Student Success

Writers rewarded with 2015 Plays and Prose prizes

Thanks to a generous University of Lethbridge alumnus, undergraduate students have the opportunity to flex their creative-writing muscles, win cash, earn recognition, and have their work presented in a public reading on Thursday, Mar. 26 at 7 p.m. in the David Spinks Theatre.

The 2015 winners, including top row from left to right are Garrett Bishoff, Brayden Haidenger and AJ Baragar. Bottom row from left to right are Emma Dering, Blair Yoxall and Rodrigo Henriquez.

Alumnus Terry Whitehead (BA '94), whose aim is to encourage excellence and help develop student writing skills, generously donates $5,000 in prizes each year to the Striking Prose and Play Right Prize competitions. First place winners in both competitions receive a $1,500 prize, second prize is $750 and third is $250, making these some of the most lucrative awards in the country for undergraduate student writing competitions. The competitions are open to all U of L undergraduate students and this year winners came from four different areas – History, English, New Media and Dramatic Arts.

Play Right Prize Winners

History major, Garrett Bishoff earned first place in the Play Right Prize for his play Detritus.

Of all entries to this competition, this script demonstrated the strongest potential for growth and development. The playwright has playfully interwoven two narratives into a single exploration of fraternal love and loss,” says juror Jamie Dunsdon, Co-Artistic Director of Calgary’s Verb Theatre on behalf of fellow jury members Grant Linneberg, a Calgary based actor, and Dr. Kiki Benzon, U of L English professor.

Lost Dog by Brayden Haidenger, a dramatic arts major, took second place.

Lost Dog is an avalanche of suburban family drama neatly framed within the search for a lost pet,” says Benzon. “It probes the limits of love in a family struggling to reconcile shared values with individual desires. We were impressed by the juxtaposition of the sitcom comedy setting with the dark subject matter.”

Third place in the Play Right Prize went to Co-Workers by AJ Baragar, also a dramatic arts major. The jury was thrilled to see a comedy in this year's mix of plays. They congratulated the playwright for creating a zany comedy with a surprise ending that was worth the wait. This play has already made it to the stage. In March 2014 it took three awards at the Chinook Regional One Act Festival in Lethbridge (Best Play, Best Original Script, and Best Male Actor) and at the Alberta Provincial One Act Festival last May it won Best Original Script. Co-Workers appears at Club Didi (Lethbridge) March 18-21 and Birds and Stone (Calgary) May 27-30.

Striking Prose Winners

Striking Prose, the short story writing competition, was adjudicated by three faculty members from the U of L Department of English, Dr. Kiki Benzon, Dr. Jay Gamble, and Dr. Wendy Faith.

Fourth-year English major, Emma Dering took first place with An Amiable Correspondence, which the jurors called a ‘Single White Female,’ epistolary for a late-Victorian age.

“This story sets the spine a tingle with one lonely student’s brewing obsession with her governess,” says Gamble. "It ultimately reveals the psychological instability of the young protagonist.”

Second place went to Blair Yoxall, also an English major, for Raymond’s Comet, which offers a witty and funny merging of the superhero and the literary in a hyper-real local setting.

“Mayor Nenshi even makes a cameo appearance,” says Gamble.

Third prize for the Striking Prose competition was won by Topnew media major Rodrigo Henriquez for Icarus, a story of the earth’s impending destruction told from multiple perspectives in a sinister science fiction mode.