Secretary's first play wins competition


Monalisa DeGross, a secretary in the Office of Children and Youth at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, has won the ninth annual Drama Competition for Black Writers sponsored by WMAR-TV (Channel 2) and Arena Players.

"This is a banner year," exclaimed Ms. DeGross, 40, referring not only to her award-winning play, "A Relative Stranger," but also to the upcoming publication of her first children's book, "Donovan's Word Jar," due out this fall from Harper/Collins Inc.

A first play-writing effort, "A Relative Stranger" is set in Baltimore in 1955 and focuses on a woman who "has escaped from a very bad past and is about to be married into the black upper middle class" when she is unexpectedly confronted by the daughter she abandoned at birth, the playwright explains.

A graduate of Eastern High School who attends the Weekend College at Notre Dame College, Ms. DeGross developed "A Relative Stranger" from an unpublished novel she wrote several years ago. She completed the script in just three weeks to meet the contest deadline.

Ms. DeGross' prize consists of $1,000 and the opportunity to assist in the production of her hour-long play, which will be co-produced by Arena Players and broadcast on WMAR Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. and again on March 10 at noon.

Winner of second place and $500 was Stephen F. Green for "Tapered in Black"; third place and $250 went to H. B. Johnson Jr. for "In the Blink of an Eye"; and B. L. Williams won an honorable mention for "Senator Sir." All of the prize winners are residents of Baltimore. Their scripts were selected from nearly 75 submissions, one of the largest entries in the contest's history.

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