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State honors for local playwright

Wendy Hedstrom took first place in a play writing contest with her play “Downward Dog.” Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
October 20, 2010 - After writing and performing her first play "Downward Dog" at Clarkston Village Players last June, Wendy Hedstrom decided to enter it into a contest by the Community Theatre Association of Michigan (CTAM).

She won first place.

"I'm thrilled. It's the first play I ever wrote and I'm really proud of it," Hedstrom said. "I'd like to give a shout out to Clarkston Village Players for allowing me to put the show on, giving me a space to do it and promoting it."

The parameters of the contest were: it was open to any playwright living in Michigan and it had to be a full-length play, but no musicals or kid's theatre.

"CTAM is going to keep a copy available for anyone that wants something from Michigan playwrights," she said. "They have a huge library that goes back over 50 years."

As first place, her play will be made available to all community theatres that are apart of CTAM for a year and will be able to produce the show royalty free. She also won $500 in prize money, which she put towards her Macbook, which she purchased to write the play.

"I might have bought a bottle of wine, too," she said with a laugh.

While she was in Cadillac for the annual CTAM conference to receive the award and prize money, she was approached by four theatres that were interested and sounded enthused about reading the script of the play.

"That's the start of getting it out and getting some publicity with it," Hedstrom said. "We'll see if they can work it into their season"

After Sept. 2011 the play will be available to every theatre and she will be able to receive any royalties from that point on. Once the year is over, Hedstrom said she'd like to see the play one more time on.

"Since I was in it the first time, I couldn't see the whole show, but it seemed it went over real well," she said. "But, I'd like to see it one more time, without me in it and see if there is anything else I need to change then after that, send it out for publication."

Hedstrom said she definitely wants to write more and actually started writing a new play after "Downward Dog," but said she has a novel to finish that she began prior to becoming pregnant with her son. She plans to return to the play once the novel is finished.

"The novel is about a woman psychologically trapped between Michigan and California. Some things happened while she was in Michigan, she tried to run a way to California and can't escape them, so she has to go back to deal with them," she said. "It's sort of a comedic horror."

As far as future play ideas, Hedstrom will stick with comedies. She says it's her "bent." However, she has also found after writing the "Downward Dog," having a child, and currently doing a novel her interests and attention are changing quite a bit and she would like move toward things more appropriate for age group, which is early 30's.

"'Downward Dog' was about couple and it was universally themed," she said. "I see the age range for there about 20's to 50's."

Hedstrom likes intertwining personal things with her creative works.

"It seems like when I've written fiction before, which is all I used to ever to do, it was all more atmospheric plot driven," she said. "As a script will allow you to do, it's more about the characters and the immediacy of their interaction. It's really become very appealing to me."

Hedstrom lives in Ortonville with her husband Todd, and her three-year-old son, Cole. Along with writing, she said she still plans on acting.

"I still love acting. I like to imagine 'I won't just write shows I can be in,' but you can't help it because you got to express that. This issue you have is what leads you to write the play, or at least in my case," Hedstrom said. "I found it to be a good enough experience that I want to do it again."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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