Bill Leavengood

This last year we’ve seen a boomlet in works by area playwrights: Sean Sanczel’s The Big Finish, Neal Gobioff and Shawn Paonessa’s March of the Kitefliers, T. Scott Wooten’s Mr. Wooten’s Big Night and Aubrey Hampton’s Christmas Gremlins. But the best work by a local playwright wasn’t produced here at all; it was shown up in New York at the Sanford Meisner Theatre. This was St. Petersburg scribe Bill Leavengood’s Little Mary, about an adolescent virgin who finds herself pregnant with seven fetuses. As a cardinal and an archbishop battle over Mary’s religious status, Leavengood asks us to think about the overpopulation of the earth, and the responsibilities it places on individuals — and religious institutions. Leavengood’s writing is muscular and efficient, and his handling of intellectual debate is impressive. This year, no one else did it better. - Mark E. Leib