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Kellee Terrell's 'Gemma' Named Winner of 2017 LezPlay Competition

Friday Sep 8, 2017

Pride Films and Plays is delighted to announce Kellee Terrell's "Gemma" as the winner of its 2017 LezPlay Contest. Out of three dozen entries, three scripts advanced to the finals.

"These two screenplays and one stage play elevate and celebrate dyke drama (and comedy), showcasing Sapphic-centric narratives that spoke loud and queer to our judges," said LezPlay Literary Coordinator Allison Fradkin.

Terrell's winning script will receive four days of developmental workshops, culminating in two public staged readings during LezPlay Weekend September 8-9 at Pride Arts Center in Chicago. The two other finalists were "Thanatron," a farcical screenplay about the world's most dysfunctional family, a doctor with a penchant for assisted suicide, and a lesbian housekeeper with a crush on her employer; and "It's Not Rocket Science" by Katherine Varga, a full-length stage comedy about a teenager at rocket science camp and her astrological cult-founding parents.

LezPlay, now in its seventh year, enhances the visibility and advances the viability of women who write plays, screenplays, and teleplays in which lesbian characters and themes -- past, present, and future -- play a pivotal role. To judge the submissions, Allison Fradkin, LezPlay's Literary Coordinator, assembled a reading team of 25 industry professionals who served as adjudicators for the contest, evaluating the entries for concept and originality, structure, plot, dialogue, character development, and lesbian content.

The winning entry, "Gemma" by Kellee Terrell concerns Zora, a Black lesbian grieving the death of her pregnant wife, moves into an isolated rural Wisconsin farmhouse, where she befriends Gemma, a lonely ghost haunting the estate. The two grow close over time, but the spirit lashes out when Zora finds a new girlfriend. Is this a jealous ghost trying to stake her claim or is something more sinister going on? "Gemma" will be performed in a staged public reading in The Broadway, Pride Arts Center, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, September 8 and Saturday, September 9.

Kellee Terrell is a Chicago-based award-winning filmmaker and journalist who writes about race, gender, health, and pop culture. Her articles and interviews have been featured in Harper's Bazaar, Essence, The Advocate, Hello Beautiful, Ebony, The Root, Al Jazeera, BET, and The Huffington Post. In 2016, "Gemma" was one of five scripts chosen for the Outfest Screenwriting Lab Fellowship. twitter.com/kelleent


"Thanatron" by Carolyn Gage is a rollicking farce about the world's most dysfunctional family, a doctor with a penchant for assisted suicide, and a lesbian housekeeper with a crush on her employer. An over-the-top comedy about leaving, being left, and what it takes to stay.

Carolyn Gage is a playwright, performer, director, and activist. The author of nine books on lesbian theatre and seventy-five plays, musicals, and one-woman shows, she specializes in non-traditional roles for women, especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history.

Her work is widely produced, and in 2014 she was one of six featured playwrights at UNESCO's World Theatre Day in Rome. She has received numerous grants and fellowships, won the national Lambda Literary Award in Drama, and was nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association's Steinberg New Play Award for her play "Ugly Ducklings." Her papers are archived at the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College. carolyngage.weebly.com

"It's Not Rocket Science" by Katherine Varga
Tara Sterling has always known her destiny is to become a rocket scientist. After all, it says so in the stars-at least according to her parents, founders of an astrological cult. But when Tara attends a rocket science camp for advanced high school students, she meets a mysterious puppeteer, and her plans start to falter.

Katherine Varga's first full-length play, "Energy Mass Light," received a developmental staged reading at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester and was later student-produced on the University of Rochester campus. Her short plays have been seen at Curious Theatre (Denver), 20% Theatre Company (Chicago), and the 2015 First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. She is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Playwriting at Ohio University. katherinevarga.weebly.com

The LezPlay Reading Team included Alana Parvey Zalas, Managing Director of About Face Theatre; Alexandra Hidalgo, Filmmaker; Aliya Brooks, Filmmaker; Anne Bertram, Playwright + Founding Artistic Associate of Theatre Unbound; Ashley Jacobson, Artistic Director of The Dirty Blondes Theatre Company; Avi Roque, Performance Artist; Becky Lane, Filmmaker + Founder of Nice Girl Films; Bridget McManus, Comedienne + Vice President of Development for tello films; Brittany Alsot, Filmmaker; Colette Freedman, Playwright + Screenwriter; Hilary McCollum, Playwright; Jennifer Reeder, Filmmaker; Katherine Quin, Dramaturg and Literary Manager of Odd's Bodkins; Kim L. Hunt, Co-founder of OUTSpoken! Storytelling Series; Laura K. Henderson, Founder and Executive Producer of Queer Theatre Kalamazoo; Lianna Carrera, Comedienne; Marc James, Artistic Director of The Cuckoo's Theater Project; Megan Donohue, Playwright; Patrice Foster, Theatre Director; Rachel Bykowski, Playwright + Literary Manager of 20% Theatre Company Chicago; Renée Iaci, Artistic Director of Shameless Hussy Productions; Tira Palmquist, Playwright + Dramaturg; Tracey Erbacher, Artistic Director of Theatre Prometheus; Vanessa Stalling, Theatre Director; Victoria Rose Sampson, Filmmaker.

"Gemma" By Kellee Terrell
Public staged reading of the 2017 LezPlay Winning Script
Friday and Saturday, September 8-9
7:30 p.m.
The Broadway, Pride Arts Center
4139 N. Broadway, Chicago
Tickets - Pay-What-You-Can

For tickets or information, call 800-737-0984 or visit www.pridefilmsandplays.com


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