Cornell University & University Of Notre Dame Reveals 'Hope On Stage' Playwriting Winners

THE HOPE AND OPTIMISM INITIATIVE is thrilled to announce the winners of its "Hope On Stage" playwriting competition. THE HOPE AND OPTIMISM INITIATIVE is a $4.8 million, three-year project at the University of Notre Dame and Cornell University.

It is funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The initiative aims to explore the theoretical, empirical, and practical dimensions of hope, optimism, despair, pessimism, and related states. It is funding research by social scientists (psychologists, sociologists, cognitive scientists) as well as philosophers and scholars of religion. The initiative involves two public components; "Hope on Stage" is an international $16,000 playwriting competition that will result in premieres of the winning plays at professional theaters. "Hope on Screen" offers $10,000 in prizes for the best short You-tube style film (1-3 minutes) that creatively depict the role of hope in human life. I Carry Your Heart by Georgette Kelly won First in "Hope on Stage" and will be produced next Spring at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York (April 27 - 30, 2017), directed by Jeremy Webb, and at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles (May 18 - 20, 2017), directed by Jessica Hanna. Additionally, the three runners-up will receive staged readings and honoraria as well. Staged Readings for the 2nd, 3rdand 4th prize winners (Steve Moulds, David Myers and Matthew Wells respectively) will be performed at the Bootleg Theater's first ever "Hope on Stage" Festival. Details on performance dates/times for the "Hope on Stage" Festival of production, readings and speakers will be forthcoming.

Andrew Chignell, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Cornell University comments, "Those of us working on the Hope and Optimism Initiative are really excited about the "Hope on Stage" aspect of the project. We've been funding work by social scientists and philosophers that examines the nature, role, and importance of states like hope and despair in our lives. But we wanted to have a more "public" component to the grant as well -- and this, together with our "Hope on Screen" contest -- is it. The response to our call for submissions was incredible: we had almost 800 submissions and had to double the size of our expert committee just to read through all of them! There were many excellent pieces, but in the end we selected four really exceptional plays as our prize winners. We're excited to work with Georgette Kelly and our two directors (Jeremy Webb and Jessica Hanna) as we work toward staging the world premiere of I Carry Your Heart next spring."

Samuel Newlands, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame says, "Hope is such a central part of our lives, and so I was very eager to see the creative ways that hope was portrayed on stage. I was amazed by how much excitement the competition generated in the playwriting community. Selecting the winners was an extremely difficult task. The winning plays do an amazing job of exploring hope in creative and accessible ways. A playwriting competition was definitely a novel way for a research project like this to engage a broader audience, and with these winners, I think we will succeed in raising awareness of the project and encouraging people to reflect further on the nature and role of hope in our lives."

ABOUT THE "HOPE ON STAGE" PLAYWRITING WINNERS

GEORGETTE KELLY (1ST Place - I Carry Your Heart - $10,000) is a playwright with one foot in New York and the other in Chicago. Her play Ballast was featured on The Kilroys List 2015 and was chosen as a finalist in the 2015 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition. Georgette's other plays include I Carry Your Heart, Faith in a Fallen World, In the Belly of the Whale, how to hero or the subway play, and an adaptation of Jeanette Winterson's Lighthousekeeping. Her work has been developed by The Kennedy Center, The National New Play Network, The DC Source Festival, The Alliance Theatre, terraNOVA Collective, Taffety Punk, Diversionary Theatre, Capital Stage, TOSOS, Prologue Theatre, New Leaf Theatre, and Chicago's DCASE. She is a 2016 Lambda Literary Fellow and a member of 2014-2015 TerraNOVA Groundbreakers Playwrights Group, The Dramatists Guild of America, and Writers WorkSpace. Georgette holds a B.A. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Hunter College, where she studied with Tina Howe, Arthur Kopit, and Mark Bly.

