Meet Selina Fillinger


Meet Selina Fillinger. Last year's Barlow Prize recipient.

In 2015, Northwestern University student, Sellina Fillinger was the recipient of The First Annual Judith Barlow Prize for her one-act play Three Landings And a Fire Escape. Inspired by Sophie Treadwell's Machinal, Fillinger's one-act takes place in a Chicago apartment building near the rumbling L train. Three very different women become unlikely friends as they see each other through difficult times and one finds the strength to take matters into her own hands.

1 - Why did you choose to enter the Judith Barlow Prize? 
I wanted the opportunity to dig my teeth into Sophie Treadwell's Machinal, to study it and pick it apart and be able to speak with some expertise about this perfect play. I think part of me felt that if I could just hold it close enough I might become a better writer simply by osmosis.
2 - Talk about hearing your play read in NYC?
It was absolutely surreal. It felt like some kind of wild, wonderful, magical dream. My flight was delayed, so after a long trip I had to go directly from the airport to the theatre: I stumble in with all my luggage minutes before the rehearsal was set to begin--and Kathleen Chalfant is standing in front of the stage waiting for me! Everyone was so kind and congratulatory, and I was completely overwhelmed by their talent, their insight, their wit, their dedication. It was so inspiring to be in a room with such diverse, successful, lady theatre professionals who have found a way to make it—to thrive--as artists. It was literally my childhood dreams coming true.
3 - Who are your favorite playwrights?
Tennessee Williams, Caryl Churchill, Sarah Ruhl, Sam Shepard, Laura Schellhardt, Chekhov, Annie Baker, John Logan, Edward Albee, Shakespeare, Sheila Callaghan, Naomi Wallace, Lucas Hnath, Tarell McCraney, Beth Henley, Julia Cho, Will Eno, Oscar Wilde, Naomi Iizuka, Lisa Kirkwood, Philip Dawkins, Jose Rivera (In no particular order and I'm forgetting many, I'm sure....)
4 - Are you working on any plays currently?
I am writing a three-person play that will receive a reading this May at Northlight Theatre in Chicago. It follows the court case of a white 18 year-old girl from the Chicago suburbs who is arrested for trying to join ISIS, and the young Muslim lawyer who is prosecuting her. The case is fictionalized but based on real court trials.
5 - What are your plans after graduation?
Auditioning and writing and trying to survive! People often ask me if I'm going to be an actress or a playwright: the truth is, I'm not content unless I'm doing both. Sophie Treadwell was a playwright AND a novelist AND a journalist AND a suffragette AND studied acting AND did a brief stint as a vaudeville singer. I'm no Sophie, but if she could do all that in the 20th century, I think I can be an actress and playwright in the 21st!

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