Tenure-Track Playwriting Position Created

Camille Pfister

Arts and Entertainment Editor

The English, creative writing, and theater departments at Sewanee are in the process of looking for a tenure-track assistant professor of playwriting. For the past ten years, Sewanee has had Visiting Professor of English and Playwright in Residence, Elyzabeth Wilder, teach the playwriting classes on Sewanee’s campus, and now Sewanee wishes to expand the program and make the playwriting professorship a  permanent position. 

The departments are having three candidates come interview for the position, including Wilder, over the next week. Each candidate will be asked to lead a model playwriting class, open to students and faculty, and do a reading of their work, open to all. 

Wilder’s model class and reading took place this past Thursday, March 23. During her mock class, Wilder led her students on a lesson of dialogue and style, which included structure lessons, students reading from different plays, discussion on what dialogue tells us, and a short writing exercise. During the reading of her work, Wilder took audience members through a walkthrough of a few of her plays, including Everything That’s Beautiful, Zelda in the Backyard, and A Requiem for August Moon. Wilder also answered questions and explained how theater has impacted her life. “I think for me, theater is communal, like going to church, or sharing a meal,” Wilder said. 

The next two candidates that will come in to interview are Darcy Parker Bruce, and Krista Knight. Bruce hails from New Haven, CT, and earned their MFA in playwriting from Smith College. They staff the Sewanee’s Writers Conference, and have earned the Tennessee Williams Scholarship. They have also won ATHE’s 2018 Judith Royer Award for their play, THE SOLDIER POET. Their model class and reading will be on March 29, check your email for specific times leading up to the day. 

Knight earned her MFA in playwriting from UC San Diego, and was a  Juilliard School Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program Fellow. Knight currently teaches playwriting and screenwriting at Vanderbilt University. She has written plays, such as CRUSH, LIPSTICK LOBOTOMY, and PRIMAL PLAY. Her model class and reading will be on March 30, check your email for specific times leading up to the day. 

The importance of this process comes from the fact that Sewanee is currently trying to expand their creative writing department, and making this position permanent will allow them to do so. The class of 2023 will have the first students graduating with a major in creative writing from the University. When students choose a creative writing major, they must declare a speciality, that being poetry, fiction, or playwriting. There is currently only one student with a declared playwriting major, but if this position is created, the program could expand, and more students might feel called to this major. 

It is amazing that the professors in all three departments involved in this decision are asking for student’s involvement and input. If you have the time, come see the remaining candidates and offer feedback on their model classes.

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