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Plays & Playwrights

A list of awardees and new opportunities to win some.

Winning Writers

Russell Davis, Amlin Gray, Wendy Kesselman and Emily Mann are the recipients of the 1985-86 McKnight Foundation Fellowships for Playwrights. Each writer receives an $8,500 stipend and will spend a minimum of two months in residence at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis; an additional $1,500 is available to cover costs of developmental work at the Center for each playwright.

Bryan Williams has won the Unicorn Theatre National Playwright Competition with Bangs and Whimpers, a black farce about the nuclear winter. His prize consists of $1,000 and a full production of the play in June at the 1,600-seat Folly Theatre in Kansas City, plus travel and residency expenses. Bangs and Whimpers was also a winning entry in the Western Illinois University Playwriting Competition, earning Williams $250 and a WIU production.

Frank Manley and Ellen McLaughlin are co-winners of Actors Theatre of Louisville’s 1984 Great American Play Contest, and will divide the $7,500 prize. Manley’s Two Masters is an evening of Southern hospitality and “good works” in two scenes—the first sheds a chilling light on a rural couple who entertain a murderer; the second reveals the awkward attempt of two well-intentioned women to comfort a bedridden man. McLaughlin’s Days and Nights Within, set in an East Berlin prison in 1950, finds a woman accused of spying matching her intellect, strength and blind determination against the power of the state and the keen insights of her interrogator. Both plays were performed during Actors Theatre’s 1985 Humana Festival of New American Plays.

ATL’s just-completed festival also included Bruce Bonafede’s Advice to the Players, winner of the $1,000 Heideman Award. Bonafede’s one-act play illustrates the plight of two South African actors whose art is interrupted by the admonishments of a concerned countryman. Should their responsibility be to the art they have striven to perfect or to protesting a social system that could destroy their life’s work?

Another play dealing with conditions in South Africa, A Woman Against Apartheid by Samuel Hay, has won the national Black Playwriting Contest sponsored by the Detroit Center for the Performing Arts, where the play was staged in March. Hay received $1,000 and was brought in from Baltimore for the production.

The $500 first prize in the John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award contest went to Jane Waterhouse for Private Apartments; Julia Steiny received the $250 second prize for The Proposal. Both plays were presented in staged readings at the New England Theatre Conference’s New Scripts Showcase.

Playwrights’ Update

Full-length plays—100 minutes or longer—written in English and not previously offered for production may be entered in the new Mobil Playwriting Competition for the Royal Exchange Theatre Company of Manchester, England. Three prizes of $510,000 (approximately $10,700), $55,000 ($5,350) and $3,000 ($3,210) will be awarded. Additionally, according to Mobil, “the winning play or plays will be performed by the Royal Exchange Theatre Company and published by Faber and Faber, circumstances permitting. Entries must arrive by Aug. 31, 1985. Rules are available from the Mobil Playwriting Competition, The Royal Exchange Theatre Company, St. Ann’s Square, Manchester M2 7DH, England.

Playwrights from around the country may apply for admission to the Shenandoah Valley Playwrights Retreat, convening Aug. 7-25 in Staunton, Va. Some fellowships for tuition costs are available. In addition, any playwright who has maintained a Virginia residence for a major portion of the past year may apply for the first Virginia Playwrights Fellowship.

Funded by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, this two-step fellowship will bring the writer first to the retreat for a summer workshop with dramaturgs, directors and actors, and then take him or her on to a second-stage workshop production at the Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk during the 1985-86 season. The playwright will also receive a $1,000 award. Application deadline is April 15. Contact Shenandoah Valley Playwrights Retreat, Pennyroyal Farm, Box 167-F, Rt. 5, Staunton, VA 24401; (708) 248-1868.

Florida playwrights are invited to submit scripts to Florida International University’s first Summer New Playwrights Festival. Six plays—four one-acts and two full-length—will be produced in a June 24-Aug. 16 workshop, and prize money totaling $2,000 will be awarded. Writers whose work is not selected for full production will be invited to join other playwrights in workshop experimental projects during the summer session. Submission deadline is May 1. Contact Department of Performing Arts, Florida International University, Tamiami Campus, Miami, FL 33199; (305) 554-2895.

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