Cristina Luzárraga (Jerome Fellow, 2019-20) and Philana Imade Omorotionmwan (Jerome Fellow, 2018-19), are two recent OHIO MFA Playwriting alums representing back-to-back years of the Jerome Fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. The fellowship is often considered career-changing for early-career playwrights; as the PWC press release notes:
Jerome and Many Voices Fellows spend a year in residency in the Twin Cities, working in an individualized and hands-on way with the Playwrights’ Center artistic staff—some of the most experienced and connected theater professionals in the country. In addition to an $18,000 stipend, fellows receive $2,000 in play development funds to workshop new plays with professional directors, dramaturgs, and actors. The Center also builds connections between the playwrights and producers of new work.
Luzárraga (just beginning the Jerome), and Omorotionmwan (just finishing), were in the same graduating class (2018) and often politely competed for awards, fellowships and grants. As far as the Jerome Fellowship is concerned — the two continue to finish in a dead heat, always with very different voices and approaches to their work.
Cristina Luzárraga grew up in New Jersey and still resides there, believe it or not. She’s an alum The Second City Conservatory in Chicago, the town where she once (foolishly?) dabbled in comedy performance of all kinds. Her work has been developed at Towne Street Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, The New Colony, and Tantrum Theater. Her full length plays include Critical Distance, Millennialville, and La Mujer Barbuda (Inaugural ScreenCraft Stage Play Award Winner; 2018 Princess Grace Award finalist). Her short plays have been published in anthologies by Smith and Kraus. She co-wrote and adaptation of Aphra Behn’s The Rover that was produced by Ohio University where she recently earned an MFA in playwriting… Then there’s this, of course, when you need a good laugh…
Philana Imade Omorotionmwan (o-more-o-tune-wha) is currently based in Minneapolis, MN as a 2018-19 Jerome Fellow at the Playwrights’ Center. Her plays include Before Evening Comes, The Defiance of Dandelions, Fireflies, and Strong Face, or Misogynoir. Her work has been developed and/or presented at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Br!nk New Works Festival, La MaMa Experiments Series, and Athena Project Festival. She has been a semifinalist for the Relentless Award, P73 Fellowship, and Many Voices Fellowship, as well as a two-time Heideman finalist, and a finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship, the Theatre503 Award, and the Playwrights Realm’s Scratchpad Series. Her short plays have been produced by Ensemble Studio Theatre, Pillsbury House + Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Source, Stay Awake! Theatre, Little Black Dress Ink, 20% Theatre Company Chicago, and Ohlone College. Her poems have appeared in New Delta Review and African American Review. Philana earned a BA in English at Stanford University, where she began writing plays under the mentorship of Cherríe Moraga and also dabbled in spoken word. Philana completed an MFA in Playwriting in May 2018. She is at work on a television pilot about her experiences as a teacher in public charter schools. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild. philanaplays.weebly.com