University of Lethbridge alumnus Terry Whitehead (BA ’94) learned early that he was not destined to become an actor, but it did not dampen his enthusiasm for the theatre.
Already the backer behind the University’s annual Play Right Prize and Striking Prose competitions, Whitehead is now the lead donor behind the Fiction at Fifty playwriting competition that will commission a new, full-length on-campus play to be produced in October 2017 in celebration of the University of Lethbridge’s 50th anniversary.
“I thought this would be a great way for the Department of Theatre and Dramatic Arts to participate in and celebrate the 50th anniversary,” says Whitehead, a managing partner with Alexander Whitehead Executive Search in Vancouver and Calgary. “What greater thing to do than commission brand new Canadian plays and then have that play produced and performed on the University stage?”
Whitehead studied English at the U of L and took full advantage of the University’s liberal arts focus by participating in a variety of theatre classes, saying he had ample opportunity to be on stage.
“That’s where I realized my career in theatre was not on stage because you need talent, of which I lacked,” jokes Whitehead. “But I really came to appreciate what putting together a play was all about. I saw all the comparisons between a sports team and a theatre production, in terms of the teamwork needed to be successful, and those experiences were very formative to me.”
Fiction at Fifty is open to all Canadian playwrights, amateur or professional, single or as a collective. Playwrights must submit a four-page commission proposal to the contest by Mar. 17, 2014, at which time a jury will select three proposals and offer a $2,000 commissioning contract to each to write a full-length draft within 18 months.
From there, a second jury will convene and evaluate the completed drafts and select a winning play. An additional $2,000 plus travel expenses will then be awarded to the winner, as well as royalties upon production of the play. The play will be a part of the Department of Theatre and Dramatic Arts mainstage season in October 2017.
“One of the great things about this contest is that the format allows for three plays to get initial funding, it’s very rare that playwrights get a commission to go and write their works,” says Whitehead. “What’s been so great about this process is the work that the entire department and especially Doug MacArthur and Nick Hanson have done to pull this together. It’s one thing to come up with an idea and quite another to have support throughout the entire department to make it happen.”
For more information on the Fiction at Fifty playwriting competition, visit this website.
For more inspiring stories on the individuals and organizations who have helped shaped the University of Lethbridge, please visit: http://www.uleth.ca/campaigns/giving/