Inkslinger “Life on the Moon” coming to a theater near you

Emery Foster practices in her role as an autistic daughter in rehearsal for the 2017 Inkslinger Playwriting Competition winner “Life on the Moon.” Annie Goodman/The Lion's Roar

The 2017 Inkslinger Playwriting Competition winner “Life on the Moon” will be presented as part of the 2017-2018 theatre season.

“Inkslinger is an international playwriting contest and is sponsored by our university, specifically the theatre program,” said Associate Professor of Acting and Directing James Winter. “Several years ago, I received an endowed professorship, and I used that endowment to create this contest. I think this play is the fourth winner, so I guess we’re in our fifth year now.”

Playwright Anna Tatelman is a graduate student at the University of New Orleans from Washington who learned of the competition through a Facebook organization for playwrights she is a part of. 




“I’m honored and very happy and flattered,” said Tatelman. “Chad and James kept me supported throughout the process as I was selected for semifinalist and finalist and eventually won. I’m very grateful and humbled.”

“Life on the Moon” is a play about a family with an autistic daughter who will be played by Emery Foster.

“I had been wanting for a while to try to write a story about a character with disability without making the disability either demonized,” said Tatelman. “There’s also a tendency to kind of go the opposite direction and make the person with the disability into inspiration porn, and essentially, they only exist to uplift the other characters. I wanted to try to see if I could write a character who is a human with a disability and has their own feelings and desires and personality traits. That sort of fused with I had been wanting to write a play about some of the injustices that go on in the military tribunal system.”

Winter, who is directing the play, believes it stands out among the productions for the 2017-2018 theatre season at the university.

“It’s certainly very different this season,” said Winter. “In a season where we’ve had a lot of fantastical things, very lyrical dialogue, this is a very realistic play. It really is sort of like you’re in the living room and dining room with this family spanning a few days around Christmas time. It’s also unpublished. It’s yet to be published. This is by a young emerging writer. Our hope is after we produce this, maybe she’ll be able to get published.”

Tatelman hopes to create an awareness with the production of her play.

“I’d like them to have a greater awareness both of what life is like for people with disabilities and their loved ones as well as some of the more intricate problems within the military system,” said Tatelman. “I think we’re just beginning culturally to talk about some of the issues the play rises but not specifically within such an enclosed system and some of the additional challenges that are presented there.”

Winter feels the play is more relatable than ever with the rise in autism diagnoses in recent years.

“I think this play is gonna resonate with a lot of people,” said Winter. “In the last quarter of a century, the percentage of people with autism has dramatically increased. I think that you would find in any classroom, or any rehearsal process, that you’re probably looking at 20 to 25 percent of the people in the room that know someone on the spectrum. I think this is a very rare, accurate portrayal of what its like, and I think audiences are gonna get a lot out of that.”