For the second year in a row, James Wade, a BFA multidisciplinary major, has taken first place in the University's PlayRight Prize competition.
The $5,000 in prize money allotted to the PlayRight Prize and Striking Prose competitions is one of the highest awards in the country, with $1,500 going to each first place winner, and $750 and $250 being handed out to the second and third place finishers respectively.
Wade's winning PlayRight entry this year is True Believers. Meanwhile, the top prize in the Striking Prose short story category went to, Wreck on the Highway, by David Bryant. Bryant, who just completed his BA/BEd degree, took the top prize in 2009 and placed third in the 2010 event. Both first place entries will be read in a public performance on Thursday, Mar. 31 at 7 p.m. in the David Spinks Theatre.
Aislinn MacCulloch took second place in the Striking Prose competition with, Getting Martha Home, while Camille Fairbanks', Sacrament, took the third prize. In the PlayRight competition, Camille Pavlenko took second place for, Permission, and Shelly Eli's, Praying for the Man, placed third.
Generously supported by U of L alumnus Terry Whitehead, the competition encourages excellence and development in student writing.
Wade's play, True Believers, is set in the studio of comic book artists and explores the dangerous intersections between art and politics, especially when personal relationships are on the line. The PlayRight Prize jury found that the combination of insightful human emotions and imaginative theatrical concepts provided True Believers with all the ingredients for a compelling stage event.
Bryant's short story, Wreck on the Highway, was called a brilliant and gut-wrenching account of the emotional fall-out experienced by a volunteer fireman's attendance at a fatal traffic accident. The Striking Prose jury found Bryant's writing sophisticated and quite publishable, commenting that he makes the external world and the internal landscape of his story utterly believable.
The juries in both categories had numerous positive things to say about the winning entries. Of MacCulloch's writing, they commented that it showed originality and an ability to project a narrative voice that holds the reader's attention. Her story, Getting Martha Home, is a poignantly comic story about a struggling native woman's friendship with a bemused librarian who tries to help improve her lot in life.
Jurors felt that Fairbanks told a moving story in a convincing manner. Her entry, Sacrament, is a story of memory and mortality, contrasting the idealization of death (and life) with an almost savage realism from the consciousness of the dying protagonist.
Pavlenko's play, Permission, was touted for its quirky sense of humour and a cast of eccentric characters, which offered a clever commentary on the insecurities and anxieties of relationships. Jurors found that Eli's, Praying for a Man, introduces a pair of vibrant characters, who capture audience interest with their outrageously funny and endlessly passionate observations about life on the reserve.
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