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Sam Sorenson ’21, Jheel Shah ’19 and Katrina Timbers ’18 read through “I Did Something” by Basak Akman ’19, a winning screenplay in this year’s Heermans-McCalmon Writing Competition.

Student playwrights, screenwriters honored March 23

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock

The winning stage plays and screenplays from this year’s Heermans-McCalmon Writing Competition will be showcased Friday, March 23, at 4:30 p.m. in the Class of ’56 Dance Theatre at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.

“Winners of the competition have the rare opportunity to workshop their scripts with guest faculty and student participants and to see them transformed onto the stage or screen,” said Pamela Lillard, director of productions and events for the Department of Performing and Media Arts (PMA).

The event includes staged readings of the first- and second-place winning plays, “I Did Something” by Basak Akman ’19 and “The Forever War” by Gloria Oladipo ’21; a screening of “In the Cold,” by first-place screenplay winner Sarah Nixon ’18; and a style plan of “The Absence of No” by second-place screenplay winner Madeleine Gray ’20.

Following the presentations, a panel discussion moderated by PMA faculty member Aoise Stratford will feature playwright and novelist Kia Corthron and playwright and screenwriter T.D. Mitchell.

Honorable mentions in the competition went to Janilya Baizack for her screenplay “Love Trumps Hate” and to Jonvi Rollins ’20 for his stage play “Black Sheep.”

Nixon’s screenplay received special treatment earlier this month, when visiting cinematographer Ivan Rodrigues worked with students to film the script during his time on campus as part of PMA’s Professional Directions speaker series.

The Heermans-McCalmon Writing Competition, which has been around for 70 years, was established at the bequest of Forbes Heermans (Class of 1878) in memory of the late George McCalmon, professor of speech and drama.

“I entered the contest because my playwriting teachers, Aoise Stratford and Erin Stoneking, recommended it to the class,” Oladipo said. “[I was] excited at the potential to have my art judged and critiqued by professionals.”

First-place winners are awarded $250, and second-place winners receive $100. In addition to the cash prize, first-place winners also receive Final Draft Software, a screenwriting software to write and format screenplays, and a membership to the Dramatists Guild of America, the professional association of American playwrights.

In addition to the Heermans-McCalmon awards, the Drama Book Shop Award will be presented at the March 23 event. This award is given to a PMA senior for outstanding achievement in theater. The winner receives a $100 gift certificate to the Drama Book Shop in New York City.

Anna Carmichael is a communications assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences.