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Stanley Drama Award names winner

    The Wagner College Theatre has named Karen L. Lewis, a multiple Emmy and Writers Guild award-winning television writer, the winner of the 2012 Stanley Drama Award for her play, “The Perfect Wife.”
    Lewis makes her home in Saranac Lake, N.Y. and New York City.
    Two finalists in the 2012 competition were also announced: Stephen Wylie for “Cages in Space,” and Richard Manley for “Life is Mostly Straws.”
    Since 1957, the Stanley Drama Award has been given by the Wagner College Theatre, consistently listed among the top 20 collegiate theater programs in the country in the annual Princeton Review rankings.
    This year’s Stanley Drama Award ceremony will be held on Monday, March 5 at 6 p.m. at The Players, 16 Gramercy Park South (20th Street), Manhattan.

About the Stanley Drama Award
    The Stanley Drama Award was established in 1957 by Staten Island philanthropist Alma Guyon Timolat Stanley and endowed through the Stanley-Timolat Foundation. The national Stanley Award competition is administered by the Wagner College Theatre program.
    The Stanley Drama Award has a long and distinguished history. Past winners include Terrence McNally’s “This Side of the Door” (aka “Things That Go Bump in the Night”), Lonne Elder III’s “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men,” and Jonathan Larson’s “Rent.” Among those judging for the Stanley Award have been playwrights Edward Albee and Paul Zindel, actresses Geraldine Page and Kim Stanley, and TV producer/pioneer talk-show host David Susskind.
    For more information about the Stanley Drama Award program, call Betty McComiskey at 718-420-4014, or e-mail her at

2012 Stanley Drama Award winner:
Karen L. Lewis’s ‘The Perfect Wife’
    To what lengths would you go to preserve a love based on delusion?
    Paul and “Natalie” appear to share an ideal May/December marriage until Paul’s daughter, Sarah, unmasks their relationship as a sham. “Natalie” is actually Paul’s other daughter, Kathy, cast in the role of Paul’s wife by his worsening dementia.
    Kathy has managed to avoid sharing Paul’s bed. But when Sarah’s attempt to drive a wedge between them backfires, Kathy is forced to make a choice that preserves his dignity and his illusion of her as the perfect wife.
    Karen L. Lewis began her creative life as an actress, becoming a playwright at the suggestion of pen pal Ginger Rogers.
    She won the Mary Roberts Rinehart Grant, currently administered by the Graduate Creative Writing Program at George Mason University, to complete a work-in-progress, “Ezili.” Lewis’s play, “Behind a Mask; or, A Woman’s Face,” based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, was staged Off Off Broadway at Jean Erdman and Joseph Campbell’s Theater of the Open Eye in 1983. More recently, her Stanley Award-winning play, “The Perfect Wife,” was also selected as a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theatre’s National Playwrights Conference.
    “A stretch of employment writing for soap operas [including “All My Children” and “As the World Turns”] brought me five Emmys and three Writers Guild Awards,” Lewis says. “None of these means as much to me as winning the Stanley Drama Award for ‘The Perfect Wife’.”

2012 Stanley Drama Award finalist:
Stephen Wylie’s ‘Cages in Space’
    After years away trying to make it as a rock musician, Tyke returns home in search of a more settled life. He’s determined to leave his failed music career behind and especially to forget Monica, his quixotic, unstable ex-girlfriend and the singer he’s been involved with for many years. When Monica tracks him down to rekindle their relationship, she surrenders her wild side. But it doesn’t take long before old habits resurface and Tyke’s aspirations for happiness are tested. Set in a dying mill town where the main employer is the state prison and inspiration comes through the ether of talk radio, “Cages in Space” asks if it’s possible to find contentment by returning to your roots.
    Stephen Wylie was born in 1957 in Pittsburgh, Pa., and has lived in New York City since 1982. His play, “Rude Times,” was produced Off Broadway at the American Place Theatre and regionally at the Chocolate Bayou Theater Company in Houston. His play, “Skaters,” was produced at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. Wylie is the winner of the Norman Lear Comedy Award and has participated in developmental programs at the Preston Jones New Plays Symposium, the Shenandoah International Playwrights Retreat and the Yellow Springs Fellowship for the Arts. He holds an M.F.A from the University of Iowa’s Playwrights Workshop and a B.A. from Allegheny College.

2012 Stanley Drama Award finalist:
Richard Manley’s ‘Life is Mostly Straws’
    David and Noah are brothers who shared a troubled childhood, during which they relied upon each other for survival. As adults, David went into business and made a great deal of money; Noah chose academia, becoming a professor of literature and a published poet.
    Although successful by all outward signs and still very close, the fear and self-doubt of their early days lie just beneath the surface of their apparent confidence. They have made words their weapon of choice, and “Life is Mostly Straws” is a literate play, where one character uses language like a scalpel while the other wields it like a bludgeon, but each understands its power.
    The event on which the drama turns is David’s chance discovery and misinterpretation of love poems that his wife Joanna has written, which he finds while alone in Noah’s apartment. Random coincidence fuels imagined fears, which escalate quickly into a confrontation that threatens to destroy everything the brothers consider sacred.
    “Betrayal trumps pity,” David says early on in the first act to justify a financial retaliation. Noah repeats the line back to David at the end of the play as the deepest insecurities of each rise from shallow graves to attack.
    Richard Manley lives in New York City. After two decades of success as a copywriter and advertising executive, Richard Manley started a second career writing stage plays, which he has been doing full time for the past 4 years. Pulling from many years’ worth of personal journals, he rediscovered his passion for the sound of the language and its potential to entertain, provoke and inspire. When he returned to the States from a sabbatical in Paris 4 years ago, he sold his business and structured a lifestyle that would allow him to write stage plays full time. In addition to “Straws,” Manley’s recent output includes:

  • “Quietus,” scheduled for a rehearsed reading this month by the Playwrights and Directors Unit of the Actors Studio
  • “This Rough Magic,” workshopped in November by New York’s Colt Coeur Studio
  • “Apparently Not,” a 10-minute play that was part of last year’s “Scenes from the Staten Island Ferry,” staged by the Staten Island’s Sundog Theatre
  • “Matches,” staged in January 2009 at the Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre in Wheeling, W.Va.


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