American Blues Theater develops the classic plays and musicals of tomorrow. More than 65% of our programming are world and Chicago premieres. Our new play development includes 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 AWARD for playwriting
The nationally-renowned Blue Ink Award for playwriting was created in 2010 to support new work. Since inception, we’ve named 13 Award winners, 129 finalists, and 203 semi-finalists. Nearly $10,000 in cash and prizes were distributed to playwrights in 2023.
Each year American Blues Theater accepts worldwide submissions of original, unpublished full-length plays.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.
Send any questions to Associate Artistic Director Elyse Dolan – ElyseD@AmericanBluesTheater.com.
2024 Semi-finalists, finalists, and the award winner will be notified in February 2024.
2025 SUBMISSIONS OPEN
Things With Friends
Featured Finalists: Audrey Cefaly (Trouble), Victor Lesniewski (Cold Spring), Gloria Majule (Uhuru).
Finalists: Amanda L. Andrei (Mama, I wish I were silver), Kimberly Dixon-Mays (When Given a Choice, Bleed), Emma Gibson (LUMIN), Keiko Green (Hells Canyon), Monet Hurst-Mendoza (Blind Crest), Deepak Kumar (House of India), Matthew Libby (Sisters), Tlaloc Rivas (DIVISIDERO), Nia Akilah Robinson (The Great Privation: How to flip ten cents into a dollar), Elaine Romero (Hoverland), Marcus Scott (There Goes The Neighborhood), SEVAN (You, The Fire, and Me), Liba Vaynberg (The Matriarchs), LaDarrion Williams (Bridging the Gap).
Semi-finalists: Jaisey Bates (Real Time remix), Cris Eli Blak (Brown Bodies on a Blue Earth), Brendan Bourque-Sheil and Madison Smith (Dogrose Patrol), Laura Maria Censabella (Beyond Words), Aaron Coleman (Tell Me I’m Gorgeous at the End of the World: The Last Gay Play), Nelson Diaz-Marcano (When the Earth Moves, We Dance), Ramón Esquivel (¡O Cascadia!), Gina Femia (lisa; a fantasia), Alyssa Haddad-Chin (Off-White; Or the Arab House Party Play), Darrel Alejandro Holnes (Franklin Ave), Jessica Kahkoska (In Her Bones), M.J. Kang (The Battle of Saratoga), Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj (stop killing black people), Zizi Majid (They Came In The Night), Eric Marlin (and come apart), Josie Nericcio (619 Hendricks), Peter Pasco (Yoli, Alfredo, y la vida), Jason Gray Platt (Homeowners), Audley Puglisi (The Misplaced Saints), Andre R. Hogan II (The Hot Wing Special), Iraisa Ann Reilly (Saturday Mourning Cartoons), Lia Romeo (Greek Tragedy), Phillip Christian Smith (Riverside Drive), Jonathan Spector (Best Available), Gina Stevensen (Breakfalls), Steven Strafford (The Model Congressman), Ellis Stump (Once on Rumspringa), Caridad Svich (Joan of the Dockyards), James Anthony Tyler (Into the Side of a Hill), Hope Villanueva (Brackish), Mary Weems (Crack the Door for Some Air), Deborah Yarchun (Great White).
Read about the 2023 BLUE INK AWARD WINNER, FINALISTS, & SEMI-FINALISTS.
PREVIOUS BLUE INK AWARD WINNERS
2022 – The Reapers on Woodbrook Avenue by Mardee Bennett
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 | world premiere New Jersey Repertory Company, 2023; Congo Square Theatre, Chicago, 2023.
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
THE RIPPED FESTIVAL
Chicago’s Original – Est. 2009
Now in its 16th year, our annual Ripped Festival is a 30-day celebration of short plays and playwrights. We’ve presented 22 events and utilized 650+ artists that feature scripts ripped from today’s headlines.
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 to launch their careers. 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 programs. 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. Due to incredible response, our month long celebration of playwrights and short plays continue.
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