Student Success

Creative writers crowned as competition winners

Thanks to a generous alumnus, University of Lethbridge students have the opportunity to flex their creative-writing muscles and possibly win fame and fortune. The annual Striking Prose short story competition and Play Right Prize playwriting competition, sponsored by alum Terry Whitehead (BA '94), are proud to announce the 2014 award winners.

Contest winners, from left, include Czarina Zoleta, Liam Monaghan, Travis Robinson and Chelsea Woolley.

Taking the first place prize in the Striking Prose category is Travis Robinson for his short story, The Contest, in which a radio contest captures the attention and imagination of a small town. This was the only award presented this year for Striking Prose.

A three member jury consisting of Dr. Jay Gamble, Dr. Kiki Benzon and Dr. Heather Ladd critiqued the story by saying that through carefully building suspense, the author shifts perspectives between a number of average men and women, finally showing his audience that the extraordinary is never far from the ordinary. The strength of this story was its shifting focalization and whirling perspectival shifts. They also indicated that a contest where something is won and something is lost is the uneasy irony of this finely observed short story. 

First place for the Play Right Prize went to Czarina Zoleta for her play, In Another Life, which the jurors unanimously agreed on because the script moved them so strongly.

“There are beautiful relationships between characters in this script and the structure creates strong dramatic tension,” says Zaborsky on behalf of fellow jurors Jacqueline Russell and Meg Braem. “We thought it was subtle in its poignancy. All three of us were moved by the story. It also managed to successfully create believable alternative worlds.”

Because the quality was so high, this year’s Play Right Prize jurors found it too hard to decide on second and third place winners, so two second prize awards were presented to Liam Monaghan for Mad Little Gods and Chelsea Woolley for Goose, respectively. This was not Woolley’s first award for the Play Right Prize competition. In 2012, her play 1000 Names won second place and was produced in the 2012/2013 TheatreXtra season.

Monaghan and Woolley split the second and third prize awards, receiving $500 each. The jurors said that both plays captured great character voices and showed a wonderful use of conflict. Of Mad Little Gods, they said that the juxtaposition of Christmas hymns with the darkness of the tragic subject matter was a strong choice that creates a discomforting tension for the audience. The character voices in Goose were strong and clear, and Goose is a very likable character that has the audience immediately on her side.

Both winning entries receive a $1,500 prize, one of the most lucrative awards in the country for a student competition. The $5,000 in prize money is generously donated each year by alumnus Terry Whitehead, the competition aiming to encourage excellence and development in student playwriting.

The winning play and short story each receive a public reading on Thursday, Mar. 27at 7 p.m. in the David Spinks Theatre. Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend.