THE JULIE HARRIS PLAYWRIGHT AWARD
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PICASSO IN PARIS by Rich Rubin begins with the place, the Montmartre district of Paris; the time, 1906. Young Pablo Picasso is introduced to Henri Matisse by Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo. Picasso and Matisse are both fiercely competitive, and they soon become rivals for leadership in the cut-throat world of modern art. Meanwhile, on the home-front, Picasso and his mistress Fernande adopt Raymonde, a thirteen-year-old girl, from a local orphanage. As Picasso rushes to complete a groundbreaking work of art, his relationship with Fernande and Raymonde takes an unexpected turn.
Rich Rubin of Portland, Oregon has plays produced throughout the U.S., as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. Full-length works include Swimming Upstream (winner, Todd McNerney Playwright Award; finalist, Reva Shiner Comedy Award); Caesar's Blood (finalist, Oregon Book Award; finalist, Ashland New Play Festival); Shakespeare's Skull (winner, Portland Civic Theatre Guild New Play Award); Left Hook (finalist, Woodward-Newman Drama Award); Assisted Living (winner, Neil Simon Festival New Play Contest); Marilyn/MISFITS/Miller (finalist, Julie Harris Playwright Award); and Cottonwood in the Flood (winner, Fratti-Newman Political Play Award). Member: Dramatists Guild, the New Play Exchange, and Portland's Nameless Playwrights and LineStorm Playwrights. www.richrubinplaywright.com
Necessity Hath No Law by Shirley Wilson tells the story of a Quaker farmer and his wife, a midwife and healer, who were leading station keepers on the Underground Railroad, having built their house with a trick wall leading to a passageway that can harbor up to seven slaves. A notorious stranger named John Brown comes in from a major snow storm, and stays ten days. John Brown knows the area to be strategically well-suited for his future plans to end slavery and tries to persuade his host, a pacifist, to help. The debates between the militant and the pacifist become quite lively during the ten days in the busy household, and the play ends by leaving the audience to decide who is right.
Shirley Wilson of Newport News, Virginia is a writer of plays, screenplays, and short stories. Her screenplay, “Nobody Wants to be Last,” won a finalist award in the 2016 Richmond International Film Festival. Another screenplay, “The Land,” won Best Feature Screenplay in the 2009 Moondance International Film Festival. A radio drama, “Something to Count On” was aired on 111 PBS radio stations around the country. She has had plays produced in Virginia and Canada. One play, “Woman of Property,” won the GAIA award in the 2006 Moondance Film Festival. Her short stories have been published as a collection, and one story published in Redbook brought a two-year film option. She has received two fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. In 1993, she won the Governor’s Screenwriting Competition, presented at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville.
In TEARDOWN by Jim Shankman, Ben and Jenny are an elderly couple who are trying desperately to keep a grip on things, little things like the upkeep of the house, big things like the basic facts of their life together. When Ben discovers they are broke, he makes a deal with a strange and talkative contractor to sell their house as a teardown. But Ben and Jenny find they can’t bring themselves to leave, and so the house is torn down around them while they are still in it. As the house comes down, pieces of their forgotten past come back to them in unexpected ways, including old secrets, lost loves and the grown children they haven’t seen in years. The story of their life together is slowly, with pain and joy, revealed to them. In the end even the yard is gone and there’s nothing left except the subfloor and the foundation floating in the void. Ben and Jenny stand on the edge of their world
Jim Shankman of New York is an actor and the author of twenty-five plays. Six of his plays have been produced in New York: The Screenwriter Dies Of His Own Free Will won the Award for Outstanding Excellence in Playwriting at the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival. It is currently available as a podcast from the Ashland New Play Festival at Play4Keeps.org. He performed his solo piece Kiss Your Brutal Hands at the United Solo Festival on Theatre Row where he won the festival’s Best Actor Award. His plays have been developed in New York at The New Group, Abingdon Theatre, Emerging Artists, The Jewish Plays Project, T. Schreiber Studio, the Michael Howard Studio, New Jersey Rep and Penguin Rep.
PLAYS COMPETITION FOR YOUTH THEATRE
MICHAEL J. LIBOW AWARDS
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RADIOACTIVE by Barbara Heimburger: To earn service points for high school graduation, nine seniors at Paradise Valley Christian School agree to record biblical vignettes for middle school religion classes. As the old-time radio project proceeds, the seniors grapple with problems ranging from hacking the school’s computer to altering grades to dealing with a parent’s cancer to facing an unwanted pregnancy. The magnitude of these issues reveals their doubts about God. When the students realize that not all questions have answers, they make some progress with their beliefs—well, at least most of them do. And they also manage to record three amusing biblical scripts for the middle school.
Barbara Heimburger of Rancho Mirage, CA taught secondary-school English for thirty-three years; in 1991, she was a Walt Disney Company American Teacher Award Honoree in her field. In 2009, Contemporary Drama Service published Those Myth-behavin’ Greeks, five readers’ theater scripts. Lend Me Your Ears, her play based on Julius Caesar, won first prize in the 2011 Beverly Hills Theatre Guild’s Annual Play Competition for Youth Theater; in 2013, she and her writing partner placed second in the BHTG Annual Play Competition for Youth Theater with their modern take on Wuthering Heights. Additionally, she and her writing partner have co-authored three full-length librettos and several children’s plays. Ms. Heimburger earned her undergraduate degree from Harris Teachers College and two graduate degrees from Webster University.
THE ROYAL TOYS by Jessica S. Puller is an original fairy tale about being yourself, even when you think that isn't good enough. It tells the story of Meg, a foreign princess, who comes to marry a prince and who believes that her wide-eyed sense of wonder and lack of dancing skill means that she'll never be a good bride for him. The bell-jar ballerina in her music box, Ana, offers to switch places with Meg each night, during a three-day festival, in order to impress Prince Henri as a dancer. But during the day, Meg and Henri fall in love. On the third night, Ana refuses to switch back, and Meg must rely on her other toy friends, including a teddy bear, a train, and a jack-in-the-box, to undo the spell and save Henri from Ana's clutches.
J. S. Puller from Chicago is a playwright, author and a two-time winner of the Marilyn Hall Play Competition for Youth Theatre. She has a master's degree in elementary education and a bachelor's degree in theatre from Northwestern University. She is an award-winning member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and is actively involved in researching the social-emotional benefits of arts education with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. When not writing, she can usually be found in the theatre. Her first novel, CAPTAIN SUPERLATIVE, was published by Disney Hyperion. Her play, WOMEN WHO WEAVE, was published by Playscripts, Inc.