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RTP Announces Winner Of Inaugural So.QUEER Playwrights' Festival 

Kari Barclay's “Stonewallin'” Begins year-long developmental progress.

RTP Announces Winner Of Inaugural So.QUEER Playwrights' Festival 

Richmond Triangle Players is pleased to announce the winner in its inaugural So.Queer Playwriting Festival -- Stonewallin' by Kari Barclay, a queer coming-of-age story in the American South full of witchcraft, war re-enactors, and ghosts.

"I'm thrilled to be selected as winner of the So.Queer Festival," said Barclay. "Not every theater would take on a play that fearlessly explores racial politics, queer and trans identities, and the many layers of life in the South, and I'm grateful to Richmond Triangle Players for being a leader in our field. The opportunity to develop this play in Richmond in dialogue with community members is a tremendous gift."

RTP congratulates all the artists who participated in the inaugural Festival -- from the playwrights across the country who sent in over 90 works, to the actors and directors who brought the finalists to life in online presentations, to those who participated in the adjudication process, and those who participated in various surveys.

"The top four finalists presented such sophisticated and unique submissions," said RTP artistic director Lucian Restivo. "We were extremely impressed with each of our finalists' creative abilities as we collaborated on surrounding them with artists that would uplift their work."

The winner was chosen using weighted survey results from patrons that viewed all four online submissions, and by the Submission Review Team established by RTP. Triangle Players also reached out to those watching just one presentation to gather feedback on the plays they viewed.

Kari Barclay (he/him or they/them) is a queer playwright who tells big stories of intimacy and freedom. He is the author of six plays, including Can I Hold You, one of the first comedies in the U.S. to explore asexual identities. When he's not in the rehearsal room, Kari writes about art and sexuality as a PhD candidate in Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University. Kari grew up in Lexington, VA and Bethesda, MD and currently resides in Berkeley, CA.

The Submission Review Team agreed that Barclay wrote a compelling piece that represented the mission of the So.Queer Playwriting Festival to its core. Having grown up in southern Virginia, Barclay's Stonewallin' is a true southern story that could happen in RTP's own backyard of Richmond, VA.

His dialogue drew viewers and Team members into the unique story and were left captivated by the twists that the non-binary-centric plot took. The Team was impressed with Barclay's ability to shatter and redefine stereotypes throughout the story. One viewer noted, "The unabashed queerness gave the playwright room to explore desire, identity, legacy, and Southern history in ways I've not seen in a long time."

"Each final submission was so intuitive, innovative, and individual," Restivo continued. "Each playwright had such a unique perspective on their piece that the decision making process took time to ensure that all pillars of organization were represented."

Three years ago, with the endowment of the John Knapp and Tim Gillham Fund for New Works, Richmond Triangle Players embarked on a unique journey that took months of planning, involving every aspect of the organization. Spearheaded by Restivo and committee of RTP Board members and area artistic collaborators, RTP's So.Queer Playwriting Festival became one of the few initiatives of its kind in the country, with a process based on affirmations, dignity, and loving but direct truth-telling.

The Festival aspired to find stories rooted in our region, and those that reflected the diversity within our queer community. And with its very first effort, RTP found just that.

Over the course of the next year, RTP will collaborate with Barclay to develop Stonewallin' further through a series of private workshop readings and public staged readings, as well as consultations with local artists, mentorship from theatre experts, and the provision of other creative supports. The goal is to give the play a full mainstage production in a future RTP season, possibly as early as 2022.

Proving how close the decision-making process was, the Submission Review Team also has decided to award Alice Hakvaag and her play Acute Exposure an Honorable Mention, with a two-month development process culminating in a public staged reading.

Hakvaag's play concept moved Team members through her ability to create subtle nuances throughout the layers of her piece. Her poetic language entranced viewers while being grounded in a strong sense of authenticity.

"I am so excited and honored to have been part of this inaugural festival, and that Richmond Triangle Players has given me this chance to further my work!" Hakvaag exclaimed. "I'm excited to share this story of two confused, excited girls with the queer community of Richmond and beyond."

Alice Hakvaag (she/her) is a queer playwright based in Philadelphia, PA. She holds a BA in Theater from Temple University, was a recipient of the Kunal Nayyar Scholarship Award in 2018, and is a proud Ring of Keys member. Her work has been seen at Elephant Room Productions, Maladjusted Theatre Company, Mad Cow Theatre, Wings of Paper Theatre Company, 24 Hour Plays, as well as the End of Play initiative through Dramatists Guild.

The So.Queer Playwriting Festival is a competitive, biennial festival of LGBTQ+ works which leads to the selection of one work by a playwright -- a work that RTP will develop further in close collaboration with the chosen playwright, through a series of salon readings, staged readings, and minimalized productions, as well as consultations with local artists, mentorship from theatre experts, and the provision of other creative supports.

"The So.Queer Playwriting Festival brings RTP to the forefront in the region to inspire and develop of new LGBTQ+ musical and non-musical works," says RTP artistic director Lucian Restivo, "using a unique process of radical collaboration and supportive engagement with playwrights, actors, and audiences."

The idea for the Festival sprung from an endowed fund created by former RTP artistic director John Knapp and his husband Tom Gillham, dedicated to the creation and development of new musical and non-musical work. RTP convened a committee that spent more than a year researching other competitions and festivals across the country, and defining how RTP's could distinguish itself.

The inaugural Festival was supported by the Knapp/Gilham fund, along with special gifts from Barbara McCarthy, and David Peake. RTP's 2020-21 Season has been made possible in part by generous contributions from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Roy Cockrum Foundation, CultureWorks Grant Program, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Resilience Fund, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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