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Tyler Whidden

Tyler JC Whidden, a third-year student pursuing an MFA in playwriting, has been named the Anthony Trisolini Fellow for the 2015-16 school year.

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OHIO graduate student and playwright named Trisolini Fellow


An Ohio University graduate student in the Theater Division’s playwriting program has been awarded the Trisolini Fellowship.

Tyler JC Whidden, a third-year student pursuing an MFA in playwriting, was named the Anthony Trisolini Fellow for the 2015-16 school year. The annual Anthony Trisolini Graduate Fellowship is one of OHIO’s five “Named Fellowships,” which recognize meritorious students and offer a stipend, plus a year of full tuition.

Whidden, whose proposed thesis play was selected for funding, gave credit to his peers and what he described as a team-oriented playwriting program.

“There’s no way I would have gotten that without them,” he said. “So I’m happy that it also benefits the program.”

“Occupation: Dad” will explore what it means to be a father in a world where an increasing number of men are filling the role of caregiver for their children, Whidden said. In his project plan, Whidden described the play as “like James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ (but with slightly less drinking).”

Whidden, who has a 3-year-old son, said the idea for the play originated from his own experiences as a father and from noticing the challenges, including a certain social stigma, that stay-at-home dads face. He is interested in exploring the theme of masculinity and how changes in the family dynamic could affect future generations.

“I think we’re always redefining our gender roles,” Whidden said. “I grew up with a professional hockey player as a father—you don’t get much manlier than that in my world.”

A Cleveland native, Whidden earned his BFA in playwriting at Ohio University and an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. His play “Dancing with N.E.D.” was produced in Cleveland in 2012.

Whidden, who also spent time working as a stand-up-comic, said comedy is often featured in his work. He likened the process of playwriting to telling a joke, in which everything feeds into the major dramatic question (just as the parts of a joke are directed at the punch line).

“The great thing about comedy is you can’t be afraid to fail,” Whidden said. “That’s helped me a lot in playwriting.”

Honoring important leaders from the University’s past, the Named Fellowships also include the John Cady Graduate Fellowship, Donald Clippinger Graduate Fellowship, Claude Kantner Graduate Fellowship, and the Graduate College Fellowship. Schools and departments may nominate one graduate student for the fellowships, which are funded and managed by the Ohio University Graduate College.