Another Triumph for Molly Smith Metzler (English ’00)

Dramatist and Geneseo English alum Molly Smith Metzler, who launched her playwriting career in Geneseo’s Black Box Theater, has had a play selected for main stage production in the 2011 Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky. Metzler’s Elemeno Pea was one of six plays selected from over 1,000 entries for the country’s largest and most prestigious competition for new plays and emerging playwrights. The play will open March 8, 2011 at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Quoted in the Louisville Courier-Journal, Marc Masterson, Artistic Director of the Humana Festival, said that Metzler’s play has “the potential … to be a break-out production both for Metzler and for the festival. It’s funny, it’s socially aware and the character work is extraordinarily confident and full. … You would not think this was written by an early-career playwright. It’s so confident and self-assured and fully-rendered.”

Since graduating from Geneseo, Metzler has fashioned an impressive career. In 2003, a revision of her original Geneseo play, Training Wisteria, won the Kennedy Center’s Best New Play Award in the National Student Playwriting Contest, the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award, and the Mark Twain Comedy Playwriting Award. Her play Carve was produced in London’s Tristan Bates Theatre. Close Up Space was produced this past summer at the O’Neill Theatre Center in Connecticut, the artistic “birthplace” of Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s early major works as well as premieres of major plays by Wendy Wasserstein and John Guare, among others.

Geneseo English major wins prestigious Dante Prize

The Dante Society of America has awarded its annual Dante Prize for the “best essay submitted by an undergraduate in any American or Canadian college or university” to William Porter, a junior English major at SUNY Geneseo and a participant in Geneseo’s Edgar Fellows program.

Porter’s winning essay, entitled “‘L’arco de lo essilio’: The Nexus of History, Pilgrimage, and Prophecy in the Heaven of Mars,” is, in Porter’s words, “about the nature and significance of exile” in the Divine Comedy — in particular, “how Dante’s own exile can be transformed into spiritual pilgrimage, shown through the prophecy of his great-great-grandfather Cacciaguida in Cantos 15-17 of Paradiso, or the Heaven of Mars.”

Porter is the second SUNY Geneseo student in the last five years to win the Dante Prize. In 2006, the prize was shared between Lisa Caruana, for her essay “The Dynamic Motion of Paradise,” and John Davies, a student at Harvard College, for his essay “Purgatorio Petroso : The Rime in the Purgatorio.” Prize winners in other years have submitted their essays from undergraduate programs at Princeton, Duke, Berkeley, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Northwestern, Bowdoin, Duke, and Brigham Young.

The Dante Prize is “meant as a sign of encouragement for those younger scholars on whose contributions the future of Dante studies in America will depend,” according to Vincent Pollina, Secretary-Treasurer of the Dante Society of America, who signed for the Prize Committee in his letter to Porter this fall.