Saint Martin’s senior is semi-finalist in Kennedy Center playwrights’ contest

February 8, 2012

Lacey, Washington — A short play by Saint Martin’s theater student Jackie Nordquist ‘12 has been selected as a semi-finalist in the Kennedy Center American Theater Festival’s (KCACTF) national ten-minute play contest. The comedy, “Cherry Flavored Chemistry,” is one of six chosen from among more than seventy entries from the northwest region. As a semifinalist, Nordquist will attend the regional KCACTF festival in Fort Collins, Col., Feb. 13-17, where she will work with a mentor to cast and produce a staged reading of the play using student actors.

Nordquist says the inspiration for her play came from the combination of a playwriting class assignment and an odd comment someone made at a party. “Someone said something about ‘cherry-flavored chemistry,’” she recalls. “I knew that I was going to write a play based on that phrase. I created a story about two college chemistry majors who secretly have a thing for each other. It’s a case where opposites attract and the nerd prevails.”

The young playwright, as a former chemistry major, wrote about characters she knew. Nordquist says the play went through ten drafts with the help of suggestions from theater professor David Hlavsa, Ph. D. and chemistry professor Arwyn Smalley, Ph.D.

“I could see this piece was going to work right from the first draft,” Hlavsa says. “It’s a credit to Jackie, though, not just that she came up with the idea, but that she persisted – you can almost never nail a theatrical idea on the first go. It takes writing and more re-writing.”

Winners selected at regional theater festivals are flown to the annual noncompetitive national festival at the Kennedy Center with all expenses paid and are provided a membership in the Dramatists’ Guild. The winner of the contest receives a thousand dollar award.

The goals of the KCACTF are to encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs. It is a year-round program with funding and administrative support from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The Northwest Region, one of eight in the nation, includes Alaska, northern California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

David Hlavsa, Ph.D.
Theater department

Sarah Holdener
Director of community relations and event management
Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University