February Friends Lecture

February 10, 2022 11:00 am

THIS EVENT HAS PASSED

Pillsbury Auditorium

Ticket Price: Free

Join us on February 10 at 11am when the Friends Lecture series welcomes Star Tribune theater critic Rohan Preston.

Please note: In accordance with the current City of Minneapolis mandate, Mia now requires all visitors ages 5 and older to show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination. Mia also requires all visitors to wear a mask.

A Life of Imagination: How an Immigrant Kid Found His Passion — and Freedom — in the Arts

Photo credit: Thomas John Wallace

Star Tribune theater critic Rohan Preston grew up with parents, both Jamaican immigrants, who were so fearful of 1970s and ‘80s New York, they forbade their children to just go “hang out.” Their fear was that their children would literally be eaten up by the concrete jungle. But the youngsters could go to the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, to various museums, and to live performances of music and theater, including Broadway. Preston overindulged, becoming a glutton for cultural knowledge and experience not just for aesthetic reasons but because paintings and books, music, opera and dance literally meant freedom, as his teenage mind perceived it. That experiential education gave him a foundation that he polished at Yale, where he studied English and critical theory, devising his own path to becoming both an appreciator and an arbiter of arts and culture.

Preston was born in Jamaica and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he attended an arts magnet high school. His fascination with the theater began in the 10th grade when he began writing plays and poetry. In college, in addition to his coursework, Preston wrote for a variety of student publications, which enabled him to develop a marketable skill. Following graduation, he and a friend moved to Chicago in the hope of launching careers as playwrights, but it was writing theater reviews that kept him afloat.  Freelance writing for the Chicago Tribune and as a stringer for The New York Times eventually led to full-time employment at the Tribune. He was recruited by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1998 to be the paper’s theater critic and has remained in the Twin Cities ever since.

Over his decades as a theater critic, Rohan Preston has interviewed a raft of luminary artists, including playwrights Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Edward Albee and Tony Kushner. He has the unique distinction of being an Emmy Award-winning critic, having led a Star Tribune team that won the coveted award for a documentary on the historic 2008 elections. Preston has twice served on the Pulitzer jury for drama. In addition to his journalistic pursuits, Preston continues to compose poetry, write plays and take photographs, and loves to till the soil at home with his wife, poet Angela Shannon, and, when they visit, their two adult daughters.

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