre.”

An anonymous national panel of cultural organization and business leaders selected the 2014 Joyce Award winners.  This year’s panelists included leaders from the Museum of Modern Art, Theatre Communications Group, the Southwest Latino Art Council and Ariel Capital Management. Since 2003, the Joyce Awards is the only program supporting artists of color in major Midwest cities. Theater, dance and classical music artists are all represented in this year’s awards, which aim to strengthen cross-cultural understanding by bringing diverse audiences together.

Other 2014 Joyce Award winners include choreographer Camille A. Brown, collaborating with DANCE Cleveland to create Black Girl, a powerful dance and music composition that will expose the emotional and racial complexities of young, black women; and Jessie Montgomery, joining the Sphinx Organization in Detroit to compose, “Banner!” a tribute to the bicentennial anniversary of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Learn more about the Joyce Foundation at www.joycefdn.org

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