Young Scholars Award

About the Award

The History/Theory/Criticism/Literature Committee of the Southeastern Theatre Conference invites submissions in all topics related to the broad categories of history, theory, criticism, and literature. We are committed to scholarly exploration of issues concerning all types of theatre presentation. We welcome both traditional and contemporary approaches to history, theory, criticism, and literature as well as related concerns such as pedagogy, historiography, and applied drama, including alternative or even radical approaches and interpretations. The HTCL Committee encourages submissions from young scholars who are part of the global majority and/or are students at majority-minority institutions.


Please contact:

Sarah McCarroll
Young Scholars Award Chair 


  • In order for their papers to be considered, students must be enrolled in an academic program as of November 15.
  • One graduate and one undergraduate paper will be chosen for presentation at the SETC Convention.
  • Winners must present their paper in-person at the Young Scholars Panel held during the SETC Convention in order to collect prizes. If a winning author cannot attend, then an alternate winner will be selected.

Award Winners Will Receive

  • $400 Cash Prize
  • Free SETC Convention Registration
  • Free SETC Membership for One Year
  • Ticket to the Friday Lunch During Convention

Guidelines for Papers

  • Papers should be presentation length of 20 minutes/no more than 3500 words in length (approx. 10 pages; papers that exceed the maximum will not be read).
  • No more than two images directly related to the paper’s argument or analysis may be included at the end of the document.
  • Papers should conform to the guidelines of a major style manual, such as MLA, APA, Turabian, or Chicago.

Guidelines for Submission/Timeline

  • Submit papers to using “LastName SETC Young Scholars” as your subject line.
  • Submissions should include your name, address, email address, phone number, the school you attend, and the degree you are seeking. All papers will be anonymized before being sent out for review by a panel of senior scholars.
  • Papers should be sent as attached Microsoft Word documents (.doc or .docx only).
  • Deadline for submission is December 15 at 11:59 PM ET.
  • Winners will be notified by January 2024.
  • Questions? Please contact History/Theory/Criticism/Literature Chair Dr. Sarah McCarroll at

Previous Winners

2023 Young Scholars Panelists

Paris Aguilar is set to present their papers at the SETC Young Scholars Panel Presentation at the 74th annual SETC Convention in Lexington, KY.

Undergraduate Winner

Paris Aguilar

Paris Aguilar is a junior Theatre major with a history minor at Brenau University where she studies lighting design and technology, dramaturgy, and performance. Paris’ research interests involve the influences between theatre and politics. She is active on her campus as a Vice President in Delta Delta Delta, as well as a member of Alpha Psi Omega and Phi Kappa Phi. Paris has had the pleasure of working with the Gainesville Theatre Alliance in various productions with roles ranging from Head Electrician, Dramaturg, and as a Swing. She’s grateful for her family and community for their ongoing support.

“What in the White People: How Fiddler on the Roof serves to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964″


This paper serves as an analysis of the support Joseph Stein’s Fiddler on the Roof gives to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The musical opened five months after the Act’s passage, nineteen years after World War II, with the guilt and sympathy for European Jews still fresh in American minds. When looking at the historical context between 1960s America and the production of the musical, one can infer that Stein’s message of equality can be linked to his support for the Civil Rights Movement. By breaking down the Titles in the CRA, there are direct comparisons found between the treatment of both groups in areas of public segregation and education, Civil Rights, appellate review, and community relations. The struggles Tevye and his family face compared to the injustices People of Color faced during the Civil Rights movement create an argument that if one can sympathize and seek change for a marginalized group that is white-complected, they should seek the same for the People of Color they live alongside.

2022 Young Scholars Panelists

Berit Schönegge and Garret Lee Milton presented their papers at the SETC Young Scholars Panel Presentation at the 73rd annual SETC Convention in Memphis, TN.

Undergraduate Winner

Berit Schönegge

Berit Schönegge is an international exchange student from University Leipzig, currently studying at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is pursuing a BA in Musicology and an individual minor with a concentration in Theatre Studies. Selected research interests include music and social movements, cross-casting practices, and orientalism. For her gap year she volunteered at Theater Vorpommern in PR and dramaturgy. Highlights include prompting for The Last Five Years and supertitling La Bohème. She interned at Schlosstheater Celle as a directing assistant/stage manager for Little Shop of Horrors. At HWS she is currently involved in Memories of Overdevelopment as stage manager.

