Ian MacAllister-McDonald ’06, a faculty member of the Theatre Arts Department, has received the Visionary Playwright Award from Theater Masters, an organization dedicated to nurturing, developing, and producing or causing to be produced the work of emerging American playwrights.
MacAllister-McDonald, who in addition to being an LMU alumnus is a lecturer in playwriting in the CFA’s Theatre Arts Department, is commissioned to attend the Aspen Ideas Festival, sponsored by the Aspen Institute, where he will find source material and inspiration for a new full-length play. In addition to that, he will write a 10-minute play that Theatre Master’s may present.
When the topic turns to his students, the importance of mentors is a theme that MacAllister-McDonald is enthusiastic about. “The good ones can teach you what you’re doing wrong, encourage you and open doors for you,” he said. In fact, mentors have played a role as his career has developed.
A mentor started him on his journey to LMU when the president of his Jesuit high school near Portland, Maine, suggested he look into the university. After a year at DeSale University, he transferred to LMU, MacAllister-McDonald and was an English major. By his senior year had taken all the writing courses available except playwriting, so he signed up. The professor of that class, Laurel Olstein, inspired him to pursue the craft. Through her, he met Neil Labute, who became another mentor and teacher, and who is now executive producing MacAllister-McDonald’s first film.
After earning his B.A., MacAllister-McDonald went to Brown University in Rhode Island to earn his M.F.A. His website says: “His plays have been produced or developed by Playwrights Horizon, Soho Rep, Theatre Masters, The Portland Stage Co., The Skylight Theatre Co., The Eagle Project, Moving Arts Theatre Co., The Blank Theatre, The Veritas Ensemble, American Repertory Theatre, The Great Plaines Theatre Conference, American Theatre for Higher Education and The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, among other places.”
He said he believes his connection with his LMU playwriting students is strong. “My experience in the LMU system is that it works and I can point out where it has succeeded.”