Ben Gierhart. Photo by Nick Smith
By Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2016 Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Louisville playwright Ben Gierhart’s Another Man’s Treasure has been selected as the winner of the 2016 Charles M. Getchell New Play Contest from the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC).
The play was chosen out of a field of 83 submissions. A panel of readers who are established in professional and/or academic theatre evaluated the plays.
Gierhart will receive a $1,000 cash award during the gala banquet and an all-expense paid trip to SETC’s 67th Annual Convention in Greensboro, NC, where both a critique and staged reading of the winning play, Another Man’s Treasure, will be held. The rehearsal will be held Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 7pm. The staged reading follows the next day at 7pm, immediately followed by the response and critique. Another Man’s Treasure will also be considered for publication in Southern Theatre magazine.
“It was completely unexpected,” explains Gierhart. “The Getchell is SETC’s New Play Award, so the submission can come from anyone who lives in the SETC region. It’s for full-length plays, and the only one I had at the time was Another Man’s Treasure, which I wrote for season one of Derby City Playwrights (DCP).”
Another Man’s Treasure was presented by DCP in a staged reading on May 31, 2015. The play is about a garbage man, Gary, who has a strange ability to experience the memories of other people through the objects they discard. His vicarious life is altered when he meets a young woman named Addison. “I found out about the Getchell that day. I was going to take the notes from that night to polish the script before submitting it, but then I realized the deadline was the next day. I didn’t have time, so I sent it as is.”
Gierhart gives credit for the play’s development to working with the DCP group: “The process really challenged me. I was thinking about the play constantly, even when I wasn’t actually writing it. It also gave me perspective. Hearing people’s reactions to it month after month kept me excited, and it informed me of what I needed to fine tune as I went along instead of having to edit this monster at the end.”
“I found out that I was a finalist, and I thought that would be the end of it. The past winners are MFA candidates or holders. I don’t have a college degree, and it was my first full-length play. I thought I had no chance. I was absolutely stunned.”
Gierhart is currently writing the book to a musical tentatively titled The (Mis)Adventures of Jamie and Nightstalker: A Superhero, Punk Rock Musical for DCP season two. Ben’s short play Out of the Box won the first 24-Hour Play Festival at The Bard’s Town Theatre in Louisville in 2015. He is the playwright of ten-minute plays Nightstalker & Canary, Dreaming on Empty, and The Art of Card Selection as well as Stops, a serialized play based on his own experiences riding public transportation.
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.