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Plays and Playwrights

Llosa, Pietri, Chislett, Lucas, and more.

Hispanic Voices

Theatre Communications Group’s Literary Services department has announced the first recipients of the new Hispanic Translation project commissions. They are the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, Fla. for Kerry McKenney and Anthony Oliver-Smith’s translation of Kathie y el hipopótamo (the working title is Kathy and the Hippopotamus) by the noted Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa; and the Intiman Theatre Company in Seattle for Joanne Pottlitzer’s translation of Chuo Gil y las tejedoras (Mythweavers is the English title) by Venezuelan Arturo Uslar Pietri.

Both theatres will receive $1,000 (which they will at least match in payment for the translations), thanks to a grant to TCG from the National Endowment for the Arts. Other aspects of the project will include the circulation of information about Hispanic drama and other resources, including descriptions of plays that exist already in English translation or are likely candidates for translation to the American stage.

“We are delighted to begin this project so auspiciously with plays by these distinguished writers,” said James Leverett, director of Literary Services at TCG. “Further commissions will be announced as American theatres begin to recognize more and more that Hispanic cultures, which have given us so much in other forms of literature, are also incredibly rich in theatre.”

Over the last two decades, because of works such as The Green House, Conversation in the Cathedral and most recently The War of the End of the World, Vargas Llosa has become established as one of the most important novelists now writing in any language. Kathy and the Hippopotamus, his second play, appeared in Spanish in 1983.

Arturo Uslar Pietri was deeply influenced as a young man by the Surrealist movement and was a member of a circle of artists in Paris of the early 1930s to which Dali and Giraudoux also belonged. His novels have been widely published in South America and Europe. They include The Road of Eldorado (1947) written in a style he called “magic realism,” a term which has since been used to describe most of Latin American writing today. The Spanish version of Mythweavers is his only published play.

Winning Writers

Canadian playwright Anne Chislett is the winner of the 1983 Governor General’s Literary Drama Award for English Drama for her play Quiet in the Land. The $5,000 prize was presented Sept. 25 in Ottawa. Commissioned by the Blyth Festival and premiered there in 1981, Chislett’s drama deals with the relationship of two Amish families, a son who rebels against his father by going off to the First World War, and the effect of modern technology on the Amish lifestyle. It also won the $5,000 Chalmers Award for Best Canadian Play in 1982, and has been produced by a number of Canadian theatres.

Chislett’s most recent play, an epic drama based on the true story of two 19th-century Canadian women, tentatively titled Maria Wait or A Parcel of Rogues, was commissioned by the Stratford Festival and given a public reading there earlier this fall.

The most recent—and unfortunately the last—$5,000 grant from the Áleen and lacques Leslie Playwright Fund has gone to Boston playwright John O’Brien for his play-in-progress The Man in the Brown Coat. After providing two grants each year for the last five years, the Fund was formally terminated on Sept. 1.

New York playwright Craig Lucas, author of Blue Window, has been chosen to receive the first George and Elisabeth Marton Award for playwriting. Provided by the agent Elisabeth Marton in honor of her late brother George, who was also a theatrical agent, the $1,000 award will be given every fall to a new playwright by the Dramatists Guild. The Production Company’s staging of Lucas’ satiric comedy, which brings together seven people before, during and after a New York dinner party, opened in May and is currently running at Theater Guinevere in New York City.

Playwrights’ Update

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Landers Theatre in Springfield, Mo., a new play chosen from scripts submitted in a national playwriting competition will be produced there next May 16-26 and the author of the winning entry will receive $2,500 plus travel and lodging expenses to attend rehearsals and performances. The historic theatre, a 680-seat proscenium house, is the home of Springfield Little Theatre, the largest and oldest civic theatre in the state. The deadline for submitting unproduced full-length, non-musical plays to the competition is Dec. 1. Springfield station KOZK-TV is planning a television special about the production. Obtain guidelines from Mick Denniston, Managing/ Artistic Director, Springfield Little Theatre at the Landers, 311 East Walnut St. Springfield, MO 65806; (417) 869-3869.

Baker’s Plays has announced the acquisition of Performance Publishing Company, formerly of Elgin, Ill. Many of the most popular Performance Publishing titles are musicals geared for production by children’s theatre groups, middle and secondary schools. Information and a catalogue are available from Baker’s, 100 Chauncy St., Boston, MA 02111; (617) 482-1280.

Stage West of Springfield, Mass., is planning a playwrights festival, possibly as early as next summer. New England writers with new non-musical plays requiring no more than eight actors are urged to submit their scripts to John McCluggage, Stage-West, One Columbus Center, Springfield, MA 01103; (413) 781-4470.

Full-length plays may be submitted to a new playwriting contest sponsored by the Columbia Theatre Players of Hammond, La. The winning playwright will receive $300 and a staged reading. Submit scripts before Nov. 15 to Columbia Theatre Players. Box 3091, Hammond, LA 70404.

For information on hundreds of contests, grants, awards and other opportunities for playwrights, translators, composers, Iyricists and librettists, refer to TCG’s Dramatists Sourcebook, The 1984-85 edition can be ordered for $9.95 plus postage and handling by using the order form in the back of this issue.

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