American Blues Theater, Chicago’s second oldest Equity Ensemble, under the continued leadership of Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside, has named Benjamin Benne, was selected from a pool 752 submissions. As part of the award, Benne receives a $1,250 cash prize and the opportunity to further develop his script with American Blues Theater.
“As the son of a Latin American immigrant, I couldn’t think of focusing on writing any other story post-election,” said Benjamin Benne. “It is deeply meaningful that American Blues Theater has elected to recognize this play–about the US as a place of opportunity/oppression that also explores current US immigration law and exposes the injustice of borders, while breathing joy, pain, hope, and uncertainty into an intimate relationship between two humans (who are actively being dehumanized by the current US administration)–with the Blue Ink Playwriting Award. I’d also like to thank some key collaborators who contributed to this play’s development, dramaturgy, and Spanish translations: Catherine Rodriguez, Elena Araoz, Marcela Lorca, and Ana Maria Campoy. As well as acknowledge the play’s development support by The Playwrights’ Center, the Jerome Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Theatre Battery, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference.”
“We’re honored to announce Benjamin Benne’s script as the 2019 winner,” notes Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside. “Ben is an important and profound voice in American theater. His work is full of rich characters and truth that capture humanity beautifully. We’re thrilled to further develop Alma (or #nowall) with Ben.”
Alma (or #nowall) synopsis – Working mom Alma has single-handedly raised her daughter, Angel, on tough love, home-cooked comida, and lots of prayers. But on the eve of the all-important SAT, Alma discovers her daughter isn’t at home studying. A schooling and la chancla await Angel at home—but so does a creeping realization that more’s at stake than just a test score. A sacrifice from Alma’s past weighs heavy on their present; now, Alma fears that her worst nightmare may soon be their reality. Will the American Dream cost them a life together? [by dramaturg Catherine Rodriguez]
About Benjamin Benne
Benjamin Benne is a 2017 Robert Chesley/Victor Bumbalo Playwriting Award winner and a Playwrights’ Center Affiliated Writer (2017-18 McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting, 2016-17 Many Voices Fellowship). His plays have been produced/developed by the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference (2018), The Playwrights Realm’s Scratchpad Series (2017-18), The Lark’s Playwrights’ Week (2016), Two River Theater, Pillsbury House Theatre, Teatro Milagro, Seattle Repertory Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Theatre Battery, Annex Theatre, Forward Flux, Umbrella Project, and Parley, among others. His plays have been finalists for The Playwrights’ Center’s Jerome Fellowship, Princess Grace Award, SPACE on Ryder Farm’s Working Farm, Ingram New Works Lab, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Headwaters New Play Festival, and Austin Playhouse Festival of New American Plays, as well as runner-up for the National Latino Playwriting Award and semifinalist for the P73 Playwriting Fellowship. Most recently, Benjamin’s work was featured on Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s The Mix and 50 Playwrights Project’s Best Unproduced Latin@/x Plays 2018 list. He is a first-year MFA Playwriting candidate at the Yale School of Drama.
About the Blue Ink Playwriting Award
The annual Blue Ink Playwriting Award was created in 2010 to support new work. Since inception, American Blues Theater has named 9 Award winners, 64 finalists, and 83 semi-finalists. American Blues will award more than $5,000 in cash and prizes for 2019.
Each year American Blues Theater accepts worldwide submissions of original, unpublished full-length plays. The winning play is selected by Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside and the theater’s Ensemble. The playwright receives a monetary prize of $1,250 and a developmental workshop or staged reading at American Blues Theater in Chicago. Finalists and semi-finalists are also awarded a cash prize.
Submissions for the 2020 Blue Ink Playwriting Award open July 1, 2019. All submissions must be received by American Blues Theater by August 31, 2019 at 11:59pm. Playwrights may only submit one (1) manuscript each year for consideration.
About American Blues Theater
Winner of the American Theatre Wing’s prestigious National Theatre Company Award, American Blues Theater is a premier arts organization with an intimate environment that patrons, artists, and all Chicagoans call home. American Blues Theater explores the American identity through the plays it produces and communities it serves.
The diverse and multi-generational artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago. The 36-member Ensemble has 600+ combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2018, the theater and artists received 204 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and 36 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades.
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