Student Success

Student excellence celebrated through 2020 Play Right Prize awards

The future of play writing in Canada continues to flourish as three new budding playwrights are announced as the 2020 uLethbridge Play Right Prize recipients.

Play Right prize winners from left to right include Quinn Larder, Paul Vanhoutteghem and Jake Rose.

Since 2007, alumnus Terry Whitehead (BA ’94) has supported University of Lethbridge students with an interest in playwriting through the Play Right Prize awards, a total of $2,500 in scholarships and a public reading of the winning play. This year’s first prize author, and winner of $1,500, is second-year drama student Quinn Larder for his play The Murder. The play creates a refreshingly off-kilter theatrical world that cleverly asks us to question who and what a person is, and how and why we value things. The jury was particularly impressed by the creative use of language and how the characters, while skewed in intriguing ways, still have satisfying dramatic journeys.

Second place, and $750, goes to Paul Vanhoutteghem for his play Askopos. Channeling the finely wrought tedium of Theatre of the Absurd, this clever play stages the eternal punishments of the classical Greek Underworld. The jury appreciated its intellectual sophistication.

Third place, and $250, will be awarded to Jake Rose for his play Vargamor in which three characters at the edge of their known world struggle with the sins of their past, finally coming face to face with them. The play is rich with imagery and stark dialogue, leaving the reader to sift through the subtext to discover who these people are. The jury commented that it was well-crafted and imaginative, a story of hope that is both dark and light. This makes Rose a two-time Play Right Prize recipient, having placed third in 2018 for his play Glorious Clockwork.

Coordinated by drama faculty member Mia van Leeuwen, this year’s jury was made up of Justin Blum (drama), Heather Ladd (English) and Trevor Rueger, executive director of the Alberta Playwright’s Network.

"This is my first year co-ordinating the Play Right Prize submissions and I was thrilled to see how many students got involved,” exclaims van Leeuwen. “This is a great opportunity to spark and support emerging talent; the drama department is thankful to Terry Whitehead and his continued support."

Over the past 13 years, 35 uLethbridge students have received financial support through the Play Right Prize, with many recipients going on to successful careers in playwriting and theatre production. James Odin Wade (BFA Multidisciplinary ’11), a two-time Play Right Prize recipient in 2010 and 2011 has gone on to win awards in Canada and the U.S. His play In Tongues premieres on the University Theatre stage Mar. 17-21.

Audiences will have the first chance to hear Larder’s winning play The Murder at the Play Right Prize Gala & Cabaret on Thursday, Mar. 26 at 5 p.m. in the David Spinks Theatre. The event is free to attend, open to the public, and will include the play reading as well as cabaret-style performances by graduating students and faculty.