One-Act Play Contest Winner Announcement
After long and heated consideration of finalists’ plays, the judges of our One-Act Contest over at the University of New Orleans’ Film, Theater and Communications Arts Department, have chosen Jessica Alexander’s “Jumpers” as the winner of our contest.
Jessica’s grand prize includes $1,5000, a staged reading at the 2012 Festival, a full production at the 2013 Festival, VIP All-Access Festival passes for two years ($1,000 value) and publication of her winning play in Bayou.
Jessica Alexander is a children’s book author and editor whose award-winning picture books have been translated into multiple languages. She is active in local theater and a founding member of StageWrite Playwrights’ Group. Her ten-minute play, Confessions at the End of the World, will premiere in Atlanta in June. We caught up with her recently to get the story behind the play.
Is “Jumpers” your first attempt at writing plays?
I started out as a children’s book author writing rhyming picture books and have only recently begun writing plays. Prior to “Jumpers,” I’d entered my first playwriting contest and won a staged reading of my ten-minute play, The Recipe Box. I’d also written the book and lyrics for a full-length musical, but since I don’t write music, I had to leave that in the drawer.
How long did it take? What inspired it?
“Jumpers” began, literally, as a half-dream. I had already turned out the lights and drifted into that twilight between wakefulness and sleep when Mark and Sandrine started speaking to me out of nowhere: a girl and a boy on a bridge. I almost ignored them. I had kids, work, responsibilities—I needed my sleep. But their words kept popping into my head, one after the other, and by the time I relented and grabbed my laptop from beside the bed, nearly ten pages of dialogue came spilling out.
I didn’t know what it would become at that point. I only knew that I felt connected to these characters, and I felt like they might be able to teach one another a few things. They took up residence in my head. I wondered: Who are they? What brought them to this place? Where—if anywhere—will they go from here? It wasn’t until months later that the rest of their story became clear and I began to be able to write it.
How does it feel to be recognized in the contest, and have your play produced?
Winning this contest has come as a total shock to me, and I’m honored by the recognition. I’m somewhat new to playwriting and just getting my feet wet, so I had few expectations going in. I submitted the play because I couldn’t stand the thought of Mark and Sandrine moldering away in obscurity. I feel like their story is worthwhile, and I hope others will too. I can’t wait until next year when I get to see them come to life; my guess is that it will feel just like getting the illustrations back for a picture book—the artist’s vision of my work is always so much better than what I’d had in my head!
For the staged reading of “Jumpers,” mark Sunday March 25, 2012 on your calendars. Entry to the reading is free with a Festival Panel Pass or $5 at the door.