Finalists Announced for Prize for Women Playwrights
by Whitney Hale
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 5, 2015) — Three playwrights have been named finalists for the 2015 Prize for Women Playwrights presented by the Kentucky Women Writers Conference (KWWC).
Selected from a pool of more than 300 submissions, this year's finalists and their plays are:
- "The Silent Woman," the strange, true tale of a painter who lived with an effigy of an ex-lover and coaxes his scullery maid to play along, by Lydia Blaisdell of Austin, Texas;
- "Sisters/Sistahz," the story of identical twin African-American "sisters/sistahz" who must come to terms with their starkly differing views on black womanhood in America, by Daysha Veronica Edewi of Los Angeles; and
- "The Art of Jack the Ripper," a dark raucous performance work exploring why violence against women persists in reality and as entertainment — especially sexual violence, Stephanie Ross of Los Angeles.
Lydia Blaisdell is a current fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at University of Texas at Austin. In April 2015, she will premiere "Apocalypse Radio," an immersive retro-future radio play in the Cohen New Works Festival. She is a member playwright of Youngblood at Ensemble Studio Theater in New York City and the Brooklyn-based writers’ collective, Krïstïanïa. "Sucking & Spitting," her riff on the Bacchae, was a semifinalist for the 2014 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. In March 2014, her one-act, "Old Broads," was performed at the Off Shoot in Austin. In July 2013, she received a Jerome Travel and Study grant to travel to Vienna and Berlin to research "The Silent Woman." Her short plays have been performed in New York City, Austin, Aspen, Lake George and Paris, France. She received her bachelor's degree in English literature from Columbia University in 2009.
Daysha Veronica Edewi is a writer/director who graduated cum laude from Scripps College with bachelor's degrees in media studies and psychology. She grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was heavily involved in theatre, dance and writing from a young age. Her first and only completed play, "Sisters/Sistahz," has been the recipient of the Dr. Floyd Gaffney National Award in Playwriting from the University of San Diego, and the Grand Prize Winner for Stage Plays in the New York Screenplay Contest. Most recently, Edewi has been the recipient of an Award of Merit in African American Films from the Best Shorts International Film Competition and The Indie Fest, Scripps College’s Payton Watkins ‘09 Media Studies Award, Claremont College’s Dr. Samella Lewis Artist Award, The Audience’s Choice Award at Wanawake Weusi’s Black Arts Festival, and The National Science Foundation/University of Southern California Graduate School’s Professionalization Award for Postdoctoral Preparation. She has been featured on BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Women's Wear Daily and Indieporch.com.
Stephanie Ross’ plays include "Medea Now!," "Life After Life & Crazy Quilt," "Coming of Age in Gomorrah," "Unveiling the Evolutionary Landscape," "Images of Supremacy" and others. Ross, who holds a bachelor's degree from California Institute of the Arts, was the recipient of a King County Arts Commission Written Works-in-Progress grant.
She is currently a member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN International. Ross spent some 25 years working in late night television for "The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Ross retired as producer in 2012 and returned to playwriting with "The Art of Jack the Ripper," a play she revised with the help of Lee Wochner’s Los Angeles-based playwriting workshop. The playwright has been married to Gregory Ross for almost 45 years and collaborated with him on almost all her plays, their one son as he enters his second act, and their four works-in-progress grandchildren.
Finalists for the 2015 Prize for Women Playwrights were selected blindly by a judging panel of theater professionals including Mylissa Crutcher, Tonda Fields, Kathryn Newquist and Eric Seale. To be eligible to compete, submissions had to be one-act or full-length scripts in English with a running time between 45 and 90 minutes, which have not been published or commercially produced by a woman playwright. The plays' casts are limited to six actors, and there are no limitations on subject matter. Eligible plays also had to have more than one character.
The winner of the competition will be chosen by award-winning playwright Carson Kreitzer by Feb. 20, and will receive a $500 cash prize and a full theatrical world premiere in Lexington produced and directed by Lexington theater artist Eric Seale.
Kreitzer is probably best known for "The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer," which won the Lois and Richard Rosenthal New Play Prize, the American Theatre Critics’ Steinberg Citation, the Barrie Stavis Award, and is published in Smith and Kraus’ “New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2004” and by Dramatic Publishing. Her previous work, "SELF DEFENSE or death of some salesmen" has been produced across the country, and is published by Playscripts and in Smith and Kraus’ “Women Playwrights: Best Plays of 2002.” Other work by Kreitzer includes "Behind the Eye," "1:23," "Flesh and the Desert" and "The Slow Drag" (New York and London).
Kreitzer is a New Dramatists alumna, an associated artist with Clubbed Thumb and New Georges, a member of The Workhaus Collective and the Dramatists Guild, and is a core member and current board member of The Playwrights’ Center. She and composer Matt Gould are currently under commission from Yale Rep and New Dramatists for their new musical "LEMPICKA." She is also writing a new play for the Guthrie Theatre, and will travel to Ireland in October as the current Dowling Annaghmakerrig Fellow. Kreitzer has enjoyed support from the Jerome and McKnight foundations, the NEA, and the Toulmin Foundation, and was the first Playwrights Of New York (PoNY) Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center.
Kreitzer's most recent play, "Lasso of Truth," explores the origins of Wonder Woman and is a National New Play Network rolling world premiere, with productions at Marin Theatre Company, Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta, and Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City.
Now in its 37th year, the Kentucky Women Writers Conference is an annual event known for bringing notable women writers to Lexington for readings, writing workshops and discussions. A program housed in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, the conference is made possible in part by continued community partnerships, including its primary venue, the Carnegie Center. For more information on the conference, visit online at www.kentuckywomenwriters.org.