SHU Undergrad Grace Curley Has Play Accepted at Nat'l Conference

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—A play by Sacred Heart University junior Grace Curley ’23, What It Means to Be Polite, has been accepted to the 2022 Mid-America Theatre Conference (MATC), due to take place March 3-6 in Cleveland, OH. Curley is the first SHU student to earn this honor. 

The national, annual conference showcases works by professionals, college faculty and graduate students working toward their master’s degrees in fine arts—making this a rare opportunity for Curley as an undergraduate. She submitted her work to the conference’s 10-minute, dramatist, play lab symposium and was selected through a competitive, blind, peer-review process.

What It Means to Be Polite is a dialogue between two women who talk about their personal experiences as they explore why women feel the need to be polite to men. 

“I’m looking forward to learning more about playwriting from the professionals at the conference and making this particular show the best it can possibly be,” Curley said. “I’m really excited about expanding my knowledge and bringing everything back to the theatre arts program here. 

“My mom has a notebook from my childhood of my stories; for instance, about dogs who go on adventures,” laughed Curley. “Writing has followed me all throughout my life.” She said she also was “always doing theatre and always doing musicals, and I love Broadway.” 

At Sacred Heart, Curley married her two passions as a dual theatre arts and English major. “I wrote my first one-act play for SHU’s TheatreFest during my freshman year and realized it was a combination of two things that I love. It was a wonderful discovery.”

Rachel Bauer, coordinator of academic theatre arts and a lecturer at SHU, as well as co-chair of the MATC symposium that that accepted Curley’s work, encouraged her to submit her play for consideration. “Grace has shown a lot of promise as a playwright, mostly through things like TheatreFest, which is our new-works program,” Bauer said. “She has an interesting and unique voice. When I saw this opportunity come up at MATC, I thought it would be a great experience for her to get feedback from outside the University and expand her sources to help her hone her craft.” 

“Grace’s passion for writing is undeniable. She has a distinctive voice that is funny and deeply observant of human nature,” said Emily Bryan, a lecturer in the department of languages & literature who also encouraged Curley to submit her play. “She writes characters that you feel you have met before. She writes dialogue that is both witty and emotional, a rare quality. If Grace wants to be a professional playwright, she will be, I have no doubt.”

About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 387 Colleges–2022 Edition, “Best Northeastern” and Best Business Schools–2022 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre.

Submitted by Fairfield, CT

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