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Vol.25, No. 19 Apr. 7, 2000

Eric Waldemar's SOA Theater Thesis Wins National Playwriting Award

In Walks Mem'ry, a full-length play written by Eric C. Waldemar Jr. as his MFA thesis in the School of the Arts, has been selected the 1999 National Play Award Winner by the National Repertory Theatre Foundation.

Chosen among 200 submissions from across the nation along with international entries, the play has received a $5,000 cash prize.

Waldemar, in his fourth and final year of the graduate playwriting program, describes In Walks Mem'ry, which centers around a black man and the homecoming of his sister, as a "black family drama that has components of magic realism."

His distinctive playwriting voice was cultivated in the School of the Arts.

"One of the main things I learned at Columbia," Waldemar explains, "is that I have no obligation to any particular group or person—I wrote what I thought was true, from the heart."

Eduardo Machado, professor and head of the graduate playwriting program at Columbia, has had a strong influence on Waldemar. Waldemar says of his teacher: "He has an unshakable conviction about playwriting and he makes sure that only those who have an unwavering reason for writing go through the program."

Machado said of Waldemar, "Eric was always willful, stubborn and talented. But I knew he was listening. Teaching him was a challenge that ended with the wonderful creation of his play. He is sure of himself and doubts himself at the same time—the essential ingredients for a writer."