UH Playwrights Earn Regional, National Honors

Several student playwrights from the University of Houston’s School of Theatre & Dance have kicked off 2016 in a big way. Their plays – written and developed in UH’s undergraduate Playwriting & Dramaturgy program – are receiving honors at prominent theater festivals this spring.

This month, plays from seven UH Bachelor of Fine Arts students will be honored during the Texas Educational Theatre Association’s PlayFest in Dallas. Their works were selected from more than 80 submissions from around the state. They will be performed during PlayFest, which runs Jan. 28 – 31, in front of peers and professionals. Honorees are as follows.

Full-Length Play Award

  • Troy Loftin for “Cuckoo” (Loftin, a theater major and Honors College student, premiered this work at UH in November 2015.)

10-Minute Play Awards

  • Bonnie Christiansen for “No Pizzas to Make”
  • Jeana Magallon for “Pathetique”
  • Eric Moore for “A Superhero Walks Into a Bar”
  • Connor Woods for “Roundpoints, Recoil and You”
  • Faith Tenney for “Love and Other Diseases”
  • Nicole Zimmerer for “Directions Not Available”

“Receiving the PlayFest award is such an honor,” said Zimmerer. “As a young playwright, it’s really encouraging to be recognized for your work. I’m excited to represent UH playwriting in Dallas.”

In addition to UH’s TETA award recipients, undergraduate student playwrights also earned awards from regional and national competitions.

Bachelor of Fine Arts student Paige Zubel will receive a national honor this year. Her play “Gel Us” is among five winners in the Darkhorse Dramatists’ “Write to the Heart” Festival, Feb. 19 and 20 in Binghamton, New York. Zubel’s work will be performed in Binghamton’s Cider Mill Playhouse.

Two of Caitlin Turnage’s works will be recognized at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 6, which runs Feb. 24 – 27 in San Angelo, Texas. Her play “Routine” is a finalist for the John Cauble Short Play Award. Another play by Turnage, “Jigsaw Cactus,” is a finalist in the 10-Minute Play category.

Houstonians can experience readings of Turnage’s “Routine” and Jigsaw Cactus” plus Zubel’s “Gel Us” during a benefit performance at 7 p.m., Jan. 24 in UH’s Wortham Theatre (Entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard). Tickets begin at a suggested donation of $5, and all proceeds will benefit the playwrights’ travel fees to their respective festivals. Cash and checks will be accepted at the door.

Through the University’s Playwriting and Dramaturgy program, students work closely with faculty, including professors Rob Shimko and Keith Byron Kirk, as well as UH Distinguished Professor of Playwriting Theresa Rebeck. The program offers students the opportunity to see their works produced during the annual 10-Minute Play Festival (which also welcomes submissions from non-students). Each year, one student’s full-length play is selected to be included in the School of Theatre’s performance season. To learn more about UH’s BFA in Playwriting & Dramaturgy, visit the program’s website.

The UH School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelor’s and master's degrees in theatre and teacher certifications in dance and theatre. Its graduate program consists of a Master of Arts in theatre and Master of Fine Arts in theatre with specializations in acting, technical production and design.  Alumni include actors Jim Parsons, Dennis Quaid, Brett Cullen, Robert Wuhl and Dylan Paul. Faculty includes Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow, Tony-nominated designer Kevin Rigdon and award-winning playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck. Among the greats who have taught at the school are Sidney Berger, Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Mark Medoff, Sir Peter Hall, Jose Quintero, Patsy Swayze and Cecil Pickett. In 2012 and 2013, the school was named “Best College Theater” in the Houston Press Theater Awards. For details on UH's School of Theatre & Dance, visit www.theatredance.uh.edu.