Barbara McClintock holds her 1981 Lasker Award and an ear of corn in this Library of Congress photo. Lasker Awards are given for major contributions to medical science. PHOTO COURTESY OF CAROLYN GAGE

Maine Playwrights Festival comes to Southwest Harbor

Barbara McClintock (left) and Harriet Creighton in 1929.

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The Maine Playwrights Festival is bringing a cast of actors from around the state to the American Legion Hall in Southwest Harbor to perform a reading of Carolyn Gage’s latest play, “In McClintock’s Corn,” at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. The reading is sponsored by the Southwest Harbor Public Library. 

The play features gender-non-conforming neurodivergent geneticist Barbara McClintock and her companion/partner Harriet Creighton, and McClintock’s quest to understand diversity in nature through her study of corn. Every scene is set in a cornfield as the play traces the friendship between the women from the Depression to World War II to the Civil Rights Movement to McClintock’s winning of the Nobel Prize in 1983. 

The play has just been named national runner-up for the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, the top feminist play award in the U.S., given by the Women and Theatre Program of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. The Maine Playwrights Festival, under the direction of producer Dan Burson, performed a Zoom reading of the play last year, and this will be the first time that the cast has done it live. The lead roles will be read by actors Tess Van Horn and Phoebe Parker. 

“The online reading last year was brilliant,” Gage said, “and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to see the cast do it live!” 

Carolyn Gage

There will be popcorn and other light refreshments available, along with coffee, tea and sodas. The play reading will have an intermission and a brief, post-show talkback with actors, director and playwright. The reading is free to the public. Masks are required but reservations are not necessary.   

For details and questions, call (207) 244-7065, visit or email [email protected] 


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