When I came to Minnesota in 2003 as a Jerome Fellow, Polly Carl was one of the first people I met. In fact, I remember, on my first weekend in town, we saw the world premiere of Craig Lucas's Small Tragedy at the Playwrights Center together. A great play that would eventually win a Obie award in New York -- though as the last production of Hidden Theater in the Twin Cities, I think Polly and I were two of only four people in the audience.
At the time, Polly had been in the job of Executive Director of the Playwrights Center for around a year or so -- though she had been with the Center since 1998. Since then, she's led the place to impressive growth by any standard. Membership has grown from 200 to 930 individual playwrights and the center's budget has exploded from $600,000 to 1.4 million. When I first used to visit the Center in 2003, it was a nice, sparse office with six employees. Now, going down into the basement offices is like entering a train station. There's always something happening, with 15 staff members sharing desks and space and energy.
Though not everyone has always agreed with every aspect of Polly's vision for the Center (including me on occasion), it is impossible not to be impressed by the fashion with which she set an agenda and accomplished it. That kind of management skill is a pretty amazing thing to witness.
We wish her all the best and expect that, with all the great playwrights she nurtured and helped bring to Minnesota, even in her new job as Director of Artistic Development at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, she won't be a stranger in these parts in the future.