Greg Gasawski First Place 2011

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Greg Gasawski has been writing plays for over fifteen years. He has had productions of his full length plays in Los Angeles, New York and London. Greg was also the recipient of the Chesterfield Writer's Film Project where he developed and wrote two original screenplays for Paramount Pictures. Greg also received the John Golden Award for Playwriting while getting his MFA at Columbia University. Greg continues to write both plays and screenplays and, most importantly, loves to write.

Inspiration for 'The Vampire is a Strange and Wonderful Creature'

The Vampire is a Strange and Wonderful Creature is about when bad things happen to people for no apparent reason. It's about the evil that exists in the world and how that evil affects the people that it touches. Sometimes, when someone does something bad, that person says The devil made me do it. It's the same with vampires. In the play, the Vampire says We don't exist. Vampires are invented because people need them to explain all the horrors - both big and little - that happen around them daily. That's why the vampire is a strange and wonderful creature - because the vampire can be used to explain the unexplainable.

Gentleman Vampire

They caught one of us once. The Nazi scientists. They were a clever bunch, the Nazis. There's a rumor floating around that the Nazi scientists got their information on how to catch a vampire from some sort of an off-world civilization, but that sounds like pure fantasy to me. The vampire that they caught was me. Yours, truly. They caught me and they strapped me to a table in a lecture hall. At das Universitat die Heildelberg. The hall was filled with Nazis. All the high-ranking ones were there. Smoking cigarettes and feeling important. It's the same kind of thing that goes on today, except today it's a bunch of people with those telephones that look a little like televisions sitting in trendy restaurants instead of people with the cigarettes in the lecture halls. Different individuals, but the same types of people. Rooms full of fools.

So, back to 1942. All the wichtige Personalichkeit, the bigwig Nazis, were there. The Gauleitern, the Reichsleitern, Himmler was there with the Schutzstaffel. They wanted to do an experiment to see what a vampire could withstand. What kind of pain and suffering and whatnot. They had already tried salt and wooden stakes to no avail. They were really puzzled that all the old myths failed to harm us. What they didn't realize is that we developed defenses to those long ago. Holy water is the only thing we haven't figured out yet. But what was more important to the Nazis than our physical vulnerabilities was our mental power. They really wanted to figure out what made the vampire so different. To use today's parlance, they really wanted to find out what made the vampire tick.

Judge's comments

Great characters revealed through dialogue. In just a few words Greg gets to the heart of a scene and to the heart of the characters and the situation. The play ties together apparently random scenes from across history and geography with the onstage presence of the vampires. The play moves to its very human, very domestic, very chilling end with an inevitability that suggests we are doomed morally as a species. We look outside ourselves for evil, when it lies in our hearts the whole time.