On May 22, Luke Pound will walk across the Commencement stage and collect his bachelor’s degree in psychology. But he already has a reason to celebrate — earlier this spring, he received the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s National Undergraduate Playwriting Award (Distinguished Achievement) for his full-length play, “Flying Through Windows.”
The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, started in 1969, is a national program involving 20,000 students each year from colleges and universities nationwide. Pound entered “Flying Through Windows” through the Festival’s regional competition, whose judges choose a certain number of full-length plays to advance to the national round. “Flying Through Windows” was one of 200 plays judged at the national level.
As part of his award, Pound was invited to attend the Festival’s national conference and special workshops, and was given a membership to the Dramatists Guild of America.
“Flying Through Windows,” first performed during Clark’s New Play Festival in November, follows high schooler Adam, his best friend, Nate, and the shadow of a girl only Adam can see. The story begins when a bird tries to fly through Adam’s closed window, only to break its neck; that moment seems to carry on day after day until, finally, the cycle is broken.
This is the second of Pound’s plays selected for the Visual and Performing Arts Department’s biennial Playfest. “Elements: A Short Plan Anthology” was performed as part of the 2019 Festival when he was a sophomore. In that work, Pound created six short plays to showcase Aristotle’s six elements of theatre.
“Luke’s a talented writer and I’m not the least bit surprised that he’s getting this recognition,” says Gino DiIorio, director of the Theatre Arts Program at Clark. “Both times we’ve produced Luke’s plays at Clark, it was a joy. I’m really proud of him, and I look forward to seeing him grow as a writer.”
To write “Flying Through Windows,” Pound drew on his own experiences and interactions in high school. “It was inspired by the conversations my friends and I would have and even the language we would use — there are some scenes where the characters discuss not only how they see the world, but also how they talk about it.”
Language is a theme that runs throughout all of Pound’s work at Clark, both in and out of the classroom. As a psychology major, he engaged in courses and research on bilingualism and language education, and presented his honors thesis, “That’s What They Say: Cognitive Dissonance and Grammaticality with Singular They,” as part of ClarkFEST Spring 2022.
Last summer, Pound received a Tamara Gay Walker Award — given to a student completing a summer project in the languages, comparative literature, and the arts — to support his work to translate “Waiting for Godot,” by Samuel Beckett, from the original French into English, and “Much Ado About Nothing,” by William Shakespeare, from English to Spanish.
“My interest in language is both scientific and artistic,” he says.
After graduation, Pound will pursue a master’s in public administration through Clark’s Accelerated Degree Program, and then, because the pandemic prevented him from studying in another country, hopes to earn a fellowship abroad.
And after that?
“If I decide I want to continue with academia, then I will likely pursue a graduate degree in psycholinguistics, while still writing on the side,” he says.
Between psychology and playwriting, he adds, “I have a few paths that I can take.”