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Radio Drama Earns British Council-BBC Honors for Havel Fellow

Seda Stepanyan, regional winner of of the British Council-BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition

Seda Stepanyan, regional winner of of the British Council-BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition

Seda Stepanyan, a Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellow with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), has been named the regional winner for Europe for the British Council/BBC-sponsored 2012 International Radio Playwriting Competition for her radio drama "And The Sun Went On Shining Cynically."

The play centers on a young woman who is devastated when the love of her life disappears, and whose hunt to find him takes her straight into the heart of the Nagorno-Karabakh War. She is led to the battlefront by an officer who shows her a list of war dead that includes her boyfriend's name, but by a twist of fate she is able to see him one last time.

Stepanyan, 21, says she is honored that her portrayal of love and loss is also a spotlight for her native Armenia. "I'm very proud I could represent my country with this play," she says. "Even if it's something small, I'm very happy to bring my country's name to the world."

Her play was chosen from among more than 1,000 scripts submitted to the competition, which is supported by the BBC World Service and the British Council in partnership with Commonwealth Writers. According to contest organizers, the award, now in its 23rd year, provides "a unique opportunity to hear different stories and original voices while showcasing new radio playwriting talent."

Stepanyan has authored several plays, including “Waiting for Death,” which was “commended” in the 2011 International Radio Playwriting Competition, and “Striptiz,” which won a grant from the Open Society Foundations to be staged in her native Yerevan this spring. While still a student at Yerevan State Linguistic University, she won first prize for a script at the 2010 Na/Ne media competition organized by the British Council.

Stepanyan's success on stage is more than matched by her talents as a journalist, which earned her a Havel Fellowship working with RFE/RL's Armenian Service. The Vaclav Havel Journalism Fellowship, launched in February 2012, provides mentoring and professional support at RFE/RL’s local bureaus and Prague headquarters to selected journalists from countries in RFE/RL’s broadcast region where media freedom is stifled and independent journalists are at risk. A joint program of RFE/RL and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, the Havel Fellowship honors the late Czech president's belief in the transformational role of journalism in challenging tyranny.

Commenting on the prize, RFE/RL's Acting President and CEO Kevin Klose said, "Seda's award is wonderful affirmation of her talent for capturing the unique, expressive power of words, both in drama and in real life. It is inspiring that this young woman, chosen as a Havel Fellow for her journalism, continues Mr. Havel's legacy through her plays and keeps his spirit very much alive."