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The Odyssey of Tyrell James  wins the 2024 Louise Wigglesworth Excellence in Playwriting Award.

FORT MYERS, FL (April 29, 2024) – The Odyssey of Tyrell James by LaDarrion Williams has won The 2024  Laboratory Theater of Florida’s Louise Wigglesworth Excellence in Playwriting Award. Two additional plays are finalists: Mixed Messages by Evan Edwards and The Kindness of Strangers by Dan Borengasser. Concert readings of these three works will be held on May 16, 17, and 18 at 7:30 pm.

About the plays

The Winner: The Odyssey of Tyrell James by LaDarrion Williams: Tyrell James is one of those hard-headed kids who ain’t got no business doing what he’s doing. Into the gang life on the harsh streets of Memphis, Tennessee, he’s on the verge of losing himself. For him, this is the only way to survive. Before he screws up his life even further and continues down the wrong path, he is mysteriously snatched back to an 1800s antebellum plantation, and he is forced into learning the hardships of slavery, past mistakes, and valuable life lessons that will set him back on the right path that he was destined for all along.”

LaDarrion Williams hails from the small town of Helena, Alabama. LaDarrion Williams is a self-taught playwright, filmmaker, author, and screenwriter whose goal is to cultivate a new era of Black fantasy, providing space and agency for Black characters and stories in a new, fresh, and fantastical way. As a playwright, his first play, Katrina, won first place at the Alabama State Thespian Conference. Black Creek Risin’ was a part of the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. His play, Coco Queens, was invited to participate in the 2019 Sundance Institute’s Playwriting Intensive and will be receiving its World Premiere at Playhouse on the Square in July 2024. His plays also received semi-finalist recognition from the Eugene O’Neill National Playwriting Conference. He is a 2x finalist for the National Black Theatre I AM SOUL Playwriting Fellowship, David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artist Theatre Grant, and the American Blues 2023 Blue Ink Award. He is also an alum of the Echo Theatre Playwrights Lab and the Boise Contemporary Theater BIPOC Playwrights Festival. His Jeff Award-nominated play Boulevard of Bold Dreams (a story about Hattie McDaniel’s historic Oscar win) was a part of the New Works Festival at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica, California. It received a world premiere production at the TimeLine Theatre Company in Chicago and an East Coast Premiere at Greater Boston Stage Company in March 2023. It was a part of the Orlando Shakes Theater Signature Series in Fall 2023 and will be produced at subsequent theaters nationwide in 2024-2025. In his filmmaking bag, LaDarrion has curated three short films on YouTube. As a debut author, his Young Adult Blood at the Root was acquired in a competitive auction from Labyrinth Road, an imprint of Penguin Random House, and will debut in the Summer of 2024.

Finalist: The Kindness of Strangers by Dan Borengasser. Synopsis: Darin Fisher,  claiming to be an MFA grad student, arrives to produce and direct a Shakespearean play, The Tempest, at Swann Health and Rehab, an independent living facility for elderly actors.  Actually, he’s an undercover cop, sent to Swann to investigate a series of suspicious deaths.  What he discovers is both unsettling and career-ending.

Dan Borengasser

Many of my plays have been produced or have received staged readings.  A number of plays – including [email protected], The Canterbury Tales Revisited, and Sense & Insensibility – have been published.  My plays have been produced in theaters across the country, from New York to Los Angeles, as well as in Canada, Mexico, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.  Several short screenplays have been produced, as well as a feature length film I helped write, titled The Donor Conspiracy.  A number of radio plays have been produced and broadcast nationally.

Finalist: Mixed Messages by Evan Edwards. A multi-racial mother’s helicopter parenting has wreaked

havoc for her children in their adult lives: her religious oldest son is in a sham of a marriage, her gay middle son is keeping his racist fiancé on the D.L., and her fun-loving youngest, well…bless his heart. The manipulating matriarch summons all three of her boys home to the family estate. There, with the help of the faithful family butler, a wanton wife, and a not invited-invited guest, mama schemes to covertly fix everything before brunch.

