WMU graduate wins prestigious playwriting fellowship

Contact: Mark Schwerin

KALAMAZOO--A recent Western Michigan University graduate has won the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival's Ten-Minute Play Award at the same time he has been selected for a prestigious playwriting fellowship.

Adam Pasen, who recently earned his doctoral degree in playwriting through the WMU Creative Writing Program, was one of four finalists for the Ten-Minute Play Award for his play "Starf*cker," which was presented at the Kennedy Center on Wednesday, April 18. The award carries with it a $500 cash prize.

In addition, it was announced during the award ceremony that Pasen is one of six playwrights nationwide to be selected for a fellowship to the 2012 WordBRIDGE Playwrights' Laboratory in partnership with Baltimore CENTERSTAGE. Pasen earned the fellowship for his full-length play "Badfic Love" and will attend the laboratory June 9-23.

Pasen, who is from Chicago, has worked closely with of Dr. Steve Feffer, associate professor of English. Pasen credits his time in WMU's Creative Writing Program with preparing him for a successful writing career and helping him win the award and fellowship.

"Aside from the immense honor I felt at receiving the national Ten-Minute Play Award from the Kennedy Center and the WordBRIDGE fellowship, I was also awed by just how far I have come as a playwright during my time in Kalamazoo; these are accolades I never could have achieved without Dr. Feffer's guidance and the support I have found in the playwriting community at WMU," Pasen says. "Thanks to Western, I am leaving with a portfolio of work I am confident in and a network of incredible connections to help me find my footing as I embark on the next phase of my playwriting journey."

Feffer, who also serves as chair of the National Playwriting Program for the KCACTF for the Great Lakes Region, says the two honors acknowledge Pasen as a young playwright on the rise.

"These are extraordinary achievements and very well-deserved honors," Feffer says. "His play was selected out of well over a thousand submissions for the Ten-Minute Play Award. And WordBRIDGE is an extremely prestigious and competitive new play development organization."

Feffer adds that this is the third year in a row that WMU playwrights have won national playwriting awards at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Pasen was among more than 120 outstanding theater students from colleges and universities nationwide who flocked to the Kennedy Center April 16-21 for the 44th annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. In January and February, they presented their work at eight regional festivals, earning an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the festival.

Pasen's play overcame huge odds just to be chosen a finalist. More than 120 student-written 10-minute plays are received at each of the eight Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Regional Festivals. Each region typically selects just six playwrights to be showcased at the regional festival, and a select few are chosen as national finalists.

WordBRIDGE nominations also are solicited from around the country. The playwrights' laboratory encourages writers to send scripts that best capture their voices and visions, but that are in need of revision and the intensive work. Nominated scripts are then distributed to a panel of theatre professionals who read and recommend projects based on originality, vision and voice. Once the pool of nominations has been narrowed down to selected finalists, lab organizers talk with each of the playwrights and determine if he or she is a good match.

In addition to the Kennedy Center and WordBRIDGE, Pasen's plays have been produced or workshopped by American Theater Company, Remy Bumppo, City Lit and the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival. He has been a finalist for the Reva Shiner Comedy Award from Bloomington Playwrights Project and has also served as dramaturg and company member on the WMU production "Good Death" presented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and a new piece about Jack Kevorkian created in collaboration with Moises Kaufman's Tectonic Theater Project. He has several short pieces published with Brooklyn Publishers and Heuer.

As an actor, Pasen's recent roles include Mitchell in "The Little Dog Laughed," the titular character in "Tartuffe," Edmund in "King Lear" and Robert Martin in "The Drowsy Chaperone," as well as Jim Marvin in "Oh Boy!" at City Lit in Chicago.

Visit kcactf.org or wordbridge.org/site3 for more information.