And the winner is….
The results are in from the 7th Annual New Play Competition: The Best of Political Theater, sponsored by TeCo Theatrical Productions (http://www.tecotheater.org) at the Bishop Arts Theater Center in Oak Cliff. By popular acclaim, Paula J. Sanders, local author, teacher, performer and UT Arlington graduate won for her entry The Valiant Never Taste of Death But Once, in a tough field of six diverse, competitive one act plays. The play puts a chillingly human face on the killer disease cancer. “Winning came as a total shock,” says Ms. Sanders, a four time previous competitor. “The play is very personal. During 2008 I lost five wonderful people in my life all from very different circumstances. However, the most devastating was the illness of my best friend’s mother, to whom I dedicated the play. She fought a hard battle with cancer and lost it in the spring.” Ms. Sanders feels the strong performances of Brandon Christle and JuNene K. brought her one act vividly to life. “JuNene K. symbolized the strength that we have all seen in our loved ones whether they are fighting cancer, AIDS or drug addiction.” What does she plan to do with her winnings — cash and two roundtrip airplane tickets? She laughs, “More than likely it will involve a creative endeavor or maybe a trip to Disney World with my four year old son. I do plan to put the final touches on that romance novel that I am self publishing….” Stay tuned in for Sanders’ continued success.
There’s more winning news. Each year, the playwright who receives the most points from TeCo’s Reading Committee wins the Literary Prize Award. This year’s prize with a round-trip airfare ticket goes to award-winning playwright, Richland College professor and Blacken Blues Theater founder Willie Holmes. His one act Change is part of a full play comprised of three one acts called Love Changes. Fast-paced and sophisticated, funny yet thought provoking, Change explores the challenges faced by Americans dealing with racial bias and stereotypes in developing inter-racial romantic connections. Holmes says he is honored to be recognized a winner in a political play writing contest as his favorite playwrights are August Wilson and Arthur Miller. “They blend social commentary, thoughtful humor, and provocative story telling. I try to fulfill these goals with each play that I develop.” He may head to New York, the Caribbean Islands, or Bermuda with his winning ticket.
TeCo Theatrical Productions founder and artistic director Teresa Wash glows with pride as she talks about the diversity of this year’s event. “I was particularly excited to receive an entry about immigration issues from an artist right here in District 1 (Phillip Morales) where 90% of the residents are Latino. And Paula Sanders is only the second woman to win the New Play Competition in the history of the event – I believe in encouraging women writers, there are so few of us.” Having a strong artistic success in her sparkling new performance space mattered a great deal, too. “I really wanted to raise the bar on the quality of the performances. This year, we broke box office records with over 600 people in attendance. This community has embraced us in a way I never imagined.” Next year’s competition will build on the diverse, multicultural success of this year’s thanks to Wash’s dedication and artistic vision.
What’s next for TeCo Theatrical Productions? Opening April 16, the company presents August Wilson’s King Hedley II, a “haunting and challenging tragedy of Shakespearean proportion”. It will feature TeCo’s T-an-T (teenagers and theater) in the culminating project of a four month long apprenticeship program.
Expect a sell-out.