Student screen and stage plays honored

By: Yvette Lisa Ndlovu,  A&S Communications
December 7, 2017

Six students were recently honored by the Department of Performing & Media Arts as winners of the Heermans-McCalmon writing competition for the best playwriting and screenwriting produced by students.

“Giving students platforms for artistic expression is so important,” Gloria Oladipo ‘21 said. “PMA students need platforms for their work in the same way that science students need labs to run experiments. Artists should be able to stand by their work and embrace it fully.”

The Heermans-McCalmon annual awards were established to promote the arts and given at the bequest of Forbes Heermans ‘78 and in memory of the late George McCalmon, professor of speech and drama.

Oladipo’s play, “The Forever War,” won second prize in the stage play category. The play is about a relationship between two men who have to contend with the different issues that being in the military has brought into their lives, Oladipo said.

“I think the play is a case study of the different points of ugliness and sadness that can arise through ordinary relationships,” Oladipo, who is considering majoring in either Government, Computer Science or Performing & Media Arts, said

Oladipo enjoys writing in the realm of realism. She said she seeks to highlight the parts of life that are often ignored and write about them in new and unique ways. Gray’s main focus in the PMA department is dance but she enjoys theatre and film, as well.

Madeleine Gray ‘20, a performing & media arts major won second place in the screenplay category for “The Absence of No.”

“The Absence of No” focuses on Jenny, traumatic assault she experiences and the details about it that come to light as the timeline is examined and re-examined. The work explores how people interact when confronted with an event of this nature, Gray said.

“The origin of this piece came from a very personal place as well as a general anger with the stigma around victims,” Gray said. “A lot of my work deals with pain and loss as I find these subjects both controversial and terrifying.”

Gray said she is grateful for the guidance she gained by being part of the competition.  

“The PMA department and its students like to push boundaries and flex the borders of their art,” Gray said. “It’s one of my favorite things and when you have this writing competition, this anonymity to really delve into a daunting task, it helps you embrace the uncertainty and confront something bigger than yourself and then get real, honest feedback on it.”

First-place entries are award $250 and second-place entries are awarded $100. First-place winners are also awarded a copy of Final Draft software for playwriting and either a yearlong subscription to a relevant professional publication or a yearlong membership in a relevant professional organization.

A film of the winning screenplay “In the Cold” by Sarah Nixon '18 and a staged reading of the winning stage play “I Did Something” by Basak Akman '19 will be presented on Friday, March 23, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. in SB10, Schwartz Center. The screening and reading will be followed by a panel discussion with industry guests.

“To me, the ultimate goal of artists is to communicate a message to their audience,” Oladipo said. “One of the most effective ways to see if that message is being communicated is through having a group of people to share your work with, especially people who understand and can respect the medium that your work is being delivered in.”

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant in the College of Arts & Sciences.

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