DAVENPORT — The QC Theatre Workshop attracted twice the number of applicants for its 2019 Susan Glaspell Playwriting Festival as it did last year, and winners will have their plays performed Feb. 1 and 2 at 1730 Wilkes Ave.
The third annual festival is named after playwright Susan Glaspell (1876-1948), who was born and raised in Davenport and won a Pulitzer Prize for "Alison's House" in 1930. She was one of the founding members of the Provincetown Players, the theater company that discovered American playwright Eugene O'Neill.
Glaspell and her theater company are considered by many historians to be instrumental in the development of modern American theater.
The QCTW “believes that it's important to promote Susan's legacy by developing and producing the same kinds of theater that she was so passionate about,” QCTW artistic director Aaron Randolph III said Tuesday. “She believed in the importance of doing theater not for commercial gain, but as a way to enrich the local community by telling stories that address social justice and current events.
“She was also known for writing interesting and challenging female characters, which is one of the requirements of the works we select for the festival,” he said. “We named the festival in her honor to renew local interest in her life story and to raise awareness about this incredibly influential Davenport luminary.”
The QCTW got about 80 applicants in its national and local categories, with most from national playwrights, Randolph said, noting that for the first time, the group chose national finalists to be performed in staged readings as well.
The winners are:
National award winner: “The Stand” by Caity-Shea Violette. A $500 prize is included in this category.
National award finalists: “Life Still Is” by Tony Pasqualini and “Women of Williams County” by Karly Thomas.
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Local adult winner (18 and older): “The Earth is Indeed Flat” by Willow Schuchmann, a St. Ambrose University student.
Local youth winner (younger than 18): “Royalty” by Jazzelle Aliana, Davenport, a Creative Arts Academy student.
Violette is an award-winning playwright who makes stories about invisible disabilities, gender-based violence and complex trauma accessible to wider audiences, according to her website, caitysheaviolette.com. Her plays include “Target Behavior,” which earned the Kennedy Center’s National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Excellence Award.
Randolph said he hoped to produce one of her full-length plays at QCTW.
“You could really tell by the quality of her writing,” he said. “She's a young, emerging playwright, very exciting.”
Her win fits the mission of the Glaspell Playwriting Festival — “to promote the work of emerging artists, and also to help our theater establish connections locally and nationally, and bring unique opportunities to our audience to see brand-new playwrights before they hit it big,” Randolph said.
The festival will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2, and admission is the QCTW's usual “pay what you think it's worth.” All five plays will be performed each evening, for a total running time of about 90 minutes.
For more information, visit qctheatreworkshop.org/sgpf.