History Matters awards North Central College student with Judith Barlow Prize

  • Gelaine Vestal

    Gelaine Vestal

Updated 4/29/2021 1:55 PM

History Matters: Celebrating Women's Plays of the Past, a New York City nonprofit, has announced the winner for this year's Judith Barlow Prize. The annual prize is awarded to a student playwright for an exceptional one-act play inspired by the work of an historic female playwright. The first-place winner of the prize receives a $2,500 award and a reading of their work along with a $500 award to the participating professor.

North Central College's Gelaine Vestal won for the student's play, "The Shop," inspired by Sophie Treadwell's "Machinal" and sponsored by professor Laura Lodewyck. A reading will be scheduled and announced in the coming months.


The award is named for Judith E. Barlow, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of English and Women's Studies at the University of Albany, SUNY and editor of "Plays By American Women 1900-1930," "Plays By American Women 1930-1960," and "Women Writers of the Provincetown Playhouse." Barlow is also the author of "Final Acts: The Creation of Three Late O'Neill Plays," as well as numerous essays on American drama.

Past recipients of the prize include Leah Barsanti (2020) for "The Almost Emperor of the Unofficial Deestrick of Lake Michigan," inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" and sponsored by professor Roxane Heinze-Bradshaw; Hannah Manikowski (2019) for "earth's most customer-centric company," inspired by María Irene Fornés "Fefu and Her Friends;" Audrey Webb (2018) for "The Only Hills We've Ever Had," inspired by Lorraine Hanberry's "A Raisin in the Sun;" Kara Jobe (2017) for "Leaf," inspired by Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes;" Lindsay Adams (2016) for "Her Own Devices," inspired by Mary Chase's "Harvey;" and Selina Fillinger (2015) for "Three Landings and a Fire Escape," inspired by Sophie Treadwell's "Machinal."

A national coalition of theater professionals with an entirely unique mission, History Matters, formerly known as History Matters/Back to the Future, promotes the study and production of women playwrights of the past and their plays in colleges, universities, and theaters throughout the country and seeks engagement with those plays by contemporary playwrights.

"History Matters performs a vital service to both the academic and theatrical communities," says founder Joan Vail Thorne. "We ensure that masterworks written by women playwrights of the past are routinely read and taught in colleges and universities and that the women who wrote them are held up as significant contributors to the art of playwriting."

History Matters promotes the study and production of women's plays from the past in colleges, universities, and theatres throughout the country. They believe in spreading knowledge about historical women playwrights and in weaving the impact of their work through the fabric of contemporary theatre.

For more information on History Matters or the Judith Barlow Prize, visit www.historymatterscelebratingwomensplaysofthepast.org.

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