MK Tuomanen

PHILADELPHIA, PA – May 22, 2024. Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) (480 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA) proudly announces MK Tuomanen as the 2024 Terrence McNally Award winner for their play Night Science. Generously funded by The Terrence McNally Foundation, the award celebrates the life, works, and countless invaluable contributions of American playwright, librettist, and LGBTQ+ trailblazer Terrence McNally. In celebrating McNally’s life and work, the award identifies Philadelphia’s most promising early-career playwrights and champions the city’s incredible artistry, diversity, and talent. Given once every two years, the McNally Award provides a $10,000 cash prize, dramaturgical support, access to the PTC community, and a public reading of the play.  

Among more than 60 submissions, playwright and theatre artist MK Tuomanen (they/them) stood out with their play Night Science. Tuomanen attended the Lecoq School of Movement Theater (Paris, France) and proudly approaches 17 years of acting and creating theatre in Philadelphia. Named “Best Theatre Artist” by Philadelphia Magazine in 2015, they are a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow and a Haas Emerging Artist Award recipient. Their plays include Marcus/Emma (or Marcus Garvey and Emma Goldman Have Hot Hot Sex), produced by InterAct Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), Peaceable Kingdom (a parable retelling of William Penn’s arrival in Lenapehoking), produced by Orbiter 3 (Philadelphia, PA), and Night Science, first developed with the Wilma Theater (Philadelphia, PA) through the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. Their solo works include Hello! Sadness! (developed through the Kimmel Center and FringeArts/ Philadelphia, PA) and Consider The Cow, a meditation on trans identity through a bovine lens. Tuomanen’s most recent multimedia exhibit, John Jarboe’s Rose: You Are Who You Eat, is currently on display at the Fabric Workshop Museum in Philadelphia, PA, through September 2024, and previously showed at the Guggenheim Museum, FringeArts, LaMama (UTR Fest), and Woolly Mammoth. They are a company member of Applied Mechanics (Philadelphia, PA) and an associated artist with the Bearded Ladies Cabaret (Philadelphia, PA). 

Night Science dives into the feckless hope of scientific discovery, the dangers of trusting others of your own species, and the fact that any beautiful idea can be turned into a weapon. MK Tuomanen’s work bounces from humor to heartbreak to describe an eventful century in humanity’s ridiculous history. 

A panel of select judges included Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright James Ijames; playwright and head of the Theater Program at the Community College of Philadelphia Quinn Eli; Barrymore nominated actor, playwright, and previous McNally Award winner Stephanie Kyung-Sun Walters; director, playwright, and dramaturg Lily Wolff; and PTC Artistic Directors Tyler Dobrowsky and Taibi Magar. Judges selected one grand prize as well as three finalists: Lumin (Emma Gibson), The Skinny Killer Inside (Genne Murphy), and ass2mouth (Haygen-Brice Walker)

“We are immensely grateful to the McNally Foundation for their continued support of PTC and commitment to Philadelphia playwrights,” said Tyler Dobrowsky and Taibi Magar, PTC Co-Artistic Directors. “We are thrilled for MK and their play, Night Science, and would like to extend profound thanks to all of the Philadelphia writers who submitted plays for the award.”

The Award was last gifted in 2022 to playwright Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters for Acetone Wishes and Plexiglass Dreams. The play was subsequently workshopped at the UC Santa Barbara Launch Pad BIPOC Reading Series and featured at the Great Plains Theatre Conference in 2022. Previous McNally Award winners include notable playwrights James Ijames, Bill Cain, A. Zell Williams, and Martín Zimmerman. In 2021, the Terrence McNally Award was given to Donja R. Love for his play What Will Happen to All That Beauty?  Philadelphia Theatre Company produced a reading of the play in 2022.  

“The Terrence McNally Foundation is proud to continue our longstanding partnership with Philadelphia Theatre Company,” said Santino DeAngelo, Executive Director of the Terrence McNally Foundation. “This year’s extraordinary panel of judges, previous recipients, and our 2024 winner all embody the spirit of the award and continue a legacy of Philadelphian excellence.” 

Terrence McNally was an American playwright, librettist, and LGBTQ+ trailblazer, described by The New York Times as “the bard of the American Theater.” One of the few playwrights of his generation to successfully pass from the avant-garde to mainstream acclaim, Terrence redefined American playwriting for six decades. He was the recipient of five Tony Awards (two for his plays Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class, two for the books to his musicals Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime, and the 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement). He received the 2011 Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award and was Vice President of the Guild from 1981 to 2001. McNally also won the Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award (2015), He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame (1996) and into the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2018). Additional accolades include an Emmy Award (Andre’s Mother), two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, four Drama Desk Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, two Obie Awards, and three Hull-Warriner Awards. He was an alumnus of Columbia University and received numerous honorary degrees, including from NYU and Juilliard, where he helped create the playwriting program in 1993. His legacy lives on in his plays, musicals, and operas that continue to be performed worldwide, as well as in his papers, which are kept and open to the public inside the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

PTC mounted the world premieres of Master Class, Golden Age, Some Men, Unusual Acts of Devotion, and the Philadelphia regional premieres of Love!Valour!Compassion!, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Mothers and Sons, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.

With the support of Terrence McNally’s husband, Tony, and Olivier Award-winning producer Tom Kirdahy, PTC hopes to honor McNally’s legacy and shine a light on the next generation of transformative writers in theatre, helping them to leave a mark on the playwriting world just as McNally did. 

Find more information about the award, a detailed lineup of PTC productions this season, rental, partnership, and sponsorship opportunities, and a schedule of community programming on the Philadelphia Theatre Company page. Like and follow PTC on social media @philatheatreco, on Facebook, X, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn


Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) is a vital civic institution dedicated to the creation of extraordinary theatrical experiences that reflect the essential issues and ideas of our time and that foster connection, understanding, and transformation. PTC engages and strengthens our community through exceptional productions of new and contemporary plays and musicals, inspiring education programs, and mutually beneficial civic partnerships. PTC develops exciting new work that resonates locally and nationally and upholds a deep commitment to be a fully inclusive, welcoming home for Philadelphia’s artists, audiences, and people.