Tennessee Williams House

COLUMBUS, Miss. — Mississippi University for Women will help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Tennessee Williams Tribute this weekend with a first.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, September 11, the three finalists in the inaugural National 10-Minute Playwriting Contest will present readings of their works on ZOOM.

The W’s Theatre Department and Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy will partner with the Columbus Community’s Tennessee Williams Tribute Weekend organization and “Ponder Review” to help honor the legacy of Williams and the tradition of Southern literary excellence.

The contest will feature readings from “She’s Dead to Me” by Bryan Starchman, “Some Woman’s Son” by Jennie Franklin and “Aging Out” by Gerald Williams. The plays contain adult themes and graphic language. Viewer discretion is advised.

Thomas “Kris” Lee, and assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at The W, and David Carter, chair of the Department of Theatre, worked closely with the Tennessee Williams Tribute board and played integral roles in organizing the event.

Lee said the contest “raises the bar” on the exciting and challenging art form of playwriting by forcing participants to tell a whole story realized in 10 minutes or less.

“It is the anatomy of a crucial moment,” Lee said. “The basic rules of a full-length play apply, for the most part, but when you add in additional restrictions such as cast size, minimal set, etc. it pushes playwrights to think beyond their typical comfort zones.”

Lee credits everyone involved for their help in pulling off the contest during a pandemic. He said it was a “natural step” to bring together The W’s MFA programs in Creative Writing and Theatre, the dedicated faculty members in each department and the Tennessee Williams Tribute Weekend

“We hope to continue to strengthen the relationship between the city of Columbus and The W,” Lee said. “In the process we invite the rest of the world to see the birthplace of the great Tennessee Williams and the impact he continues to have.”

The winner of the contest will receive an interview and will have their script published in “Ponder Review,” which is a student-run publication of the MFA program at The W. The finalists will split a cash prize of nearly $500.