Bernie Gelfand wrote the play which won first place this year, an intriguing piece called “Hunger” about two writers, a second rank novelist and a successful non-fiction author who find their ambition and character flaws fuel powerful emotions of envy, hate, lust and fear as one interviews the other for a major magazine article.
Paul Bilodeau’s play “If I Die Tomorrow” about a middle aged couple facing a crisis took second place, in a tie with Hank Bordan of The Life Institute. Both Bernie and Paul are members of ACT II STUDIO and Act 2 Studio WORKS.
The Stella Awards are given for a one act play written by an older adult participant in any of the Programs for 50+ and presented at the 50+ Festival in June. It was created in 2011 by Estelle Craig who, as a member of The Estelle Craig ACT II STUDIO, became very interested in writing plays, rather than acting.
Estelle created the first Stella Award to encourage seniors to write plays that share their awareness, knowledge, wisdom and experience of life. Her family, through a donation to Ryerson University, were able to ensure the endowment of the award. And each year since 2011 the award has been given to least two and many times three older adults whose plays have been judged award-worthy.
This year the two judges were able to be present at the ceremony and talked about the review process, offering some suggestions for writers. There are clear guidelines and criteria on which the plays are judged and the judges reflected on the submissions and what they look for in their reviews. They reminded everyone that play writing is hard work and sometimes a ‘tough slog’ especially in refining and honing the work to its essence. The plays from playwrights who have obviously worked hard on their submissions shine through in their readings which are always a pleasure to read.
Also this was the first in many years that Estelle Craig was present to give out the awards. Estelle is 102 and a number of years ago a documentary featuring Estelle in her 95th year was shown on American and Canadian public broadcasting stations. If you google her you can see the video. She continues to write about her experiences as she ages, although she has now turned to short books.
Estelle presented all of the winners with their awards and reminded everyone that through the medium of theatre, the playwright has a great opportunity to pass on to the world the wisdom and experience of one’s life as we age.