Vietnam-Afghanistan war script wins Kentucky Women Writers playwrighting competition

Los Angeles-based playwright Keliher Walsh’s Year of the Rabbit has won first prize in the Kentucky Women Writers Conference‘s competition for full-length plays. The play, which ties the Vietnam and Afghanistan wars together, will receive a full production by Balagula Theatre in March.

Keliher Walsh

The competition was judged by award-winning playwright Naomi Wallace, a native of Prospect, Ky., who selected Walsh’s script from three finalists, which also included One Night in a Dance Hall by Ludmilla Bollow of Milwaukee, Wis., and Burying Mother by Donna Spector of Warwick, N.Y.

“Year of the Rabbit makes evident, with a fresh theatricality and original imagination, the historical and emotional connectedness we often wish to deny between what one might call Big History and the most intimate experiences of our lives,” Wallace said in a news release from the Women Writers Conference. “The play brings together the disparate worlds of love and war, and the collision is both disturbing and at times, deeply moving.”

In addition to the world premiere production, Walsh will receive $500 cash.

The playwrighting competition was suggested to the conference by Herald-Leader theater critic Candace Chaney. The initial round of 168 entries was judged by a panel including Chaney, Balagula Theatre co-artistic directors Natasha Williams and Ryan Case, Peabody Award-winning playwright and University of Kentucky assistant professor of playwrighting Herman Daniel Farrell III and Women Writers Conference director Julie Kuzneski Wrinn.

Balagula is currently producing Wallace’s Obie Award-winning play One Flea Spare, which had its world premier at the 1996 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. The Balagula Production will run Sept. 1-4 and 11-14. The Kentucky Women Writer’s Conference is Sept. 15-18 at the University of Kentucky.

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