Let's Give a Warm Welcome


In January 2020 our former editor Erin McNeil and I brainstormed how we could shift the magazine at Playlist to something more consistent and rooted in a diverse array of voices. At the time our objective was to bring on some part-time journalists whose voices could become synonymous with the Playlist magazine. I’m so excited to say that we have met that goal and would love to introduce the Minnesota performing arts community to our new Editorial Journalists: Kayla Hambek, Bianca Nkwonta, Sophie Peyton, and Tylie Shider.

These four individuals will usher in a new era at playlist. Working as a team they’ll be rotating editorial duties and creating the road map for the magazine in the months to come. As I referenced in my article earlier this summer, State of the (Web)site, having our editorial team as a flat hierarchy with each journalist working with the team to drive vision, ideas, and oversight of the magazine reflects the kind community driven approach that has been baked into Playlist from the get go.

But enough about highfalutin business strategy. Let’s get to the good stuff.

And so without further ado, our new Journalists!


Kayla Hambek (she/her)

Kayla Hambek is a nationally-produced playwright, actor, and co-founder of Aethem Theatre.  Her plays explore familial and other life-altering non-romantic relationships through an asexual, feminist lens.  Kayla has a BA in Theatre from Bethel University and an Augsburg University MFA, and has had the pleasure of working with Transformation Theatre (Washington, D.C.), Ixion Ensemble (Lansing, MI), Town and Country Players (Buckingham, PA), the University of Portland (OR), and many more organizations to bring her plays to life.  She has also acted across the Twin Cities (thanks to auditions found on Minnesota Playlist!), and is passionate about bringing new work to the stage in a time when we need artists so badly.

Kayla couldn't be more excited about this new opportunity with Minnesota Playlist!  She hopes to bring our readers stories about Little Theatres That Could, queer theatremakers, feminist theatremakers, puppeteers and devisers and creators from all across this great state (with a few business tips and tricks along the way).  Theatre is a magical, terrifying, wonderful beautiful transformative thing, and if she can share even the smallest sprinkle of that magic with all of you, she'll consider herself quite blessed.

Bianca Nkwonta (she/her)

“I've always been interested in the performing arts, whether it was community theater performances, to fringe festival shows, to coffee shop sketch shows. Performing arts is my personal favorite connection to the strong arts community in the Twin Cities. 

I am so excited to be working with the Minnesota Playlist. There is a ton of talent in the Twin Cities, and a lot of creatives have not received the coverage they are due. I can't wait to highlight musicians, producers, actors, filmmakers, and playwrights, particularly Black creatives, who are doing the work to connect the community to art that is invigorating, different, often restorative, and always fun.”

Sophie Peyton (she/her)

Sophie Peyton is a freelance director, producer, and dramaturg; working primarily in new play and new musical theater development. Regional credits include: McCarter Theatre Center, Wilma Theater, MN Opera, Mixed Blood Theatre, Park Square Theater, History Theatre, and Trademark Theater. She’s had the pleasure of assisting directors Emily Mann, Jamil Jude, Peter Rothstein, Doug Scholz-Carlson, and Laura Leffler. As Intimacy Consultant: Park Square Theatre’s Jefferson Township Sparkling Junior Talent Pageant; Mixed Blood Theatre’s Song of Summer and Interstate. Sophie Peyton is a passionate advocate for anti-racist and anti-oppression theater practices. She is a member of the MN Artist Coalition, an artist-led effort to create more equitable treatment and financial opportunity for artist workers in Minnesota. She volunteered with the MN Theater Accountability Coalition, working to create statewide standards for mental and physical safety across theater organizations in Minnesota. 

Sophie is thrilled to join the MN Playlist team to uplift and reimagine this platform for connecting theater artists across the state. Sophie is excited to bring greater transparency to the Twin Cities theater community through interviews, critical conversations, and investigations around active systemic transformation and effective arts leadership happening locally and with community at its heart. She hopes to explore how the theater industry got to this place of such exclusion, tokenism, wealth disparity, and product-over-people mentality by illuminating intersections of race, class, gender, and privilege. Sophie is eager to unify more artists in the fight for systemic change through a deeper understanding of nonprofit and philanthropic history and a clearer path forward for action and sacrifice to build a sustainable anti-oppression theater industry.

Tylie Shider (he/him)

“I consider myself an investigative-playwright with a background in journalism. This is an exciting opportunity for me to marry my degrees in media and theatre as I continue to develop plays and make a holistic contribution to the American theatre.”

Tylie Shider is a two-time recipient of the Jerome Fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center (PWC) and an I Am Soul playwright in residence at the National Black Theatre (NBT). His recent plays include Labor, Whittier (PWC) and The Gospel Woman (NBT). He holds a BA in Journalism from Delaware State University and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU. A proud member of the Dramatist Guild, he is currently a Professor of Playwriting at Augsburg University.

You can check out more of Tylie on Instagram: @theplaywright 


Headshot of Damon Runnals
Damon Runnals

Damon Runnals is the co-founder of Swandive Theatre with Meg DiSciorio, benevolent overlord of Minnesota Playlist, a local D&D Dungeon Master, and father to two amazing girls.