Each year Stage West features the top winning plays from the Southwest Playwriting Competition in its New Play Readings Festival. Each play's author is usually in attendance for his or her reading, and audiences are invited to stay for a talk-back after the reading*!
The winners for the 2016 competition are:
First Place - Like a Billion Likes by Erik Forrest Jackson
Misty Riggs is a nobody. No, really, she is— that’s an undisputed fact. But just as she’s starting sophomore year, she gets a vague notion that she should try to stand out somehow before it’s too late. But Misty’s maneuver only results in making her more of an outsider, and after one blow too many, she makes one final, desperate bid for glory—the terrible culmination of her burning desire to get recognized for something, for anything, no matter how she achieves it.
Directed by Ryan McBride, and featuring Reagan Hutto as Misty, Kennedy Waterman as Alix, Tex Patrello as Jacey, Jennifer Engler as Colleen, and Aaron Roberts as Perry.
About the playwright
In addition to winning Stage West’s Southwest Playwriting Contest, Like A Billion Likes is also the winner of the Robert Chesley/Victor Bumbalo Playwriting Award; a top 10 finalist for the Woodward/Newman Drama Award; a finalist for the 2016 Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference; and the runner-up in the Todd McNerney Playwriting Contest. He has been awarded a 2017 residency grant at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico.
Last fall, Jackson adapted the beloved TV comedy Cheers for a live stage event in Boston and Chicago. New York premieres include the plays Charlie!; Doll; Carrie (all at P.S. 122); and Tell-Tale (Off Broadway’s Cherry Lane Theater, GLADD nomination Best Play). His musical Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, co-written with Ben H. Winters and featuring the songs of Neil Sedaka, has been performed globally, most recently in London and Seoul. Jackson was commissioned to author a series of mashups merging classic novels and Jim Henson’s Muppets for Penguin Books and Disney. The first title, Muppets Meet the Classics: The Phantom of the Opera, will be published in October. Long ago, Jackson’s poems appeared in the Showtime film The Escape, starring Patrick Dempsey.
Even longer ago, Jackson grew up in Parker and graduated from Plano East Senior High. He now lives in Manhattan and is currently the Executive Projects Director at Entertainment Weekly. For more, visit ErikForrestJackson.com. Twitter: @MrErikJackson. Instagram: erikforrestjackson.
Second Place - Parched by Karen Murphy and Cason Murphy
Stranded in the desert near the border, a fiery young dancer and an eager minuteman are thrust together to face the ultimate test of survival as the battle the landscape, themselves, and each other. When they come across someone from the other side of the border, danger mounts, death looms, and the lines between friend and foe become as hazy and distant as the endless horizon line.
Directed by Seth Johnson, and featuring Brian Mathis as Minuteman, Taylor Donnelson as Dancer, and Jason Villarreal as Mexican Nationalist.
About the playwrights
Karen Murphy has a BA in journalism from Baylor University and an MA in Theatre Arts from Prescott College. She created, wrote and directed Ghost Talk, an annual production of historic ghostly folklore at the Prescott Center for the Arts, where she serves as a costumer, director, actress, and crew member for the 194-seat theatre in Prescott, Az. Her comedies The King’s New Threads and Little Hospital of Horrors premiered at the Bosque Arts Center, and her short film The Pope of Pontius County was an award winner at both the Bare Bones and the Thunderbird International Film Festivals. Other works include Looking for a Miracle, a finalist in the Out of the Mouth of Babes Female Playwrights Festival, and Shopping with BevAnn and Niki, a finalist in the Onstage Project Readings Festival in Sedona, Az. Karen was born in Ft. Worth, TX.
Cason Murphy has a BA in Theatre from UCLA and his MFA in Theatre Directing from Baylor University. He served two AmeriCorps terms as Technical Director at the Prescott Center for the Arts and is the co-founder of The@trics Theatre. Cason was Artist-in-Residence at the Yuma Arts Center where he co-wrote with Karen the original youth devised piece You-ma! The playwriting duo also created the 10-minute comedies The Gods Must Be Crazy for the Iron Show 24-Hour Play Festival in Los Angeles and Once Upon a Cruise Ship for the One Day Plays Festival in Prescott, Az. He is currently the Director of Theatre and Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Ark. Cason was born in Clifton, TX.
*What is a Staged Reading? It's a form of theatre without sets or full costumes. The actors, who read from scripts, may be seated, stand in fixed positions, or incorporate minimal stage movement. They are invaluable to playwrights "to gauge the effectiveness of the dialogue, pacing, flow and other dramatic elements" in new works. YOUR feedback contributes to the process of bringing new art to life!