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Interdisciplinary student wins national award


Playwrights Guild of Canada honours Sherryl Melnyk.

By Caitlyn Spencer

Sherryl Melnyk, a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, won an award this fall for her play, Millicent’s Pothole. Following two elderly women as they decide to start selling marijuana-laced brownies to their fellow nursing home residents, the play chronicles the complications that follow.

Millicent’s Pothole won first place in the 3rd Annual Playwrights Guild of Canada Post-Secondary Playwriting Competition. Open to full-time students in Canadian institutions, the competition offers $1000 to the first prize playwright, and $750 to the runner up.

“It was so great to win the award,” Melnyk says. “I was amazed and surprised, and I’m grateful that my hard work is beginning to pay off.”

Millicent’s Pothole is in talks to see a possible 2012 production. “A director saw a staged reading of it in Kamloops when I was a finalist in the 2009 BC National Playwriting Competition and liked it,” Melnyk says.

Melnyk has recently finished a short piece called Can’t Cross a Bridge, which deals with the fallout when a mother discovers her husband has sexually abused their daughter. Melnyk is working with supervisor Clem Martini to conduct a study on women’s sexuality, and to write a play about her findings.

“I am attempting to create a synergy between the sciences and the arts to show that we can work together to create meaningful research,” Melnyk says. “Writing the play will make the findings of my research available to the public at large rather than being filed away in a journal that few people have access to or read.”

Melnyk’s research looks specifically at how women overcome experiences such as sexual abuse, molestation, and assault.

“I’m looking at the means that women use to overcome these painful experiences if they choose not to use traditional means such as therapy or counseling,” she explains. “My interviews have revealed that women use a multitude of means to overcome painful experiences.”