Ear to The Edge of Time, by Australian playwright Alana Valentine, is the winner of the STAGE International Script Competition for the best new play about science and technology.
Ms. Valentine’s play was selected by a world-class panel of judges: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights Tony Kushner, David Lindsay-Abaire and Donald Margulies; Nobel Laureates Robert C. Richardson and Frank Wilczek; and winner of the National Medal of Science and the Franklin Medal, Dr. David J. Wineland.
STAGE – Scientists, Technologists and Artists Generating Exploration – will award Valentine at a ceremony in Dublin, the 2012 European City of Science. The top honor is coveted among playwrights for the prestige and opportunities it brings, as well as for its sizeable $10,000 prize.
The BBC World Service Science in Action radio program has been following the STAGE Competition through its entire fifth cycle. The latest installments in the BBC series featured interviews with the three finalists. Nancy Kawalek, founder and director of STAGE, was brought in at the end of Ms. Valentine’s interview to surprise the playwright with the news of her win.
“I think the only salient word to describe my reaction is gob-smacked,” said Ms. Valentine. “I am still a little in shock and trying to absorb the honor and privilege it is to have won this award.”
The winning script was chosen from nearly 200 entries hailing from a dozen countries. During each submission period, plays are received from all over the world and written by a wide range of authors. Since its inception, the diverse entrants have included established and prominent playwrights and screenwriters, an unknown playwright living in a remote part of Nigeria, highly-regarded scientists, and even a Nobel Laureate.
In Valentine’s Ear to The Edge of Time, a contemporary radio astronomer faces a desperate crisis about gender politics, attribution, and the role of team work in 21st century science. The play deals with the fascinating machinations of astronomical physics, as well as the dilemmas, compromises, and culture that are part of scientific discovery.
Ms. Valentine, who is from Sydney, Australia, writes plays that engage with the real-life stories and voices of Australian communities. She has received numerous awards, including the 2004
Queensland Premier’s Award for Best Drama Script, the 2003 New South Wales Writer’s Fellowship, the 2002 Rodney Seaborn Playwrights’ Award, and an International Writing Fellowship at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. She has also been granted two Australian Writers Guild awards, the ANPC/New Dramatists Award in NYC, a Churchill Fellowship for England and Ireland, and a New South Wales Premier’s Award. In 2000, she received a Centenary Medal for her work on the Centenary of Australia’s Federation.
Along with the winning play, two other plays were singled out as finalists in this cycle of the competition: Sequence, by Arun Lakra, an eye surgeon and writer from Calgary, and This Rough Magic, by Richard Manley, a former advertising executive-turned-playwright from New York City.
In tandem with the award ceremony on October 21, 2012, there will be a staged reading of the winning play performed by professional Irish actors at Dublin’s Samuel Beckett Theatre. The event locale was chosen as a result of a collaboration between STAGE and CRANN, the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices, an internationally recognized institute for nanoscience research located at Trinity College Dublin.
STAGE, a unique collaboration between the arts and sciences, is housed in the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), an esteemed science institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara. STAGE grew out of efforts to catalyze the development of theatre that depicts the technological age in which we live and to foster new and imaginative voices and methods of storytelling, as well as to promote understanding of the sciences in the public arena.
The BBC’s Science in Action series on STAGE is expected to culminate in coverage of the Dublin award ceremony and play reading. The entire series of broadcasts is available at http://stage.ucsb.edu/competition/broadcast/BBC-World-Service.php.