The University of Lethbridge is proud to announce the recipients of the 2021 Play Right Prize competition. Dramatic Arts student Jessica Syratt will receive $1500 and have the honour of hearing her winning play The Evening Comes at a virtual play reading on Thursday, April 8 at 6pm.

According to the jury, The Evening Comes is a poetic, spiritually rich, three-woman rumination on the common experience of grief and loss through different ages and time periods. Beautifully structured, layered with song and ritual, and authentically moving, the play exhibits a mature understanding of the power of language to express, share, and hopefully to heal, profound sorrow. The play will receive dramaturgical support from drama faculty member Justin Blum.

“Receiving this award is a huge honour,” says Syratt. “Playwrighting is something I very much enjoy, and to have the chance to share my work, and for it to have had an impact – it is a huge encouragement to keep growing and learning as an artist.”

Second prize, receiving $750, is Daylin Chase. Neosapien tells the story of two scientists trapped in a world of their own making. This well-crafted play imagines a world where the need to solve food insecurity pushes two scientists to skew their morality and ethics. Well-crafted characters and rich dialogue left the jury with a lot to chew on after reading.

"As someone who often spends hours daydreaming about being a writer and not doing any writing, I would like to personally thank the Play Right Prize for providing me the motivation to finish a one act play as well as the opportunity to submit it for such an honouring award,” says Chase. She encourages others to, “Just keep on writing, and eventually you’ll find some magic!"

Avery Olson receives third place and $250 for her play Two Women on A Bench in the Middle of Winter which tells a dramatic story that intelligently blends the recognizable reality of young women living in contemporary culture with the timeless quality of myth. Vic and Bella are friends, intent on escaping the traumas of their everyday lives. Brought to a park bench by a mysterious figure, when things don’t go as expected they discover that it doesn’t take much to go from thinking about ending it all to fighting for their lives.

“It's a bit ironic for a writing prize, but I truly don't have the words to express what an honour it is to have placed in this competition - especially alongside some incredibly talented friends,” shares Olson. “I've been writing for as long as I can remember, and I'll take this as a sign I'm doing something right.”

Since 2008 Terry Whitehead has been inspiring future playwrights through the Play Right Prize, awarding $2,500 annually to student playwrights and highlighting the winning entries at a public play reading. The 2020 public reading was scheduled in the weeks after the COVID-19 shutdown, so to honour last year’s winning playwright Quinn Larder, both the 2020 and 2021 winning plays will be read at the virtual reading. The event is open to the public and free to attend with no registration required, Thursday, April 8, 6pm: https://uleth.zoom.us/j/94499868694

The 2021 Play Right Prize jury was made up of Drama faculty members Dr. Shelley Scott and Dr. Justin Blum, and Trevor Rueger from Alberta Playwright’s Network who will provide dramaturgical support to the 2nd and 3rd prize plays.


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