Thoughts from our 2016 Barlow Prize Recipients
An interview with last year's Barlow Prize recipient,
History Matters/Back to the Future awarded The Second Annual Judith Barlow Prize to Lindsay Adams, Catholic University of America. Inspired by Mary Chase's Harvey, Adam's play Her Own Devices shares the story of Madeleine, a young girl with a rare autoimmune disorder that forces her to spend her life in a lab, as doctors run endless tests. She copes with the help of her imaginary friend Robot, and ultimately must decide whether or not to leave the only home she’s known.
1 - Why did you choose to enter the Judith Barlow Prize?
I was inspired by the plays on the History Matters/Back to the Future list and I thought it was a wonderful opportunity. I was so excited by the organization’s mission of getting female playwrights taught in college classes and I knew that I could learn so much from hearing my play read aloud and seeing how an audience responds to it.
2 - Talk about hearing your play read in NYC.
It was a magical weekend. Working with all of the actors and, my director, with Jade [King Carroll] was an exceptional experience. I learned so much about the play from the questions that they asking and seeing the enthusiasm they brought to the piece was a powerful affirmation of all the time and lifeblood I put into the play. Writers so often spend much of their time isolated, typing away at their computer. Getting to be in rehearsal and see the product of all the work brought to life with a reading is one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had.
3 - Who are your favorite playwrights?
I would have to mention Sarah Ruhl, Luigi Pirandello, Donald Margulies. and Jennifer Haley. There are so many more, and often I am influenced by artists in other mediums as well.
4 - Are you working on any plays currently?
Yes, I am in the middle of a play called Viper, inspired by the folklore and myths surrounding snakes and the demon Lilith. Set in Victorian England it deals with how history views women and how monsters are so often made by the society that surrounds them.
5 - What are your plans after graduation?
I am very passionate about education, specifically arts education. I think it is incredibly important to give students a creative outlet, and allow them to express themselves through creative writing. My long-term goal is to create an after-school program that enlists college students studying artistic disciplines to teach theatre and art in schools that have had their arts programming cut.
And thoughts from our 2016 Runner-Up Recipient, Aaron Scully
This project began as an assignment for a class and turned into something so much more. When I read Georgia Douglas Johnson's play, Plumes, I was immediately struck by the power of the play and I knew I wanted to use it for inspiration. I researched African-American medical care in the south in the early 1900s and came across stories about what it was like for the first black doctors in rural communities in the south - the obstacles they faced seemed insurmountable. Johnson's play and my research gave me the idea for a story based around a seemingly minor character in Plumes: Dr. Scott. After that, it was one of those writing experiences that only happens every so often - I couldn't type as fast as the play wanted to be written. I have the great people from History Matters, my professor, Dr. Cheryl Black, and most importantly, Georgia Douglas Johnson to thank for giving me such a magical experience.