“Between Colonial Imposition and Native Christianity: Nahuatl Theatre ‘under?’ the Influence of Spanish Occupation and Catholic Mission”

Abstract: The paper seeks to map out the field of tension that brought forth Nahual-Christian theatre. When Franciscan friars arrived in “New Spain” in 1524, the Aztec empire had already disintegrated – Mexico was under colonial rule. Both friars and Nahuatls were shocked upon witnessing each other’s religious practices. To successfully indoctrinate the native population, common ground was needed. The Franciscans took multiple conscious steps to build up an understanding, including learning the Nahuatl language and teaching its written form to their indigenous students. The closest thing Europe offered to Aztec temple rituals was religious theatre. The friars specifically authorized scripts, but they were translated and copied, as well as performed by the Nahuatls themselves for their altepetl (“community”). Translation processes, metaphorical differences, and cultural and religious misunderstandings issued shifts of power. As Christian-Nahuatl theatre became a merged artform, a dualistic model of suppression and adaption is not simply applicable. The paper combines Postlewait’s “(re)construction” of events, Burkhart’s “Native Christianity”, broader postcolonial approaches, and the culture transfer theory (Espagne/Werner) in order to interweave theatrical practice and historiography. Between Native agency and Spanish oppression, it stresses the importance of multifaceted approaches and findings, when trying to understand the artform’s intricate power complexity.

Graduate Winner

Garret Lee Milton, MFA

Garret Lee Milton is a playwright, theatre scholar, and educator from Washington, D.C. Garret has received numerous staged readings and productions of his plays throughout the United States and abroad, including such venues as The Kennedy Center, Cleveland Play House, and the Forbes Performing Arts Center. He has presented original drama and scholarship through the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Mid-America Theatre Conference, and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Garret is currently a doctoral graduate student in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Texas Tech University where he also teaches theatre appreciation and playwriting.

“Absurd Audiences: Considering Reception Theories for the Premieres of Waiting for Godot

Abstract: Much has already been said about Samuel Beckett and Waiting for Godot, but what this paper examines are the audiences who were present at the various premieres of this polarizing play. What this essay proposes is a consideration and application of contemporary audience reception theories to the French world premiere of Waiting for Godot in 1953 at the Théâtre de Babylone, the expurgated London premiere in 1955 at the Arts Theatre, and the notorious failure of the American premiere in 1956 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami. Each one of these global premieres experienced vastly different popular and critical receptions, and the theories applied herein illuminate the contributing factors and prove to be quite helpful when assessing the historical, artistic, and cultural perspectives of the audiences who would have been present. By analyzing the audiences and their sociopolitical spheres of influence, this paper demonstrates how audience receptivity is responsible for the perplexing and volatile premieres of Waiting for Godot.

2021 Young Scholars Panelists

Carolyn Etzel and Alexandra LaGrand presented their papers at the SETC Young Scholars Panel Presentation at the 72st annual SETC Convention that was held online.

Carolyn Etzel

Undergraduate Winner

Carolyn Etzel

Carolyn is a junior double major in Theatre and Theology at Lee University and a member of the Kairos Honors Scholars program. Her collegiate theatre career includes roles such as Henrietta Leavitt in Silent Sky and Fanny Dashwood in Sense & Sensibility, as well as serving as secretary of Lee University’s Alpha Psi Omega chapter. Carolyn is also a member of the
national religion honor society Theta Alpha Kappa, and she works as a research assistant in the Lee University School of Religion. Her research interests include classical theatre, theological aesthetics, dramatic theory, feminist theology, and liturgical theology.

“The Intersections of Greco-Roman Theatre and Early Christian Liturgy.”

