UNLV student’s entry wins playwriting award

The reviews of Nakia Oglesby’s play “Click-Boom” may not have been too kind last fall, but the playwright said he was “happy with the production.”

“This was my thesis production,” Oglesby noted in a phone interview. “It’s not like somebody picked up a Tennessee Williams play.”

Oglesby, 31, recently was named the winner of the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award for “Click-Boom.” In 2004, Oglesby was a runner-up for the award with his play “If Sins Be Forgiven.”

“It got some unkind reviews from around town, but it is always nice to be recognized by your peers,” said Oglesby, a master of fine arts candidate in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas playwriting program.

The award is given to the best student-written play on the experience of black Americans.

The play, which tells the story of a photographer returning from Iraq, was performed by UNLV students in November, and entered in the Kennedy Center — American College Theatre Festival.

Oglesby’s inspiration to write “Click-Boom” came after he saw a series of photos in “Newsweek.” The photos, by Chris Hondros, showed an incident where an Iraqi family, including six children, were shot by U.S. military at a checkpoint.

“I wrote the first draft in about three weeks,” Oglesby said.

By winning the award, Oglesby will receive $2,500, an internship to the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn., and a contract with Dramatic Publishing Co. to publish, license and market the play.

Oglesby is looking forward to his internship this summer because it offers “a huge opportunity to work with professional playwrights.”

While he is appreciative of the award, Oglesby is realistic that as a playwright, winning awards “doesn’t really guarantee another production.”

“There’s no guarantee unless you win a Pulitzer,” he said.

Oglesby, who received a degree in computer science at Clemson University, said he began writing “on a whim” and chose the medium of playwriting for its art form.

“The art of telling a story. I feel comfortable working with stage and film,” said Oglesby, who wrote “If Sins Be Forgiven” after taking a drama class that focused on playwriting.

“The fact that I had early success is what kept me in the field initially. Now it is a matter of a love for theater, as well as an unexplainable dynamic that comes from seeing a play come to life onstage,” Oglesby said later in an e-mail.

A third-year graduate student, Oglesby is considering looking for a teaching position after graduation.

“Teaching excites me,” said Oglesby, who taught playwriting and black drama and performances this year at UNLV.

However, Oglesby added, “writing is always going to be my first love.”

If you know of a worthy candidate for this column, mail information to Newsmakers, Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0070, or send faxes to 383-4676.

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