CHICAGO: American Blues Theater has named Benjamin Benne the recipient of the 2019 Blue Ink Playwriting Award. Benne’s script Alma (or #nowall) was selected from a pool of 752 submissions, and he will receive a cash prize of $1,250 in addition to the opportunity to develop the project at American Blues Theater.
“We’re honored to announce Benjamin Benne’s script as the 2019 winner,” said artistic director Gwendolyn Whiteside in a statement. “Ben is an important and profound voice in American theatre. His work is full of rich characters and truth that capture humanity beautifully. We’re thrilled to further develop Alma (or #nowall) with Ben.”
The play follows Alma, a single mother raising her daughter with tough love and lots of prayers. When Alma discovers that her daughter isn’t home on the eve of the SAT test, she fears that there is more at stake than just a test score.
“As the son of a Latin American immigrant, I couldn’t think of focusing on writing any other story post-election,” said Benne in a statement. “It is deeply meaningful that American Blues Theater has elected to recognize this play—about the U.S. as a place of opportunity/oppression that also explores current U.S. immigration law and exposes the injustice of borders, while breathing joy, pain, hope, and uncertainty into an intimate relationship between two humans (who are actively being dehumanized by the current U.S. administration)—with the Blue Ink Playwriting Award.”
Benne is a 2017 Robert Chesley/Victor Bumbalo Playwriting Award winner and a Playwrights’ Center Affiliated Writer (2017-18 McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting, 2016-17 Many Voices Fellowship). His plays have been produced/developed by the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, the Playwrights Realm’s Scratchpad Series, the Lark’s Playwrights’ Week, Two River Theater, Pillsbury House Theatre, Teatro Milagro, Seattle Repertory Theatre, among others. Most recently, his work was featured on Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s the Mix and 50 Playwrights Project’s Best Unproduced Latin@/x Plays 2018 list. He is a first-year MFA Playwriting candidate at the Yale School of Drama.
Established in 2010, the annual Blue Ink Playwriting Award supports new work. Blues Theater has named 9 Award winners, 64 finalists, and 83 semi-finalists. Submissions for the 2020 Blue Ink Playwriting Award open July 1. All submissions must be received by American Blues Theater by Aug. 31 at 11:59pm. Playwrights may only submit one manuscript each year for consideration.