Abstract: This paper seeks to examine the correlations between the structure of Greco-Roman theatre and early Christian liturgical worship, specifically highlighting the dramatic structure of the sacraments and the liturgical calendar, and the use of cosmogonic myths in ancient theatre and religion. The essay strives to unveil the divine possibilities of theatre through an exploration of liturgical development, opening an unexpected dialogue between disciplines. Drawing from voices such as Aristotle and Augustine, the research focuses on the evolution of liturgy in late antiquity as it adopts the traditions of ancient theatre and recycles them for Christian use. While causation is impossible to prove yet, the correlations are too compelling to deny. With this in mind, this paper serves as an invitation both for discourse between two seemingly polarized disciplines and for further research illuminating deeper connections.

Alexandra LaGrand Headshot

Graduate Winner

Alexandra LaGrand

Alexandra is a master’s student studying Shakespeare and Performance at Mary Baldwin University. Her research interests include Shakespearean theatre and performance history and prompt book studies. She earned her undergraduate degree in English and Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where, through an undergraduate research fellowship, this research first began in 2016. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D in English to continue researching Shakespearean prompt books. She is deeply thankful to SETC for this award, and to Dr. Kerry Cooke and Dr. Paul Menzer for their guidance in developing this work.

“‘From the text of Shakspeare’: William Charles Macready, King Lear and the Theatrical Antiquarianism of Locrine.” 

Abstract: As theatre historians know, actor-manager William Charles Macready has a reputation for having restored William Shakespeare’s King Lear in 1838. Hitherto, audiences knew only of Nahum Tate’s 1681 adaptation that featured a happy ending. In his restoration of the tragedy, however, Macready took theatrical liberty when he introduced a new character named Locrine. Echoing back to the 1595 play, The Lamentable Tragedie of Locrine, Locrine is Macready’s materialization of an impulse towards theatrical antiquarianism, or a nostalgic mentality that encompasses the marriage of Shakespearean influence and Victorian practice. This inclusion of Locrine modifies Macready’s reputation from having restored Shakespeare’s “original” text to having created his own adaptation of the play. This paper examines materials including prompt books, diaries, newspaper articles, and playbills to argue for Macready’s belief in Locrine’s Shakespearean authorship while investigating and contextualizing the dramaturgy of Macready’s Locrine character. Doing so will illuminate Macready’s theatrical antiquarianism and revise his status from a restorer to an adapter of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

2020 Young Scholars Panelists

Falan Buie-Madden and Teresa Simone presented their papers at the SETC Young Scholars Panel Presentation at the 71st annual SETC Convention in Louisville, KY.

Falan Buie-Madden Headshot

Undergraduate Winner

Falan Buie-Madden

Falan Buie-Madden is a senior BFA Musical Theatre student at Auburn University who is planning to pursue a masters in directing or applied theatre studies this fall. Her current projects include Ladies Room– a devised piece based on the intricacies of social interaction within public female restrooms, and Sex Education – a solo performance art piece about the failings and fallacies of sex education curriculums, particularly in the south. She currently serves as the assistant director of a devised social justice performance group,Mosaic Theatre Company, and is the student staff employee in the scenic shop. Her interests outside of theatre include social activism, crafting, travelling, and spending time with her new kitten.

Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief, Materialist Feminism, and Female Spaces

Abstract: This paper serves as a materialist feminist analysis of Paula Vogel’s Desdemona and the semantics behind the portrayal and perception of female inhabited spaces. Using historical context and the original text, Othello, we can trace the progression of how female-only spaces are regarded. The materialist feminist lens accentuates the role social status and class play within such a liminal space, and faults the pervasiveness of masculine tendencies for much of the conflict within the piece. We are given an insider look to a new part of Cyprus, without ever forgetting the reason these women cannot always behave this way. Class tensions and violence seep through the walls of what, to them, is a sacred space. Meanwhile, this “back room” is likely not well regarded to the rest of the castle. Desdemona, with the help of materialist feminism, shows the value of narrative through female spaces – how they add to or completely change an existing story, and how most times, they add their own new story altogether.

Teresa Simone Headshot

Graduate Winner

Teresa Simone

Teresa Simone is a second year PhD in Theatre at Florida State University. Teresa was an ensemble actor/director for the educational theatre company Stories That Soar (Tucson, AZ). She is a graduate of the Dell’Arte International School for Physical Theatre, and has an MA in Gender Studies with a concentration in Performance Studies from the University of Arizona. Teresa has trained with Augusto Boal, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and Cornerstone Theatre.

