VERMILLION, S.D. – For her one-act play titled "Sunspots," Sarah Meirose, a University of South Dakota M.A. English student, has received the Wayne S. & Esther M. Knutson English Scholarship and Award for Playwriting.
Meirose, whose main areas of interest include early 20th-century literature, narrative theory, and performance studies, said she wanted to address issues such as physical trauma, toxic couples, and “the lover’s duty/obligation to stay in love” with her work.
The play centers on a young couple’s relationship in the aftermath of a shared physical trauma, with dialogue that suggests the boyfriend, Ryan, is possessive and obsessive. After a car accident caused by Ryan’s distracted driving causes his girlfriend Aria to suffer a head injury and retinal detachment, the play comes to a dark end.
“As the play continues, Aria undergoes a series of procedures to repair the damage to her eyes; Ryan, guilty, punishes himself by staring into the sun as he waits for her outside the hospital,” Meirose said. “By the end, their circumstances have reversed: Aria has fully recovered, and Ryan has blinded himself.”
Meirose said the one-act play took her about five months and several rounds of polishing to finish.
“The writing process began slowly as I tried to pin down how I wanted these problems to be embodied—that’s the work of the playwright, I think. To identify a problem, bring it to life in a body, and work through the problem right in front of the audience,” she said.
While the play was never written with the intention of being submitted for the scholarship award, Meirose said she’s incredibly thankful for the financial assistance it provides her as she continues her studies.
“The Wayne S. & Esther M. Knutson English Scholarship and Award for Playwriting is a tremendously generous award of $400,” she said. “I am deeply grateful to be a recipient of this award, and I am truly moved by the generosity of the donors who make scholarship opportunities like this possible for students at USD.”