A student from The University of Texas-Pan American nabbed the top honor recently from the Southwest Theatre and Film Association (SWTFA) for a paper submitted in the association's yearly scholarly theatre history debut paper contest - the Oscar Brockett Prize in Theatre History.
Capturing the Brockett prize was Delma Maldonado, a UTPA graduate with a major in history and a minor in English, who is a full-time teacher and studying for her master's in history. Her paper, "Lesson from The Piano Lesson: Understanding the Connection between Boy Willie, the Great Migration, and Theme," which is an historical analysis of the August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, will be published in the next issue of the SWFTA scholarly journal. Maldonado will also present her paper at SWTFA's annual conference October 26-30 in Lubbock.
Impressed by the quality of submissions entered, the six-member contest review panel also arranged for a special panel presentation at the conference of three other papers, all written by UTPA students.
"Our upper division theatre and English majors and minors have generally high writing skills, so I was not worried about entering their work. The competition is for the Oscar Brockett Award for a debut paper, meaning that the writer must be someone who has not had a scholarly paper published previously," said Dr. Marian Monta, professor in communication, who submitted eight term papers to the contest written by students in her spring 2005 Contemporary Drama class.
Monta said SWTFA, a six-state academic and professional theatre organization, sponsors the contest for entrants that may include young faculty members, Ph.D. or master's candidates as well as undergraduate students from universities in Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. The prize honors Oscar Brockett, considered to be one of the world's foremost theatre historians and holds the title of University Distinguished Teaching Professor at The University of Texas at Austin.
Winning the Brockett prize as well as having three other papers, all written by undergraduate students, be recognized among all the competitors is exemplary, Monta said, especially considering the level of competition.
"I would say our students did pretty well since the competition includes Ph.D. candidates from a six-state region and even some faculty members," she said. "We can really knock the socks off the competition when I can convince the students they have the abilities and should have the confidence to enter."
Maldonado, Guerra and Cruz will attend the three-day conference along with Monta and other staff and faculty participants. Two other UTPA students, Deidra Duron and Cecil Castle, will also attend to participate in regional acting auditions held at the conference.