Kelly comments, "I am thrilled to receive this prize from the 'Hope and Optimism Project'. The foundation's financial support is extraordinarily meaningful to me at this moment in my career--it will allow me new flexibility to travel, research, and pursue playwriting opportunities in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. I'm also very grateful for the chance to bring my play, I Carry Your Heart, to productions on both coasts. Overall, I'm deeply moved by both the mission of this contest and by its generous gifts to my career. Thank you so much!"

STEVE MOULDS (2nd Place - The Body - $3,000) has been a Jerome Fellow at The Playwrights' Center, a National New Play Network Playwright-in-Residence at Curious Theatre Company, a Fred Coe Playwright in Residence at Vanderbilt University, and an Al Smith Fellow through the Kentucky Arts Council. On an ongoing basis, he is a Playwright in Residence at Theatre [502] in Louisville, Kentucky. His plays include The Body, Conflict House, or Mindf**k City,Sergio's Museum, Emergency Prom, the Humana Festival anthology Oh, Gastronomy!, The Wedding Guest, commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville, an adaptation of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Authorcommissioned by The Hypocrites, and an adaptation of Kafka's Metamorphosis commissioned by Walden Theatre. He has also co-written three plays with his wife, Diana Grisanti: The Stranger and Ludlow Quinn, a serialized epic commissioned by Theatre [502]; The Two Lobbyists of Verona, commissioned by Theatre [502] and Kentucky Shakespeare; and The Baker Goes to War, commissioned by Walden Theatre. His plays have been developed by The Playwrights' Center, The Inkwell, Performance Network Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, and the Lark. Two of his full-lengths (Emergency Prom and Six Characters) are published by Playscripts, and shorter work has been published in collections by Samuel French and Smith and Kraus. M.F.A., Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

DAVID MYERS (3rd Place - How To Conquer America: A Mostly True History of Yogurt - $2,000) is a playwright based in Los Angeles. His work has been developed at Berkeley Rep, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Vic, The Royal Court and more. His How to Conquer America was first written through Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor program and recently a finalist for the Humanitas Prize at CTG. His From Under the Tree was read in Pasadena Playhouse's Hothouse Series. Other works include: Muzungu (Mixed Phoenix, NYC), Body Parts (Theater157, San Diego) and 1800 Acres (Riverside Studios, London). He's had short play commissions from La Jolla Playhouse, Chalk Rep, Moving Arts and Cornerstone, and he completed a year-long residency at South Coast Rep. He's written and sold two screenplays and two original television pilots. Originally from Houston, David has a BA from Brown and an MFA from UCSD. He teaches at UCSD and lives in LA with his wife and son.

MATTHEW WELLS (4th Place - Beautiful Day - $1,000) is a New York-based playwright and poet whose productions include God's Country, performed at Charlotte Rep's New Playwrights Festival and produced Off-Off Broadway at Theatre Club Funambules, The Mildred Piece, (InCoAct, NYC), Don Juan in Hell's Kitchen (Ariel Theatre Co, NYC; Tapestry Theatre Co, VA), The Auschwitz Circus (A Theatre Co, NYC), Schrödinger's Girlfriend (EST Sloan Grant; Magic Theatre, San Francisco; Act II Playhouse, Ambler PA), Oscar and Adonis (2000 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival One-Act Play Award), and Scarlet Woman (2011 Frigid Festival, NYC; Edmonton Fringe; Winnipeg Fringe; Gremlin Theatre, St. Paul). His play about 9/11, Beautiful Day, was a finalist at both the 2013 National Playwrights Conference and the 2013 Lark Playwrights Week, and was given a staged reading at Actors Theatre of Charlotte's 2016 nuVoices Festival.

His what-if comedy about Hamlet in his fifties, Countrie Matters, was part of the PlayLab series at the 2015 Great Plains Theatre Conference; his ten-minute play Romeo and Rosaline was read at the Red Bull Theater Short Play Festival in July 2015; his ten-minute play Elvis at Auschwitz was done by Nylon Fusion in August 2015 as part of their This Round's On You series. Published works include the short-story version of "The Auschwitz Circus," which was the cover story of the June 1996 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy& Science Fiction; and a book of poetry, Out Of Sequence.



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