Archived Story

Voting open for ‘Emerging Playwright Award’

Published 7:18am Friday, April 4, 2014

A journey to discover a new emerging playwright began months ago.  The Beckwith Theatre Company teamed up with the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival to give a “leg-up” to an aspiring playwright’s career.

This unique search was designed to recognize emerging playwrights ages 18-30, living or studying in Michigan and northern Indiana.   Awards totaling $2,000 will be presented to the top three finishers in this competition.  Now is your chance to be the first to experience these works.

Stage readings of the three finalists will be presented on the Beckwith stage April 11, 12 and 13.  “Nantucket Sleigh Ride,” written by University of Michigan sophomore Graham Techler, will be presented on Friday, April 11.  “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” is set in a Cape Cod bed and breakfast, where the senile owner enlists a group of armed hit-men to protect the property against vandals. The owner’s grandson conspires with his girlfriend to rid the inn of the gangsters before something  terrible happens.  The mystery and misunderstandings in the plot were influenced  Techler’s  admiration for the works of crime novelist Elmore Leonard and playwright Martin McDonagh.

“Such Great Heights” by University of Michigan senior, Tyler Dean will be presented on Saturday, April 12.  Dean’s script tells the story of Jamie, a college student who falls in love with an atheist classmate at his school and the emotional and  moral dilemmas they face. Dean says the story is“is about belief, love and family.”

“Ambrotypes,” written by Notre Dame Student Kaitlyn Farrell, will be presented on Sunday, April 13.  “Ambrotypes” is a historical piece, following a photographer and a group of soldiers during the American Civil War.  Author Farrell said, “Despite the fact that events depicted would have taken place more than century ago, the ideas presented about the ethics and morality of wartime photography apply today more than ever.”

The audience will be part of the panel of judges who selects the “Dogwood/Beckwith Emerging Playwright Award.”  Audiences will be asked to judge each play at the end of its reading.

Area actors and actresses from a variety of community theatres have been readings scripts and are ready to share these new stories with the audience.  Tickets are $5 and are available by calling the Dogwood Festival at (269) 782-1115 or, as space allows, at the door the night of performance. Ticket sales for the April events will benefit area theatre programs.

The stage reading of the winning manuscript from the first “Dogwood/Beckwith Emerging Playwright Award”  will be featured during the  week-long Dogwood Fine Arts Festival May 9-18. Area actors from a collection of visiting community theatre programs will perform at the Beckwith Theatre on Monday, May 12.

The Dogwood Fine Arts Festival is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the St. Denys Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.  Tickets for the April 11, 12, 13 or May 12 are available at (269) 782-1115 or visit

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