LOS ANGELES: East West Players (EWP) has announced the winners of the playwriting competition “2042: See Change,” chosen from among a large number of nationwide submissions. To qualify, plays had to address the changing face of America, and could not have been previously produced professionally. The competition is part of EWP’s 51% Preparedness Plan, a project aimed at challenging the American theatre to lead on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
“We’re pleased with the multitude of new stories coming from the field,” said producing artistic director Tim Dang in a statement. “The American theatre must open up their storytelling to include stories from all communities, invite the next generation to bring their innovation and inspiration to theatre, and offer equal opportunities in reimagining the theatre. The future is already here, and we look forward to other theatres embracing this change.”
The first place winner is Nathan Ramos’s Base Degrees, about a first-generation Asian American who struggles in New York City to find his voice as a writer. Ramos is from Cleveland, Ohio, and was born to a Filipino Texan and a Korean immigrant. He received an MFA from Ohio University. Ramos will receive a $5,000 prize.
The second place winner is Robert Kuang for The Piano, about the death of a Chinese patriarch, which forces three generations of Asian-American women to live under the same roof for the first time, in a collision of Asian- and Jewish-American family traditions. Kuang was born in Beijing, China, and lived in Colorado for nine years before studying playwriting at New York University. He will receive a $2,500 prize.
The third place winner is Anna Moench’s Three Kingdoms, about a father who journeys from China to America to reunite with his daughter. Moench’s plays have been produced at 59E59, Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Flea, NYU Tisch, the Old Vic, Indiana University of PA, Dance Theater Workshop, FringeNYC, and more. Her awards include a NYFA Fellowship, a Jerome Fellowship, a Van Lier Fellowship, the Jerome Travel Grant, two EST/Sloan commissions, and residencies at Yaddo, Baltimore’s Center Stage, and BRIC Arts. Current and upcoming productions include The Pillow Book at Baltimore’s Cohesion Theatre, coproduced by Strand Theater, and In Quietness at NYC’s Walker Space with Dutch Kills Theater. Moench will receive a $1,000 prize.
Honorable mentions go to Fall by Audra Lord, No More Sad Things by Hansol Jung, Seamless by Dorinne Kondo, Constitution Day by Jonathan Calindas, and Alameda by Jeremy Tiang.
“The theme of seeking plays that delve into the shifting demographics of the U.S. seems to have caught onto something, based on the sheer volume and breadth of submissions,” said literary manager and artistic associate Snehal Desai in a statement. “It was an exceptional field of plays, and the three winners stand out as sterling examples of reflecting our theme of 2042: See Change. The eight plays highlighted today are engaging, smart, and compelling works that incisively explore the changing American landscape with humor and humility. They really dove into the theme of cultural intersectionality, and they are works that all of us involved with this competition look forward to seeing on the stage.”
EWP will present readings of the winning plays over the coming year.