American Blues Theater develops the classic plays and musicals of tomorrow. More than 65% of our theatrical events are world and Chicago premieres. Our new play development consists of a variety of programs – including world and Chicago premieres, the nationally-recognized Blue Ink Award for playwriting, the annual Ripped Festival of new short-plays, and development of new full-length plays and musicals. American Blues Theater does not accept unsolicited scripts.

Blue Ink Playwriting Award

BLUE INK AWARD for playwriting

The nationally-renowned Blue Ink Award for playwriting was created in 2010 to support new work. Since inception, we’ve named 12 Award winners, 112 finalists, and 171 semi-finalists.  Nearly $10,000 in cash and prizes was distributed to playwrights in 2022.

Each year American Blues Theater accepts worldwide submissions of original, unpublished full-length plays. The winning play will be selected by Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside and the theater’s Ensemble. The 2022 winning playwright receives a monetary prize of $2,500. 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 2023 Blue Ink Award for playwriting are closed.

Send any questions to Associate Artistic Director Elyse Dolan –

2023 Semi-finalists, finalists, and the award winner will be notified January – March 2023.

2023 Blue Ink Award rulesdownloadable pdf

Read about 2022 Blue Ink Award winner, finalists, and semi-finalists.











2022 Blue Ink Award

The Reapers on Woodbrook Avenue

by Mardee Bennett


Featured Finalists: Gina Femia (Staff Retreat), Rachel Lynett (White People By the Lake), Matthew Paul Olmos (a home what howls (or the house what was ravine)), Deborah Yarchun (Preservation)

Finalists: Paris Crayton III (Only Some of God’s Children or Mississippi Magnolias), Raul Garza (Arbolito), Emma Gibson (If nobody does remarkable things), Shannon TL Kearns (Body + Blood), Matthew Libby (Tomorrow and Tomorrow), Kyle J. McCloskey (Edge of Town), Tania Richard (The America Situation), Nia Akilah Robinson (“WP” Means “White People”), chandra thomas (…of Champions), Sarah Tuft (ABIGAIL), Ken Urban (The Moderate), P.C. Verrone (The Pretendians), Jessica Wu (Good Mourning)

Semi-finalists: Lucas Baisch (404 Not Found), Leah Roth Barsanti (The Almost Emperor of the Unofficial Deestrick of Lake Michigan), Cris Eli Blak (Sons of Liberty), Brysen Boyd (Closing Costs on 6101 Nyanza Park Drive APT D6 Flushing, NY 11351), Xavier Clark (supper), Erin Considine (Artists & Vandals), Shualee Cook (Cercle Hermaphroditos), Andrew Lee Creech (Last Drive to Dodge), Pauline David-Sax (Cotton’s Tale), Angela J. Davis (AGATHE), Alexandra Espinoza (All My Mothers Dream in Spanish), Mouncey Ferguson (Three-Day Hold), Linda Maria Girón (amémonos // let us love each other), Keiko Green (Sharon), Amina Henry (Interstate), M.J. Kang (Pretender), Gloria Majule (Culture Shock), Nick Malakhow (A Picture of Two Boys), Thaddeus McCants (No Different Than Cotton or Cobalt), Karissa Murrell Myers (Blood of My Mother’s), Felicia Oduh (Mercy), Tira Palmquist (The Body’s Midnight), Ankita Raturi (The Elephant is Very Like), Kira Rockwell (Oh, to Be Pure Again), Marcus Scott (Tumbleweed), SEVAN (Gorgonae), Christopher G. Smith (The Violin Maker), Phillip Christian Smith (Walking While Black), Ellis Stump (Once on Rumspringa), Caridad Svich (Clara Thomas Bailey), Caity-Shea Violette (Rx Machina), Laura Zlatos (The Blue Whale)


2021 – Refugee Rhapsody by Yussef El Guindi

2020 – Recent Unsettling Events by Andrea Stolowitz

2019 – Alma by Benjamin Benne | world premiere American Blues Theater, Chicago, 2022; Center Theater Group, L.A., 2022

2018 – Welcome to Matteson! by Inda Craig-Galván

2017 – Hype Man by Idris Goodwin | world premiere Company One, Boston, 2018

2016 – The Wind and the Breeze by Nathan Alan Davis | world premiere Cygnet Theatre, San Diego, 2018

2015 – Other Than Honorable by Jamie Pachino | world premiere Geva Theatre Center, NY, 2017

2014 – Comden Mall Community Activists by Douglas Post

2013 – Graveyard of Empires by Elaine Romero | world premiere 16th Street Theater, Chicago, 2015

2012 – American Myth by Christina Telesca | world premiere American Blues Theater, Chicago, 2014

2011 – American Home by Stephanie Walker | world premiere, Pasadena, CA, 2017

Ripped Festival Chicago


Chicago’s Original – Est. 2009

HISTORY – Our Ripped: The Living Newspaper Project began in 2009 with a series of staged readings of short plays based on the 1930s WPA era program “The Living Newspaper” and Federal Writers’ Project, enabling artists such as Ralph Ellison, Susan Glaspell, Zora Neale Hurston, Eugene O’Neill, Studs Terkel, and Richard Wright. Since our inaugural 2009 launch, we’ve presented 21 events and utilized 610+ artists that feature short plays ripped from today’s headlines.

In 2013, we expanded our staged readings into the sold-out, one-night-only, annual event – The Ripped Festival. All proceeds of these annual events benefit our free arts education program, including “The Lincoln Project” in Chicago Public Schools. In addition, we showcase short plays from CPS students who’ve completed our course.

Due to the 2020-2021 pandemic and industry shutdown of live events, we presented The Ripped Festival as an online library, featuring 30 short plays throughout the month of June. Selected scripts were used during a theater course at the University of California – Berkeley.

Our annual festival cultivates new material and allows audiences to discuss topical issues together. American Blues Theater provides community service and raises awareness through creative collaborations. The following organizations have been supported by Ripped events since its inception in 2009: AgrAbility, American Indian Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Illinois Farm Bureau, Lincoln Park Community Shelter, NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, No Kid Hungry, University of Chicago’s Urban Education Teachers Program, and more.



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