CSU Selects Winner of Playwriting Competition

The Gravediggers Tango, a mystery drama by San Francisco-based playwright and actor Ian Walker, is the winner of the 2005 Larry Corse Prize for Playwriting an international competition hosted by Columbus State Universitys Department of Theatre.

IanWalker, who has previously collected awards for acting, directing, sound design and playwriting, earns $1,000 with the Corse prize and will have his play produced and staged by faculty and students of the CSU theatre department during its 2006-07 season.

CSU theatre professor Steven Graver, who directs the competition said Walkers play centers on Patrick Trick Bulifant, a scrappy, wayward youth who is desperately in need of cash and has been hired to exhume a handful of graves that are being protected by Lazlo, the caretaker, with the business-end of a shovel. The ensuing battle of wills brings several secrets to light, not the least of which is the story of the woman whose grave is scheduled to be opened next.

The son of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Walker, Ian Walker currently is a playwright-in-residence with Second Wind Productions in San Francisco. His previous plays have been performed from San Francisco to New York and include Black Lies, Vigilance, Ghost in the Light, The Stone Trilogy and A Beautiful Home for the Incurable.

The CSU competition was established in 2003 by Larry Corse, former artistic director of Clayton State University (Ga.) Theater, to encourage the development and production of new works for the stage. The competition moved to CSU last year under direction of Graver, a former student of Corse. Last years winning entry, Seagulls in a Cherry Tree by William Missouri Downs was staged in November by CSU.

The most recent competition drew 316 entries from playwrights in 16 different countries ranging from England and Australia to Indonesia, Iran and Trinidad and Tobago. Corse and a panel of Atlanta-area theater professionals narrowed the field and forwarded five finalist entries to Graver and his CSU theatre faculty colleagues who decided the winner. The finalists scripts widely varied in terms of subject and style, but all were fascinating in their sense of theatricality, said Graver.

The plot themes, Graver added, ranged from turn-of-the-last-century Australian politics to inept family supervision of a chocolate factory. Gravediggers Tango had a story and structure that we felt would be challenging but achievable by our student actors.

Submission information for the 2006 competition will be posted on the CSU theatre Web site at http://theatre.colstate.edu in early August. Questions can be directed to Graver at graver_steven@ColumbusState.edu or by phone at 706-568-2048.