Now celebrating its 10th anniversary season, the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition continues to spotlight the best emerging playwrights with a full production for the competition winner and staged readings for four competition finalists.  IN LOVE AND WARCRAFT, the 10th competition winner, will premiere on the Hertz Stage January 31 – February 23, 2014.  Opening night is February 5, 2014.  IN LOVE AND WARCRAFT is written by Madhuri Shekar, a recent graduate of the MFA program at the University of South California, and will be directed by Laura Kepley, Artistic Director of the Cleveland Play House.


IN LOVE AND WARCRAFT tells the story of Evie, a master of relationships. Other people’s relationships. That’s why she has a waiting list of classmate clients willing to pay her top dollar to fix their relationships. How? She uses strategy, finds people’s weaknesses, and then attacks with weaponized words using just the right amount of guilt, longing, and/or lust – whatever a relationship may need.  All the skills and tactics she picked up on the way to becoming one of the best World of Warcraft players in the world.  As for Evie’s relationships? IRL (that is, In Real Life)? Well, all the action she’s interested in is happening on the battlefields of WoW. When it comes to sex, Evie is a complete N00b and she’s just fine with that. Until she meets Raul.  He may just prove to be the most devious “boss” she has ever faced.


The cast of IN LOVE AND WARCRAFT includes Lily Balsen as Evie and Evan Cleaver as Raul, as well as Alexandra Ficken, Patrick Halley, Bobby Labartino, and Diany Rodriguez.


The Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition solicits plays from the leading MFA graduate programs in the United States and then conducts a rigorous selection process to find four finalists and one winning play.  The winner receives a full production as part of the Alliance Theatre regular season.  The winner and four finalists also receive development opportunities for their works including staged readings with industry professionals in New York and Atlanta.  A one-of-a-kind opportunity for emerging playwrights, the Competition transitions student playwrights to the world of professional theatre.


Aside from Alliance Artistic Director Susan V. Booth and Director of New Projects Celise Kalke, the selecting judges included Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, Good People), Playwright Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy), and Shelby Jiggetts-Tivony, dramaturg and director of theatrical development for the Creative Entertainment division of Walt Disney Imagineering.


The four 2014 finalists will be heard in free, staged readings February 4 & 6, 2014.  The finalists are:

  • COLOSSAL – by Andrew Hinderaker, University of Texas, Austin

o   Featuring a large ensemble, full contact choreography, and a drumline, the play centers on a University of Texas football player, struggling to move forward in the wake of a catastrophic spinal injury. A play about love, ability, and extraordinary feats of strength, COLOSSAL is both a celebration and critical examination of our nation’s most popular form of theater.

·         SCISSORING – by Christina Quintana, Columbia University

    • Abigail Bauer, a New Orleans native and resident, must confront the clash between the life she has created with her long term girlfriend and her career as a devoted teacher in a repressive Catholic school. Through her struggle, Abigail receives pressure from the school’s shape-shifting, personified P.A. System and guidance from the figures of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Roosevelt’s devoted lifelong friend and once lover, Lorena Hickok.
  • IN THE SHADOW OF HIS LANGUAGE – by Jacob Juntunen, Ohio University

o   Didi O’Connor must escape South Boston and seizes her chance when she gets “a free ride” to a prestigious college in Upstate New York.  But when her advisor forces Didi to change her name, accent, clothes, even her religion, will success destroy her more than her dead-end home-life ever would?  The play explores the costs of class-jumping and the imperialism we call “education.”

  • MAGIC MAN – by Lindsey Ferrentino, Hunter College
    • As a gang war erupts in the south side of Chicago, a young boy conjures a magician con-artist to help him survive.  Can the boy find his way back to reality or must he stay in the world of his own creation?


The five plays selected each year during the Alliance National Graduate Playwriting Competition represent one manifestation of the Alliance’s mission of shared theatre for diverse people with their rigorous multigenerational, multicultural, and omni-political ambitions.  Emerging writers are offered the ultimate developmental tools and networking opportunities with industry professionals.  At the same time, Atlanta audiences are introduced to the country’s brightest emerging playwrights thereby cultivating an informed audience for new work.  Past winners have become some of today’s most exciting playwrights and include Tarell Alvin McCraney, Kenneth Lin, and Meg Miroshnik.


In addition to the world premiere of IN LOVE AND WARCRAFT and staged readings by the four finalists, the 2013/14 Hertz Stage season will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition with three new plays written by past competition winners, as well as a monthly series of free readings by past finalists and winners.


“It’s amazing that for the past ten years the Alliance has dedicated a show each season to playwrights right out of graduate school,” said Celise Kalke, Director of New Projects. “It’s even more amazing that these same writers have worked so hard to have such astonishing careers but still think of Atlanta and the Alliance as a theatrical home!  This 10th anniversary season will be a springboard look at the present and future of American playwriting.”


Over the past ten years, the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition has been supported by a gift from the Kendeda Fund.  Other supporters of the competition include The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Edgerton New American Plays Award, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.


Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm, January 31 – February 23, 2014, on the Hertz Stage.  There will be no 2:30 pm performance on Saturday, February 1 and no 7:30 performance on Sunday, February 2.


Tickets start at $33 and are available at The Woodruff Arts Center Box Office in person or by calling 404-733-5000.  Tickets are also available online at rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 404.733.4690.  Discount rates are also available for members of the military, seniors and students.  The Alliance Theatre is located at The Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree Street, at the corner of Peachtree and 15th Street, in Midtown Atlanta.

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