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USM Theatre Graduate Student Honored with KCACTF Playwriting Award

Petron BrownThe University of Southern Mississippi’s Theatre program, housed in the School of Visual and Performing Arts, is proud to announce that graduate student Petron Brown received honorable mention in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s (KCACTF) Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Awards. 

The Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Awards, part of the prestigious KCACTF's new play initiative, recognizes outstanding plays written by students of African or Diasporan descent that best express the African American experience.

Brown, a graduate student pursuing his MFA in Performance in the Theatre program from The Bahamas, was selected to receive this award for his play titled The Colour Woman. Brown’s play was selected from among other entries from throughout the United States. Additionally, the play received a partial reading at this past fall's Blaine Quarnstrom Playwright Series here at Southern Miss Theatre.

“Brown is an incredibly talented new playwright who no doubt has a bright future ahead of him. We have had the pleasure of showcasing his work here at Southern Miss Theatre several times and it is unsurprising that others are recognizing his talent,” Dr. David Coley, associate professor of theatre, said in regard to Brown’s outstanding accomplishments. “I can’t wait to see where his writing takes him next."

“I'm very honored to see this play recognized at this level,” Brown stated. “For much of the process, I wondered if anyone would receive the script with the curiosity and open-mindedness that I did. This makes me excited for the future of playwrights with a bit outlandish point of views.”

“In the same breath, I must thank the playwrights who have opened the door for me and have long been experimenting and innovating, whose work I've studied deeply, simply because I felt represented,” added Brown. “I saw myself in their work and hopefully recognitions like this means that I can pay it forward.” 

Brown noted that the women in his family served as an inspiration when writing the play. He continued by saying, “I grew up on an island and observed the very real and raw. Having not been back in a while, I continue to think deeply about the Caribbean spirit… Though fantastical at some moments, it is the very real story of those island women. It dissects the ever-pervasive attraction to whiteness that has been left over in post-colonial societies.” 

In addition to this honor, Brown was recently selected as a finalist in the coveted Irene Ryan Acting Competition at the regional KCACTF Festival.

“This is my second year competing in the finals for the Irene Ryans Acting Competition and it feels like a completely new thing each year. Though it can be quite nerve-wracking, I am always excited at the opportunity to share my love of acting with others,” Brown stated. “In what feels like a sport, I presented a six-minute package consisting of a contemporary and Shakespearean monologue, along with a scene in British dialect. Many thanks to my scene partner, Kevin Theil, who deserves just as much credit.” 

Brown is proud of his work with his first ever full-length play and is looking forward to furthering both his education and skillset with the support of USM’s exceptional Theatre program. 

A full reading of the play will be presented later this semester on campus. Additionally, the play will also be presented as a virtual/hybrid reading at the Lime Arts Production: 20 by 20 Fringe Festival in May.