Evan Edwards is a multi-hyphenate member of Actors Equity, the Dramatists Guild, and AGVA. As Steven Hamilton, he earned a BA in English/Theatre (Niagara University). His play Members of the Choir was nominated for Best New Off-Off-Broadway show, Best Direction, and three Best Actor nods, and received the New York Foundation for the Arts grant and the Broadway Inclusion Project grant. His full-length book musical McGurk’s Suicide Hall: a fictional account of actual events won the Great Performances Fellowship Award and the Playlight Featured Musical Award. Mixed Messages, his full-length farce, was recently read at the Valdez Theatre Conference, AK. Stand Naked in the River of Shame (short version) had a virtual reading at Almost Adults Theatre Company LGBTQ+ Short Play Series, NM, workshopped off-off Broadway at the Chain Theatre’s One Act Festival Don’t Call it a Come Back and filmed for the New Ambassadors Theatre Company, NYC; Ready for my Close-up premiered at London England’s AAUK E-plays. Falling was in the Blurring Boundaries Festival, NYC, and was highlighted at the WildFlower Theatre virtual Opening Night Gala; Truncation had a staged reading at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, AK. Two of Evan’s monologues, “Tonsil Hockey with the Help” and “Independent Thinking” were featured at Prince William Sound College Monologue Workshop. Other monologues: “Well Hello, Happy” was performed at the Valdez Theatre Conference, “Just in Case”, was performed at Fade to Black’s The Flow: A Monologue Series, TX, and published in the PlayGround Experiments’ Faces of America volume 3 monologue book.

Louise Wigglesworth is a theater and visual artist who writes plays about other artists; actors, painters, musicians, writers, and their special journeys. In her current full-length project, Beautiful Island, she explores the science fiction/fantasy genre. Previous productions include Real Art as part of City Theatre of Miami’s Summer Shorts and Island Shorts, Real Art and Anywhere from Here by Manhattan’s Theatre of Light, Coercion by Playwrights Round Table, Seasonal Migrations at Foundation Theater, and Drawing the Human Form at Cultural Park Theatre. Her stage adaptation of Albert Camus’ The Plague premiered at The Laboratory Theater of Florida. A Proper Goodbye in the Shade of Old Trees and No Bad Dance enjoyed public readings at Theatre Conspiracy

and The Migrant’s House was selected for a workshop and performance at The Laboratory

Theater. One acts Second Movement, Anywhere From Here, Penumbra alon. with Real Art, were winners in the Naples Players annual competitions. Recently Lemon Twist was a finalist in Bonita Springs Art Center’s Stage It! Festival, and will be published in its anthology. Louise’s youth plays Seeing Red, Tides, and In My Brother’s Name have had productions in schools and children’s theater groups. She has received grants from The American Association of University Women to support development of high school students’ work and was the teaching artist for playwriting in The Rauschenberg Project at Laboratory Theater. Louise is a member of The Dramatists Guild. Her plays are available to view on the New Play Exchange.

Performance dates are:

May 16th at 7:30 pm – The Kindness of Strangers by Dan Borengasser (finalist)

May 17th at 7:30 pm – Mixed Messages by Evan Edwards (finalist)

May 18th at 7:30 pm – The  Odyssey of Tyrell James by LaDarrion Williams (winner)

Tickets are $10 each for students and $15 for adults. Additionally, a pass for all three readings is $35. This event is included in all Season 15 Passes. For tickets, guests may call the box office at 239.218.0481 or go online at



The Laboratory Theater of Florida, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is dedicated to the promotion of the performing arts, through live performance, education, community outreach, experimentation, and the development of ensemble work. The company features ensemble productions, produces classic works, takes artistic risks, which both feature and challenge local performers. For more information visit or the physical location at 1634 Woodford Avenue, in the Fort Myers River District.

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