‘On a Whim’: Student’s Novice Effort Nets Literary Award

Myra Diehl had never written a play before taking a directing class at Mary Baldwin, but her first attempt revealed true talent, as she earned third place in the William Faulkner Literary Competition for her one-act play, Rehearsal Report.

Myra Diehl with her award.
Myra Diehl earned third place in the William Faulkner Literary Competition for her one-act play, Rehearsal Report.

The MBU senior traveled recently to Faulkner’s birthplace in New Albany, Mississippi, to receive the award.

“I wrote the first draft of the play within a few weeks and submitted it to the class on a whim, thinking if it wasn’t chosen at least I could say that I had done it,” Diehl said. “I didn’t expect the play to even make it to the top of the pile, but it did, and it was chosen to be produced and performed as one of the plays in [The Play’s the Thing, MBU’s May Term] one-act festival. Getting to watch something that I had created be performed on stage was an incredible feeling. I am mainly an actor, and approach playwrighting from an acting standpoint, so being able to experience being on the other side and seeing my work be performed was surreal.”

On another “total whim,” Diehl entered her work into the Faulkner competition.

“I didn’t expect it to win anything, as they received submissions from professional writers and applicants from all over the world, but I thought it might be a good experience anyway,” she said. “I figured I had nothing to lose, and thought I would regret it if I didn’t give it a shot.”

Rehearsal Report follows a group of actors, their eccentric director, and their stage manager as they navigate the pitfalls of a rehearsal. They struggle with stage slaps, stage kisses, and dropped lines as they try to put the play together in time for its opening night, which eventually leads to the complete mental breakdown of the director.

“The play is comedic, whimsical, and very weird,” Diehl said, “but hopefully a lot of fun to perform as well.”

The Faulkner award came with a certificate, $200, and the honor of having her play performed as part of next year’s award ceremony.

The aspiring actor now sees an expanded future in the arts as a result of the experience.

“I hope to attend graduate school next year for acting, or possibly start looking for jobs as an actor right away,” Diehl said. “I am definitely going to stay in theatre, and will never stop acting, but I will definitely pursue writing from now on as well.”