Congratulations to Yussef EI Guindi the winner of the 2021 Blue Ink Award for playwriting. El Guindi’s play, Refugee Rhapsody, was selected from a pool 820 submissions. As part of the award, El Guindi receives a $2,000 cash prize and virtual reading with American Blues Theater.

“I’m thrilled to have won this award,” said El Guindi. “I’m grateful for the support of American Blues Theater and look forward to working with them on the upcoming reading.”

“We’re so excited to announce Yussef El Guindi’s script Refugee Rhapsody as the 2021 winner,” notes Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside. “Yussef is an important voice in theater. We are honored to share this powerful and unforgettable story.”


Sakinah, an Arab American woman, undergoes a mental health evaluation to determine what led to the violent crime she committed against Emily, a rich heiress. The play explores race, class, privilege, and how those factors collide and play out in today’s culture.

About Yussef El Guindi

Born in Egypt, raised in London and now based in Seattle, Yussef El Guindi’s work frequently examines the collision of ethnicities, cultures, and politics that face Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans. El Guindi holds an MFA in playwriting from Carnegie-Mellon University, and has worked as a playwright at Silk Road Rising; literary manager for Golden Thread Productions; and playwright-in-residence at Duke University.

He is the recipient of many honors, including the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the 2010 Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award. El Guindi’s most recent productions include “People of the Book” at ACT in Seattle; “Language Rooms” (Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award) at Pony World Theatre in Seattle, and Broken Nose Theatre in Chicago; “Hostages” at Radial Theater Project in Seattle; “The Talented Ones” at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland ( Santa Barbara Independent Indy Awards); “Threesome” at Portland Center Stage, ACT, and at 59E59 (winner of a Portland Drammy for Best Original Script); “Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World” (winner of the Steinberg/ American Theater Critics Association’s New Play Award in 2012; and the 2011 Gregory Award) also at ACT, Center Repertory Company (Walnut Creek, CA), and at Mosaic Theater Company (DC). Other productions: “Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat” was produced by Silk Road Rising and won the M. Elizabeth Osborn award. His play “Back of the Throat” (winner of L.A. Weekly’s Excellence in Playwriting Award for 2006), “Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World”, “Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes”, “Such a Beautiful Voice is Sayeda and Karima’s City” have been published by Dramatists Play Service. “Ten Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith”, “Collaborator”, “Threesome”, “The Talented Ones” and “Hostages” have been published by Broadway Play Publishing Inc. In January, 2019, Bloomsbury/ Methuen Drama published “Selected Works by Yussef El Guindi”. Currently a Core Company playwright member at ACT in Seattle, and a Resident Artist at Golden Thread Production.

Other 2021 Blue Ink Award winners

Featured Finalists: Juan Alfonso (An Educated Guess), Matthew Libby (The Machine), Wendy MacLeod (The Good Samaritan), chandra thomas (The Buzzer).

Finalists: Jaisey Bates (When We Breathe), Mardee Bennett (CANE), Xavier Clark (backstroke boys), Gina Femia (the thing about air), Nancy Garcia Loza (RUST), Keiko Green (wad), Zora Howard (Hang Time), Kristin Idaszak (Tidy), Sam Kebede (Jericho), Matthew Paul Olmos (that drive through monterey), Audley Puglisi (the salt women), Caridad Svich (Albemarle).

Semi-finalists: Ian August (Everything You Can Do [To Make the World a Better Place]), Melda Beaty (Coconut Cake), Brysen Boyd (RD/Suite Meeting RM, 204), Toccara Castleman (Maybe a Mexican), Harold Ellis Clark (Back in the Day), Greg Congleton (High Ground), Messiah Cristine (The Topography of Dreams of Where Wolves Go to Whisper), Angela J. Davis (AGATHE), Spenser Davis (Underdogz), Raul Garza (Running Bear), Patty Kim Hamilton (Peeling Oranges), Amina Henry (Burned), Michele Kushner (Somewhere in My Sunset), Rachel Lynett (Apologies to Lorraine Hansberry [You Too August Wilson]), Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj ([Un]Documented), Madeline Mahrer (Arcade), Eric Marlin (Denial), Katarzyna Muller (American Monster), Karissa Murrell Myers (On the Greenbelt), Paloma Nozicka (Enough to Let the Light In), Daniel Olivas (Waiting for Godinez), Zack Peercy (Essential Starlite), Kira Rockwell (The Tragic Ecstasy of Girlhood), Lia Romeo (The Agency), Andrew Rosendorf (One-Shot), Marcus Scott (Sibling Rivalries), Scott Sickles (Pangea), Kristen Spencer (Dutch Kings), Nathan Yungerberg (THEA), Emily Zemba (But if the Train Comes to Her).

About the Blue Ink Award playwriting

The annual Blue Ink Award for playwriting was created in 2010 to support new work. Since inception, American Blues Theater has named 11 Award winners, 95 finalists, and 139 semi-finalists. American Blues will award more than $9,000 in cash and prizes in 2021. 

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 and reading at American Blues Theater in Chicago.  Finalists and semi-finalists are also awarded a cash prize.

Submissions for the 2022 Blue Ink Award closed August 31, 2021. All submissions must be received by American Blues Theater by August 31, 2021 at 11:59 PM Central. Playwrights may only submit one (1) manuscript each year for consideration.

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