TAMPA — The new Lily Dishman Playwriting Program at the University of South Florida is off to an impressive start.
Most of the 14 students in the Writing for the Theatre class, taught by Adjunct Professor Bill Leavengood, entered the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 4 one-act play contest. The region includes schools from the southeastern United States.
Of 33 entries in the one-act play contest, four of the six finalists chosen to have their work presented at the festival as staged readings were from USF. The winning students were Alejandro Collado for Open; Luke Holt for Motoraku; Kevin Wesson for Finch and Chips; Erica Zephir for Why Now? Heather Harris received an honorable mention for Something Blue and was an alternate selection.
Only a few students from USF entered the 10-minute play contest. There were 123 entries in the category, and Josh Moody’s play, Beyond the Badge, was chosen as one of those 6 finalists.
One play from each category will be selected to represent Region 4 in the national Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, D.C.
This is the first year USF playwrights have entered work in the KCACTF. In the program’s inaugural year last year, Kevin Wesson’s play was among the winners of a play contest in Atlanta, where it was workshopped last May. Jaime O’Brien was runner up in the History Matters: Judith Barlow Playwriting Prize contest, winning $1,000.
The selected playwrights and some of their playwriting classmates will attend the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Charleston, S.C. in February, where their plays will be given public staged readings for attendees and judges.
Leavengood, the adjunct professor, is a widely recognized name in dramatic circles and especially so in St. Petersburg. He has taught drama for years at Shorecrest Preparatory School, and is known for several plays about St. Petersburg, among them Webb’s City: The Musical and Crossing the Bay, which was about St. Petersburg and Tampa in 1888.