Staged Readings

Announcing the 2020 Barlow Award-winning one-act play: Leah Barsanti’s “The Almost Emperor of the Unofficial Deestrick of Lake Michigan”

Nora’s Playhouse and our fellow women-in-theatre-focused nonprofit History Matters/Back to the Future are proud to present a staged reading of Leah Barsanti’s Judith Barlow Award-winning play: The Almost Emperor of the Unofficial Deestrick of Lake Michigan this April in NYC.

The Judith Barlow Prize is awarded by History Matters/Back to the The Future annually to a student playwright for an  exceptional one-act play inspired by the work of an historic female playwright. The student winner of the prize receives a $2,500 award and a reading of their work in New York City, with a $500 award to the participating professor of the course in which the inspiring play was taught. Leah Barsanti of Northwestern University was inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and sponsored by Professor Roxane Heinze-Bradshaw.

This is Nora’s Playhouse’s first year collaborating with History Matters/Back to the The Future to produce a reading of the Barlow Award winning piece.

The reading will be held at 7:00pm on Monday, April 20, 2020 at the Episcopal Actors’ Guild (1 East 29th Street, NYC 10016). The reading will be followed by a talkback and a brief wine and cheese reception.

Tickets will soon be available.

The Judith Barlow Prize is named for Judith E. Barlow, Ph.D., a Professor Emeritus of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Albany, SUNY and editor of “Plays By American Women 1900-1930,” “Plays By American Women 1930-1960,” and “Women Writers of the Provincetown Playhouse.” Barlow is also the author of “Final Acts: The Creation of Three Late O’Neill Plays, as well as numerous essays on American Drama. 

Past recipients of the prize include Hannah Manikowski (2019) for earth’s most customer-centric company inspired by María Irene Fornés’s Fefu and Her Friends, Audrey Webb (2018) for The Only Hills We’ve Ever Had inspired by Lorraine Hanberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, Kara Jobe (2017) for Leaf inspired by Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, Lindsay Adams (2016) for Her Own Devices inspired by Mary Chase’s Harvey, and Selina Fillinger (2015) for Three Landings and a Fire Escape inspired by Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal.

A national coalition of theater professionals with an entirely unique mission, History Matters/Back to the Future promotes the study and production of women playwrights of the past and their plays in colleges, universities, and theaters throughout the country and seeks engagement with those plays by contemporary playwrights.

“History Matters/Back to the Future performs a vital service to both the academic and and theatrical communities. We ensure that masterworks written by women playwrights of the past are routinely read and taught in colleges and universities and that the women who wrote them are held up as significant contributors to the art of playwriting.”

History Matters/Back to the Future Founder, Joan Vail Thorne

For more information on History Matters/Back to the Future or the Judith Barlow Prize, visit

Teachers interested in joining the One Play at a Time Initiative should visit

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