We’re proud to announce the 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Award to Refugee Rhapsody by Yussef El Guindi. Featured finalists include An Educated Guess by Juan Alfonso, The Machine by Matthew Libby, The Good Samaritan by Wendy MacLeod, and The Buzzer by chandra thomas.

“We honored to celebrate and amplify these works. Our free online library is internationally accessible, allowing the public the opportunity to read 5 incredible scripts,” notes Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside.


“If you’re going through life non-violently you’re not paying attention, are you.”

SYNOPSIS: 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.

ATTEND THE READING ON ZOOM: Friday, August 6 @ 7:00 PM Central

HOW TO READ THE SCRIPT: Contact Samara Harris at the Michael Moore Agency to request a perusal copy, Samara@michaelmooreagency.com

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.


“He showin’ you off in meetings with district. All proud. ‘See? I care about diversity.’ Checks that box with a big red marker.”

SYNOPSIS: For federal immigration officer Alba Guerrero, making judgments about residency and citizenship is routine — an educated guess based on a short interview and a few pages of paperwork. But on an ordinary fall day, we’ll witness the domino effect of Alba’s seemingly small error, as it leads to tragic consequences. The piece takes a deep dive into the theme of identity, reminding us that beneath the enormity of the immigration issue, lies a set of unique, individual life stories.

HOW TO READ THIS SCRIPT: Download PDF | Open in browser.

For production inquiries, please contact Max Grossman at A3 Artists Agency, Max.Grossman@a3artistsagency.com.

JUAN ALFONSO is late to the playwriting game. After 20 years as a media executive, he wrote his first play, An Educated Guess, based on his own experience as an immigrant to the United States. The play was developed at New York Theatre Workshop and Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. Juan is writing his next two plays in residency at the Geffen Playhouse’s Writers’ Room program and the Boise Contemporary Theater’s BIPOC Playwrights Festival. In his day job, Juan is a television executive. He has worked on over 25 scripted shows, including the Emmy-winning American Crime from Academy Award winner John Ridley and Marvel’s Agent Carter; as well the upcoming Gaslit, starring Julia Roberts. At ESPN, he produced unscripted series and documentaries, including The Clemente Effect and L’Arbitre, winner of the United Nations prize at the New York Festivals in 2010. Juan began his career in advertising agencies in New York and San Francisco. He is a member of Children’s Bureau, and an unpaid weekend chauffeur for his very active children.


“The human brain is the most powerful computer on the planet.”

SYNOPSIS: Laney Chamberlain is an acclaimed poet-turned-professor with a severe case of writer’s block. One day, she is approached by the CEO of a tech company with a strange proposition: he wants to design an artificially intelligent computer program that will create works replicating her poetic voice – in other words, a machine that can write her poetry. This sends Laney through a journey of self-discovery, as she struggles with her identity as an artist in academia, with a tragedy in her recent past, and with the question: what does it mean to lead a creative life?

HOW TO READ THIS SCRIPT: Download PDF | Open in browser.

MATTHEW LIBBY is a writer and actor based in Brooklyn, by way of Los Angeles. His play DATA won the Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Award, and was adapted as a digital production presented by the Tony-winning Alliance Theatre in May 2021, a production featured in a New York Times review of virtual theatre works that “clear a path toward continued innovation and growth of the form.” Matt is a Princess Grace Award finalist, two-time O’Neill Playwrights Conference semifinalist, and Blue Ink Playwriting Award featured finalist, and his work has been produced and developed by theaters across the country, including the Alliance Theatre, Theater Masters, The Kennedy Center, National New Play Network, The Barrow Group, The Road Theater Company, WNYU’s Theatre-in-the-Sound, and others. With Stanford Repertory Theater, he helped devise and acted in THE MANY FACES OF FARCE, which was nominated for a 2018 Bay Area Critics Award for Best Production. As a TV writer, he is developing a historical series with eOne and Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions, and his screenwriting work has been recognized by The Black List and Script Pipeline. Matt studied cognitive science and creative writing at Stanford University, and received his MFA in dramatic writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he was awarded the Chair’s Award for Distinguished Achievement. https://www.matthew-libby.com/


“I was buying eggs! For your stupid birthday cake!”

SYNOPSIS: When Héctor, a Guatemalan teenager working at a nearby agri-business, hides in a college student’s car, Paige has to figure out how to protect him from the rule-bound CA down the hall and the farmer who’s looking for him. Can she trust the soccer bro’ who claims to have connections to a senator?  Inspired by a labor-trafficking case in Ohio, The Good Samaritan is a timely college play that explores American attitudes about immigration.

HOW TO READ THIS SCRIPT: Contact APA Agency to request a perusal copy at bblickers@apa-agency.com.

WENDY MACLEOD’s play The House of Yes became an award-winning Miramax film and her newest play The Laugh Track will premiere at ACT in Seattle.  Other plays:  Women in Jeopardy!  (GEVA), Slow Food (Merrimack Rep), Sin (Goodman, Second Stage) Schoolgirl Figure (Goodman), The Water Children and Juvenilia (Playwrights Horizons), and Things Being What They Are (Seattle Repertory Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre).  Her play Basta! will open this fall at National Theatre of Genoa.


“The woman from the foster-care office will be here any minute.”

SYNOPSIS: Amelia and her longtime partner Matthew are applying to foster a kid. The Newark homeowners, though of color, are considered part of the gentrifying wave that’s radically changing the city. They are reminded of this fact loudly and often by their sole tenant, Octavia. The couple navigates the surprise of Amelia’s ex, Davida unexpectedly showing up to evaluate the couple’s foster application. When young Talariq becomes their foster son, the couple’s collective and individual understandings of class, race/ethnicity, family and love are strained and tested.

HOW TO READ THIS SCRIPT: Contact LINK Entertainment to request a perusal copy at rachel@link-ent.com.

chandra thomas is a writer-actor-producer with a passion for character-driven stories centering marginalized voices. As a playwright, her work has been presented at Primary Stages, Barrow Group, Naked Angels, Echo Theater, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Downtown Urban Theatre Festival, HERE Arts Center, Vivid Stage, Passage Theatre, among others.

On the television side, chandra recently wrapped as a writer on the farewell season of the CBS hit comedy, MOM. Currently, she’s a writer on a new comedy series for Amazon. As an actor, her credits include roles in theatre, television, film and digital. chandra earned BA degrees in Theatre and Sociology from Vanderbilt University, and holds an MFA from Columbia University. Originally from New York, chandra’s the proud child of immigrants, has gleefully lived all over the country and around the world, and absolutely loves baseball.

Additional 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Awards

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 Playwriting Award

The annual Blue Ink Playwriting Award 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 Playwriting Award closed August 31, 2021. Playwrights may only submit one (1) manuscript each year for consideration.

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