Congratulations to Ken Urban, winner of the 2024 Blue Ink Award for The Conquered.

As part of the award, Urban receives a $3,000 cash prize, a staged reading directed by Artistic Affiliate Dexter Bullard at American Blues Theater, and the opportunity to further develop his script with our artists.

Ken Urban notes, “It’s such an honor to win for The Conquered. It’s a story that has haunted me ever since I first dreamed it up after reading THE NEW YORKER article that inspired it. Writing a thriller for the stage inspired by advances in neurotechnology always felt a little dangerous. Would an audience be into this dark mysterious story? This recognition’s greatest gift is that it means that Jane’s story resonates with people and that’s the thing every playwright is always hoping for.”

“We are thrilled to announce Ken Urban’s The Conquered as the 2024 Blue Ink Award winner,” comments Executive Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside. “This play keeps you on the edge, listening to every word and judging every silence. The intrigue, mystery, and slow tease of plot is masterful.”

About The Conquered

Jane is adrift. She suffers a recurring nightmare in which a young man breaks into her house. She looks to her husband and therapist for answers. But her quest leads to a dangerous discovery.

About Ken Urban

KEN URBAN is a playwright, screenwriter and musician. His audio play VAPOR TRAIL was selected for the 2022 Tribeca Festival’s Audio Storytelling series and released as part of Playwrights Horizons’ Sound Stage that fall. His stage plays include A GUIDE FOR THE HOMESICK (Huntington Theatre Company, Trafalgar Studios in the West End), THE REMAINS (Studio Theatre), SENSE OF AN ENDING (59E59 Theatres, London’s Theatre503), NIBBLER (The Amoralists and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), THE CORRESPONDENT (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), THE AWAKE (59E59 Theatres, Chicago’s First Floor Theater), and THE HAPPY SAD (The Public Theatre/Summer Play Festival). He is a four-time recipient of the prestigious MacDowell Fellowship. Awards include Venturous Theater Fund Finishing Commission, EST/Alfred P. Sloan Science & Technology Project Commission, Weissberger Playwriting Award, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Independent Reviewers of New England’s Award for Best New Script, Headlands Artist Residency, Millay Arts Residency, Dramatist Guild Fellowship, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship. He is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and an affiliated writer at the Playwrights’ Center. Ken wrote the screenplay for the feature-film adaptation of THE HAPPY SAD, directed by Rodney Evans. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service/Broadway Licensing. He leads the band Occurrence and their latest album SLOW VIOLENCE was released in April 2023. Their music has been described as “a sonic tapestry that blends elements of indie pop, electronic music and shoegaze into a seamless whole” (PLASTIC MAGAZINE) and called a band that is “thinking big” (V13). The band collaborated with choreographer Dan Safer at MIT’s Theater Arts program on a devised dance theater piece based on the album. That production was filmed and will screen in New York City and Boston. His first TV pilot THE ART OF LISTENING was optioned by ITV and Madison Wells Media. He is currently working on five new stage plays and a feature film. Ken is the Senior Lecturer of Theater Arts and Director of Dramatic Writing at MIT. He has taught writing at Harvard University, Princeton University, Tufts University and Davidson College. He lives in Washington Heights with his partner Johnny.

Other 2024 Blue Ink winners

Featured Finalists: Brittany Fisher (Your Regularly Scheduled Programming), Nick Malakhow (Grit), Sharifa Yasmin (The Devils Between Us).

Finalists: Doc Andersen-Bloomfield (Jus’ Sayin’, Jus’ Sayin’), Rae Binstock (Relentless), Yussef El Guindi (Wife of Headless Man Investigates Her Own Disappearance), Gina Femia (HURRICANE(S)), Dominic Finocchiaro (how it feels to fall from the sky), Alyssa Haddad-Chin (The Ancestry Dot Com Play), Rachel Lynett (Missing Socks and a Line of Coke (or The Baby Fever Play)), Wendy MacLeod (Posterity), Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj (with supplemental dialogue and dramaturgy by Adam Mace) (Sweet Lorraine), Matthew Paul Olmos (immorality may well be imagined), Audley Puglisi (Lucky Bird), Nia Akilah Robinson (A Clubbing Subculture; The Promoter House), Omer Abbas Salem (Modern Women), Caridad Svich (Kora K.), R. Eric Thomas (Humble Yourself!), LaDarrion Williams (The Odyssey of Tyrell James).

Semi-finalists: Amanda L. Andrei (Helicopter Typhoon Carabao! Or, To Survive an Apocalypse Now), Ian August (All the Emilies in All the Universes), Cris Eli Blak (Anonymous Skin), Barbara Blatner (Jane, Queen’s Foole), Toccara Castleman (Maybe a Mexican), Douglas Chang (Minor Bird), Xavier Clark (ICONS), Spenser Davis (A Million Tiny Pieces), Rudi Goblen (Green Suga Bloos), Morgan Gould (All the Stupid Bitches), Katherine Gwynn (All I Wanna Do Is Be Pretty Like You), Jordan Elizabeth Henry (HOWLING: a fairy tale), Kristin Idaszak (Last Ascent), Jessica Kahkoska (In Her Bones), M.J. Kang (Blyth Visitations), Alan Kilpatrick (Scorpio’s Tail), Alex Lubischer (You Deserve to Be Here), Zizi Majid (The Rejects), Gloria Majule (My Father was Shot in the Back of the Head), Forest Malley (French Boy Cigarettes), Eric Marlin (inside you, a cry), Karissa Murrell Myers (Black Bear Island), Esmé Maria Ng (FISH MEAT), Darcy Parker Bruce (the wolf you feed), Nicholas Pilapil (God Will Do The Rest), Christina Pumariega (VOS!), Iraisa Ann Reilly (Miss America Pretty), Jesús I. Valles (Spread), Liba Vaynberg (Romance Languages), P.C. Verrone (PIONEER).


About the Blue Ink Award for playwriting

The nationally-renowned Blue Ink Award was created in 2010 to support new work. Since inception, we’ve named 14 Award winners, 148 finalists, and 233 semi-finalists. Nearly $10,000 in cash and prizes will be distributed to playwrights in 2024.

Each year American Blues Theater accepts worldwide submissions of original, unpublished full-length plays. The winning play will be selected by Executive Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside and the theater’s Ensemble. The 2024 winning playwright receives a monetary prize of $3,000. Cash prizes are awarded to finalists and semi-finalists too. All proceeds of the administrative fee are distributed for playwrights’ cash prizes.

Submissions for the 2025 Blue Ink Award open August 1, 2024. All submissions must be received by American Blues Theater by August 31, 2024 at 11:59pm. Playwrights may only submit one (1) manuscript each year for consideration.

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