Performing Monkeys in Rococo France

Abstract: This essay looks at art objects to examine representations of performing and performative monkeys in Rococo-era France. I begin looking at a chinoiserie figurine of Arlecchino, holding a baby monkey. The figurine alludes to a story about Arlecchino giving birth to a baby monkey. There were several similar figurines made, all linking Arlecchino to monkeys. What creates the link between Arlecchino and monkeys? It was fashionable to depict performing and performative monkeys in art. For example, there are paintings from the time period that depict monkeys walking tightrope. Singerie was a trend in décor of painting monkeys in clothing, “aping” human behaviors. These art representations illustrated the fact that in populist theatre, performing monkeys were very popular. I compare the representations to art evidence documenting Turco, a very popular performing monkey from the time period. I discuss how these visual representations of performing monkeys exhibit Orientalist aesthetics.

2019 Young Scholars Panelists

Alex Ates and Kenya Gadsden presented their papers at the SETC Young Scholars Panel Presentation at the 70th annual SETC Convention in Knoxville, TN.

Graduate Winner

Alex Ates

Alex Ates is a member of The NOLA Project (Education and Engagement Director; directed four regional premieres) and has performed at New Orleans Shakespeare for a decade (Actors’ Equity member). Directed two Off-Broadway premieres. Board member of The American Alliance for Theatre and Education and is the managing editor of AATE’s magazine, Incite/Insight. Writing has appeared in American Theatre, Howlround, and Backstage. In residence at Emerson College, directing Mad Moon—a new musical by Lisa D’Amour and Sam Craft this spring. In the summers, instructs Theater and Leadership workshops with Columbia’s Teachers College. A second-year MFA candidate in Directing and GTA at The University of Alabama—where he is a Graduate School ambassador.

Powerful Contradictions on Charged Stages: Theater Revolutions in the Jim Crow South

Aiming to incept a definitive and indigenous theater of the African American rural southerner which explored the South’s inherent political and social contradictoriness, the Free Southern Theater (FST) embodied and enlivened American moral contradictoriness on stage, in real time, within unglamourous and dangerous spaces. Freedom was always a literal and abstract principle for the FST—something logistical and economical but also constricted by the relentless stomp of Jim Crow rule. In the space and spirit of America’s deep Southern gash, at the time of tremendous political and social upheaval, the FST manifested the fears, hopes, dreams, failures, and ideals of an awakening American dream-and-nightmare in dangerous places—precisely, they’d argue, what the theater is for. The theater’s deliberate reflectiveness is what gave it American power—so much so, it would provoke and intimidate the oppressors in the Jim Crow South. This paper assesses the FST’s lifeforce through a prismatic consideration of political and artistic revolutions in the global, national, and regional theater in an effort to understand America’s place in theater.

Undergraduate Winner

Kenya Gadsden

Kenya Gadsden is junior at the College of Charleston with a major in Theatre (Theatre Studies) and a minor in Arts Management. Kenya’s studies focus on stage management. Her recent stage management credits include Rocky Horror Picture Show, We Without Walls, and The Wolves. Kenya’s research interests include diversity in the arts, African American Studies, African American representation, and feminist theatre. Previous honors include a 2017 First-Year Writing Award for her essay “Love and Hip-Hop: The Modern Black Minstrel Show.” Currently, Kenya is the Secretary of Center Stage, a student-run theatre organization at the College of Charleston.

Color-Blind Casting: The Perpetuation of Black Invisibility in American Theatre

This essay argues that color-blind casting practices–the practice of casting actors without considering the actors’ race or ethnicity–are problematic and perpetuate the invisibility of African Americans within American theatre. By denying the presence of a black body onstage, we are denying the sociohistorical baggage that comes with that presence. This essay also argues that color-conscious casting practices are more effective ways of diversifying American theatre, because these practices recognize actors’ races and how the cultural and historical connotations surrounding race changes a production. To discuss the range of problems associated with color-blind casting practices, this essay uses the theories presented in Paul Taylor’s book Black is Beautiful: A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics.


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