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 Playwriting Award, 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


The nationally-renowned Blue Ink Playwriting Award was created in 2010 to support new work. Since inception, we’ve named 11 Award winners, 95 finalists, and 139 semi-finalists.  Over $9,000 in cash and prizes will be distributed to playwrights in 2021.

Each year American Blues Theater accepts worldwide submissions of original, unpublished full-length plays.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 2021 winning playwright receives a monetary prize of $2,000. 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 2022 Blue Ink Playwriting Award closed August 31, 2021.

Send any questions to Associate Producer Elyse Dolan –

2022 Semi-finalists, finalists, and the award winner will be notified January – March 2022.

2022 Blue Ink Playwriting Award rulesDownload Guidelines pdf

See 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Award winner, finalists, & semi-finalists.











2021 Blue Ink Award Winner

Yussef El Guindi

Refugee Rhapsody

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).



2020 – Recent Unsettling Events by Andrea Stolowitz

2019 – Alma by Benjamin Benne | world premiere American Blues Theater, Chicago, 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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