Young Scholars 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 the scholarly exploration of issues concerning all types of theatre presentations. 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.


Please contact:

Sarah McCarroll
Young Scholars Award Chair 

  • Deadline for submission: Monday, December 14, 2020, 5 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Winners will be notified by Monday, January 11, 2021.
  • 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.
  • Papers should be sent as attached Microsoft Word documents.
  • In order for their papers to be considered, students must be enrolled in an academic program as of November 15, 2020.
  • One graduate and one undergraduate paper will be chosen for presentation at the 2021 SETC Convention, March 3 – 6, 2021 in Memphis, TN, or via virtual presentation to accommodate COVID-19-related travel restrictions.
  • Winners must present their paper 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.
  • Cash Prize
  • Free 2021 SETC Convention Registration
  • Free SETC Membership for One Year
  • Ticket to the Friday Lunch During the 2021 Convention, if the in-person event is held.
  • 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.

Previous Winners

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

Bio: 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

Bio: 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.