Jeremy Cohen brings it home

Joe Kellen

The Ivey Awards were on Monday, and it was a damn good time. It was superhero themed, Randy Reyes and Shanan Custer made poop jokes and the crowd dug it. As fun as it is, the pageantry and hand shaking didn’t resonate with me as much as one particular moment did.

Jeremy Cohen, the artistic director of the Playwrights’ Center, stopped the awards train with his speech. He informed the audience that he had been told his speech was the longest of the night before beginning. Thankfully, it didn’t take an indulgent turn. Instead, Cohen championed the Minneapolis theater scene (specifically the Playwrights’ Center as well as every other company that produced new plays this year) for making a point to create new, exciting work. (Note: Check out this blog from the Theater Communications Group to get a little more context on new plays and the state of American theater.)

After showing an expansive scrolling list of playwrights from the community who’ve been produced this year, Cohen looked at the crowd. Most of his speech had been underscored with applause. Everyone in the room seemed to get it. He closed with a reminder to any producer fearful of supporting a new play:

“If you make great theater, people will fucking come.”

I hadn’t smiled that hard in a long time.