2016 Finalists

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Owen Carey

The Oregon Play Prize is a foundational element of Artists Rep’s Table|Room|Stage program to develop new work for the theatre.  This Prize offers a $10,000 commission, developmental support and a production in an upcoming Artists Rep season to a writer with deep roots in Oregon.

Of 131 original submissions, three plays rose to the top. Each one is stylistically different from the other two, and each expresses the writer's voice with imagination, clarity, and rigorous intelligence -- exactly the type of work that T|R|S is meant to support.

All of these writers have a depth of experience, and have variously received accolades and awards from the National Eugene O'Neill Playwriting Conference, the Julie Harris Award, James Rogers Award, the Fratti-Newman Political Play competition, Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Literary Arts. These are writers of substance and talent, and we are extremely pleased to share their work with the public and to recognize all of them for their strong playwrighting. 

We invited the public to read the materials submitted about each play, and then vote for which of these three terrific plays should receive the Oregon Play Prize.

Good Citizen by George Taylor – an exploration of Oregon’s role in the Japanese internment camps during World War II and one man’s fight to be recognized.

George Taylor has been a writer all his professional life and a theatre-lover since the age of eight, when he played the spoiled prince in a grade-school dramatization of a children’s story, “Hot As Summer, Cold as Winter.” At the age of 50, he began seriously to write plays. Good Citizen was a finalist for the 2011 Oregon Book Awards and was short-listed for both the 2010 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and the Fratti-Newman Political Play competition in New York. It has had developmental readings at Artists Rep and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His first completed work, Renaissance, a time-bending drama centering on a true-life painting competition between Leonardo and Michelangelo, was a 2008 Oregon Book Awards finalist and a semifinalist for the 2006-07 Julie Harris Playwright Award. His latest play, Ghosts in the Canvas, an exploration of a family mystery that underpins one of John Singer Sargent’s most beloved paintings, was his third Oregon Book Awards finalist in 2015. Other plays include The Strange Case of the Miser at Christmas, a re-imagining of A Christmas Carol in which a famous consulting detective seeks to solve the real mystery haunting Scrooge. Taylor is a member of the Dramatists Guild and has received playwriting fellowships from the Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Literary Arts. A past board president of Profile Theatre, he now serves in that capacity with CoHo Productions. He lives in Beaverton with his wife, Edie.

Description       Writing Sample

(WINNER) Signs by Steven Rathje– A surrealistic comedy about love, purpose, and the little things that seem to matter so much to us.

Steve Rathje’s play Signs was recently named a Finalist in the 2016 National Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference. His other plays have been published by Samuel French Inc. and Dramatics Magazine and have been produced by Stanford University, the International Thespian Conference, the Portland Fertile Ground Festival and more. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of Proscenium Journal and co-producer of the Proscenium Live Festival of New Works. He has also acted with several Portland theaters including Artists Repertory Theatre, Northwest Classical Theatre and Coho Productions. Steve currently attends Stanford University, where he studies Symbolic Systems, Psychology, and Theatre and Performance Studies.

Description       Writing Sample

The Snowmaker by Aleks Merilo – a psychological thriller in which a girl meets her estranged father and must figure out who – or what – he is running from.

Aleks Merilo is a Pacific Northwest-based playwright and drama teacher. Merilo’s scripts include The Snowmaker (Winner of the 2016 Playwrights First Award), The Widow of Tom's Hill (Winner of the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition; produced Off Broadway at 59E59 in 2015), Exit 27 (Winner of the Coho Productions New by Northwest Playwriting Contest; performed at the Landing Theatre in Houston, The Sanguine Theatre Company in New York City and Southwest Theater Productions) and Little Moscow (Winner of Dubuque Playwriting Contest; performed at the Labute New Play Festival and the Arundel Festival, UK ).  His plays have been performed/developed with the aid of Furious Theater at Pasadena Playhouse, Old Globe Theater, Fertile Ground Festival of New Work, Pittsburgh New Works Festival, Ross Valley Players, Moving Arts Theater, The UCLA New Play Festival, and Portland Readers Theater among others. Originally from Palo Alto, CA, he holds a BA in Theater and an MFA in playwriting from The UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.

 Description        Writing Sample