Benjamin Benne submitted his unproduced play in the summer of 2018.

It arrived quietly and unassumingly—as so many of our contest’s entries. You only needed to read a few pages to feel the power of this story. His script rolled down the submission pile in an avalanche of “yes” from all our readers. Not only is this piece relevant to our mission—to tell stories of the American identity—but it illuminates humankind:

Parents want more for their children than they have experienced.

They will sacrifice anything and everything to give opportunity.

His stunning work Alma won our 2019 Blue Ink Award for playwriting. We celebrated with a staged reading and reception during that summer’s Blue Ink Festival. Our Ensemble unanimously programmed the World Premiere into that upcoming season.

Then, an unexpected series of events delayed its fully-realized production. Covid-19 brought the 1st postponement. We pivoted with a 2020 live, virtual reading, promising to reschedule shortly. (Surely, this virus would clear in a couple of months, we thought.) Alas, C-19 brought a 2nd postponement too. Finally, as things began to reopen, scheduling venues, dates, and artist availability became the next challenge. Chicago Theater experienced a producing traffic jam caused by too few venues for a city of gigantic talent roaring back to the boards.

Meanwhile, Center Theatre Group—a $50MM organization in Los Angeles, asked if we’d share World Premiere rights in 2022. They had an available, open slot in one of their many venues. Playwright Benjamin Benne’s express support for our decision—whatever it may be—only deepened our love for this writer. Our resounding answer was YES because it would allow him an incredible opportunity. Artistic cooperation strengthens our industry and should never to be underestimated.

We’re thrilled to share Ana Velazquez’s deeply-felt vision and the profound performances by Jazmín Corona and Bryanna Ciera Colón. The design process and collaboration has been a creative dream.

We are honored to present this story.

We are humbled by the artists’ patience as we navigated past the ghost light.

You’ll find this play is as relevant today as it was years ago.

– Gwendolyn Whiteside

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