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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Second Annual Villanova Theatre Playwriting Competition!

Mark Costello ('10), who won last year for his play m4m
The Villanova Theatre Department is pleased to announce the Second Annual Playwriting Competition, offered exclusively to Villanova students, alumni, faculty and staff. 

The goal of this competition is to foster creative endeavors within the Villanova arts community. The funding and support for this project will be provided by the Sue Winge Playwriting Grant. 

Mark J. Costello, the 2013 winner, had this to say about the experience: "Being recognized by my alma mater -especially one in memory of a beloved and highly respected member of our community - was an honor beyond words.  It has encouraged me to write bigger and better, and I'm excited to see what work the award inspires in the creative geniuses of other Villanova theatremakers."

The guidelines for the competition are as follows:

1.  Competition is open to all Villanova students, alumni, faculty and staff.
Scripts are to be original, unpublished, and unproduced.  

2. Musicals, monologues, children’s plays, film scripts, and television scripts are ineligible.

3. Winning playwright will receive a $300 stipend. Travel and housing costs are the responsibility of playwright.

4. Winning play will receive two rehearsals and a staged reading in September 2014 that will be open to the public.

5. The Theatre Department will provide a cast and a graduate student director.

6. In addition to a staged reading, the playwright will receive professional feedback from Villanova University’s Theatre Department.           

7. Playwrights may submit ONE play per year. Plays submitted that do not win may be resubmitted in subsequent years.

8. Scripts must be submitted in English.

9. Only electronic copies may be submitted.

The deadline for submission is March 7th, 2014

All submissions should be directed to the attention of: Elizabeth Marafino, Production Assistant,

The Sue Winge Playwriting Grant and competition was established in memory of beloved Villanova University employee, Sue Winge, who served the university for many years in the Theatre Department and the President’s Office.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

When Villanova Theatre chose to include The School For Lies in their 2013-14 season, they knew off the bat that they would need a strong student production dramaturg to help the cast pull the high-style court of Louis the XIV through history and into the modern day - which is really the project of the entire production.  Good thing Sarah Totora was willing and available!  Previously receiving distinction for her Orals project as Production Dramaturg for How I Learned to Drive in Villanova Theatre's 2012-13, Sarah has done a stellar job of making the foreign world of Paris, 1666 accessible to the cast and audience.  Below are just a few of the amazing things she found in her research:

SARAH: Modeled after Molière's play The Misanthrope, David Ives' The School for Lies invites us to pull up a chair in a chic Paris salon, circa 1666...and 2014. Ives infuses the play with contemporary expressions and anachronistic references, bending its 17th-century setting like a funhouse mirror. The result is a world that pulses with then and now, which the cast navigates expertly.  

To help everyone find their footing in this curious environment, I researched life and style in the 1600s--an era of carefully prescribed manners and mores. Bows and curtsies, walking sticks, elegant handkerchiefs, and ballet-like poses colored courtly life in Molière's time, and informed our interpretation of characters in The School for Lies. Along the way, I also picked up some pointed advice.

For example, a 1694 British publication called The Ladies' Dictionary advised women against being too skinny: "Bodies that are very Lean and Scragged, we must own, cannot be very Comely: it is a contrary Extream to Corpulency and the Parties Face always seems to carry Lent in it." The same manual cautions a woman not to yield to her beau's advances too hastily, even if she loves him, explaining, "You will get better Conditions if the Enemy does not know how weak you are within. Forgive, Ladies, all the Warlike Gibberish..."

Men, too, had guides to inform their wooing, such as The Academy of Complements, which dates back to 1661. Herein a man could gather sample sweet-talk to try out on the "ladies and gentlewomen" in his life. He might, for example, tell a girlfriend that "her breasts are a pair of Maiden-unconquered Worlds," or that "her neck is polisht Ivory, white as the silver Dove."

The way I see it, primary sources like these are a dramaturgical jackpot--a time capsule that brings to life a given historical moment with words straight from the horse's mouth. More illuminating yet? Take a look at this month's Cosmopolitan magazine, whose cover stories include "The One Thing You Must Never Do With A Guy" and "The Bikini Body Plan: 4 Steps to Smokin'!" Or check out the current issue of GQ for "The Best Places In The World To Take Your Girlfriend (We Checked With Her)." As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The School for Lies runs February 11th-23rd.  Call the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610.519.7474 or visit for ticket information.