Austin playwrights are drawing attention around the nation, and one theatre company is getting hit by the Macbeth curse smack in the face.

Playwright Recognition

Austin's playwrights aren't nearly as well-known nationally as its musicians, but that may not be the case for long. A number of the folks who pen dramas for our stages are drawing increased attention from the entities that fund and develop new plays.

  • Last month, playwright Sharon Bridgforth (lovve/rituals & rage, dyke/warrior-prayers, blood pudding) was one of the recipients of a Rockefeller Foundation Multi-Arts Production Fund grant for the Frontera@Hyde Park Theatre world premiere staging of con flama. Bridgforth shared the grant with collaborators Laurie Carlos and Lourdes Perez.

  • This month, the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays has awarded a grant to John Walch (Craving Gravy, or Love in the Time of Cannibalism) for his play The Dinosaur Within. (The award included a grant to the State Theater Company to stage the work's world premiere.) Walch also received the Charlotte Woolard Award, established in memory of the Kennedy Center director of protocol and board secretary who passed away in 1999. The Woolard Award, given annually to a promising new voice in the American theatre, carries no monetary prize but is considered a great honor.

  • This week, former Austin playwright Wesley Middleton, currently of Seattle, received word that her play Degas' Little Dancer, which was commissioned by Zachary Scott Theatre Center's Project InterAct, developed by InterAct, and given its world premiere in Austin this year, will be published this fall. The play has been contracted for publication by Dramatic Publishing Company and will be included in the publisher's fall catalog, along with Middleton's The Tomato Plant Girl, another play for young audiences which was also produced in Austin by UT's Department of Theatre & Dance and presented at Playfest.

  • Playwright and sometime Chronicle Arts contributor Colin Swanson (Waterless Places) has been waitlisted for the Yaddo writer's colony to work on her new full-length play, The Death of a Cat. As this was Swanson's first application, just being waitlisted was a significant recognition. In addition, her play God Is Kind to Some Women was one of three finalists for the Mark A. Klein Award at Case Western University. This calendar year, Swanson has been a finalist for a grand total of 10 awards, fellowships, or residencies with four of her plays.

    Don't Mess With Macbe ... Um, That Play

    Marshall Ryan Maresca, who directed the female-dominated Disciples of Melpomene production of Macbeth running currently at the John Henry Faulk Living Theatre, was not one to put much stock in the old stories of the Scottish Play's curse. But in the last couple of weeks, he and the cast of his Macbeth have seen the kind of mishaps that have fueled the play's evil rep for four centuries. "The day you run my statement that 'the curse hasn't hit us,'" he notified me by e-mail, "Rebecca Robertson, our Macduff, gets hit square in the face during one of the fight scenes. She turned out to be all right, save the welt on her left cheek, and finished the show without any further problem." Then, he adds, in another performance the same weekend, "it hit Alison Terry (who plays Fleance, Young Siward, and a few others). During one of the fight sequences, she got hit, cutting her face. She finished the show, but then went to the E.R. to get stitches. You'll be glad to know that the cast all decided to have a brush-up fight rehearsal." The Disciples of Melpomene Macbeth is reviewed in this week's "Exhibitionism," p. 60. The production closes Saturday, October 28.

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    Sharon Bridgforth, Rockefeller Multi-Arts Production (MAP) Fund, FronteraHyde Park Theatre, Laurie Carlos, Lourdes Perez, John Walch, State Theater Company, Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, Wesley Middleton, con flama, The Dinosaur Within, Degas’ Little D

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