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Local writer wins playwriting award

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Clauder Competition names 'One Blue Tarp' Best Maine Play

ORONO Capturing the spirit of a place on the page can be an arduous task. Doing so by writing a play is even more so. 

This makes 'One Blue Tarp,' a play written by Orono resident Travis Baker, even more impressive. Not only has he created a nuanced piece exploring the nature of relationships here in Maine particularly the notion of people 'from away' but he has done so from a smartly skewed perspective that mines equal parts humor and pathos from those relationships.

And this humorous, heartfelt piece has been named the Best Maine Play in the latest installment of the prestigious Clauder Competition.

The Clauder is a playwriting award hosted by Portland Stage Company and open to all New England playwrights. This biennial contest was created in 1981 and has spent the past two decades-plus celebrating the vibrant voices of the region's theatrical artists. A number of noted theatrical careers have been launched with help from the Clauder, Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel among them.

Every two years, an adjudication committee selects a Grand Prize winner. The playwright receives a $2,500 award and the winning play gets a workshop production followed by a full production as part of the PSC season. The Gold Prize winners receive a $600 award plus a workshop production. In addition, the best entry from each state is also recognized.

'I wrote 'One Blue Tarp' at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010,' said Baker. 'I wrote it for the Northern Writes Festival; I really wanted to do a Maine play. After I finished [a draft], I got some friends together during a ski weekend at Sugarloaf and did a reading one night. We did the show at Northern Writes in 2010; I rewrote and expanded some things after that.'

(Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I was the director of the 2010 reading of 'One Blue Tarp' at Northern Writes.)

The seed of the idea for 'One Blue Tarp' sprang from an unexpected source.

'The idea for the play came to me in the fall of 2009,' Baker said. 'I was listening to local sports talk radio. This was when the Maine Red Claws were first coming into being. And Jeff Solari made a joke about how the team should be called the Blue Tarps instead of the Red Claws.'

The folks at Portland Stage weren't the only ones to recognize the quality of 'One Blue Tarp.' The piece was also named a semifinalist for the esteemed Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. In addition, Penobscot Theatre has announced that the play will be a part of its 2013-2014 mainstage season. This marks only the second time that a Northern Writes submission has been granted a full staging at PTC (2012's "Ink" was the first). This world premiere is set to hit the stage in the early part of 2014.

'I entered the competition in March,' Baker said. 'I wasn't notified that I was a winner until mid-January.' He paused. 

'It's a great feeling to win,' he added with a smile.

Last modified on Thursday, 18 April 2013 13:37

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