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Writing alumna will take work-in-progress to month-long workshop

MFA Writing for the Screen and Stage alumna Carrie Barrett (GC09) has been invited to participate in the prestigious 2010 Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference with her play, The Burden of Not Having a Tail, which was written as part of her coursework at Northwestern.

Barrett’s play and six other works were chosen from approximately 600 play submissions.

The selected playwrights will spend the month of July at the O’Neill’s Waterford, Connecticut, campus developing and presenting staged readings of their work during the NPC’s 46th season.

“I am so thrilled,” Barrett said. “I am told the people and atmosphere at The O’Neill are one-of-a-kind. It will be great to focus on writing for a month in that kind of collaborative environment.”

Barrett credits her MFA cohort Sara Accuardi (GC09) for suggesting that Barrett submit her solo play for the National Playwrights’ Conference. “I was surprised [Accuardi] suggested that particular play, since it was only 25 pages and one act in its first draft – not to mention the fact that it’s a one-character play,” Barrett said. “I am embarrassed to say I initially brushed her suggestion aside, but after she encouraged me the second time, I decided to submit. She was the first person I called when I found out.”

Radio/television/film assistant professor and playwright Rebecca Gilman said she and the other faculty members are delighted by Barrett’s news.

“The conference has long been regarded as one of the premier play development opportunities in the country,” Gilman said.

The O’Neill, founded in 1964 in honor of Eugene O’Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize winner and America’s only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, is dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theatre. The O’Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and 2,500 emerging artists. Projects developed at the O’Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, off-Broadway and major regional theaters.

“Although our program is young, our students have already experienced great success,” Gilman said, citing a few other examples: Sarah Gubbins (C97, GC08) had a play, Fair Use, included in Steppenwolf’s First Look Series; Matthew Smith (GC08) has joined the MCC Playwrights Coalition in New York; current MFA student Meridith Friedman has been chosen to attend the MFA Playwrights Conference at the Kennedy Center this summer; a new play by Ben Viccellio (GC09) will be produced by Dog and Pony Theatre in Chicago over the summer. “To name just a few accomplishments,” Gilman said. “We want to congratulate Carrie and all her peers on their terrific accomplishments.”