The cover of The Opera Issue of The Dramatist
North and South Carolina: Rising to the Occasion
Red banner reading NORTH CAROLINA

While contending with her failing health due to lupus, southern writer Flannery O’Connor wrote, “I can, with eyes squinted, take it all as a blessing.” This sentiment quintessentially represents the spirit of resilience and optimism of the playwrights in North and South Carolina. After a year and a half of collective agony over public and personal health due to COVID-19, the playwrights of the Carolinas have persevered in their creativity. Additionally, producing organizations and theatre companies discovered opportunities to present new works in ways that adjusted to public health needs. 

Dramatists Guild affiliate and North Carolina producing company Sips & Scripts, along with Capital Arts Theater Guild, launched their first annual new works festival on the weekends of September 3-5 and September 11-12 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The festival featured new plays by five North Carolina dramatists. Many of these plays were new works by Dramatists Guild members, including Adrienne Earle Pender's Kaleidoscope; Judy M. Dove's Haiku; Marilynn Barner Anselmi’s Mitigating Damages; and Tamara Kissane’s Nice White Parents. Sips & Scripts founder and director Yvette Holder said, “We have so many great artists in the Carolinas, so it is an honor to help create platforms for their work to develop further.”  The plays were reviewed by several esteemed panelists including Dramatists Guild Council member Jeffrey Sweet and me. 

South Carolina Dramatists Guild members are also availing themselves of opportunities for world premieres of their work. Paddy Bell’s One Life: Dogs the Musical will run October 22-24 at the Arts Center of Kershaw County in Camden, South Carolina. This debut comes after a postponement of several months due to Covid restrictions. Clifton Campbell will premiere his Honoria Quietly Drawing Strength from Her Truth at PURE Theatre in the Spring of 2022 in Charleston, South Carolina. Other companies like Florence’s Flo-Town Wisdom Players are planning early by commissioning new works for their Fall 2022 season. Flo-Town Wisdom Players’ Artistic Director Brenda Brown stated, “We are lucky to have leadership that pushes Carolina playwrights to make new pieces, and companies like ours want to support that work.”

Within the next quarter, the region will resume hosting DG Footlights events virtually. North Carolina Ambassador Erica McGee expressed excitement for upcoming happenings in the region. “We are also hoping to continue our efforts of community building among our playwrights through holding regional meetings quarterly,” she stated. These efforts will prove invaluable as the region transitions to new leadership after elections. 

Like Flannery O’Connor’s burden of creating while dealing with a health crisis, dramatists in the Carolinas have had to create and debut their work in a period of profound concern over their collective and personal survival.  Despite these bleak circumstances, these artists found ways to rise to the occasion and bring truth and beauty to a world that has been turned on its head. They have been able to look ahead to better days even if it has been with “eyes squinted.”

Triza Cox

is a playwright, screenwriter, and theatre artist. Her original plays include A Last SupperMeritocracy The Willing, God in the Midst of it All, and Lil’ Bard. Triza is proud to serve as the South Carolina Ambassador for The Dramatists Guild.