CHICAGO: American Blues Theater has announced Refugee Rhapsody, by Yussef El Guindi, as the winner of the 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Award. Created in 2010, the award comes with a $2,000 cash prize for the winning playwright, with finalists and semi-finalists also receiving monetary prizes. Submissions are accepted from original, unpublished full-length plays from anywhere in the world, with the winning play selected by artistic director Gwendolyn Whiteside and the theatre’s ensemble.
“We’re so excited to announce Yussef El Guindi’s script Refugee Rhapsody as the 2021 winner,” said Whiteside in a statement. “Yussef is an important voice in theatre. We are honored to share this powerful and unforgettable story.”
Refugee Rhapsody will receive a staged reading as part of the virtual 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Festival and be included in an online library alongside new work by finalists Juan Alfonso (An Educated Guess), Matthew Libby (The Machine), Wendy MacLeod (The Good Samaritan), and chandra thomas (The Buzzer). Details on the virtual reading and library will be announced at a later date.
The play explores race, class, and privilege through the story of Sakinah, an Arab American woman who undergoes a mental health evaluation to find out what led to a violent crime she committed against a rich heiress.
Born in Egypt, raised in London and now based in Seattle, Yussef El Guindi writes plays that frequently examine the collision of ethnicities, cultures, and politics that face Arab Americans and Muslim Americans. El Guindi holds an MFA in playwriting from Carnegie-Mellon University, and has worked as a playwright at Silk Road Rising; literary manager for Golden Thread Productions; and playwright-in-residence at Duke University.
He is the recipient of many honors, including the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the 2010 Middle East America Distinguished Playwright Award. El Guindi’s most recent productions include People of the Book at ACT in Seattle; Language Rooms (Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award) at Pony World Theatre in Seattle, and Broken Nose Theatre in Chicago; Hostages at Radial Theater Project in Seattle; The Talented Ones at Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland ( Santa Barbara Independent Indy Awards); Threesome at Portland Center Stage, ACT, and at 59E59 (winner of a Portland Drammy for Best Original Script); Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World (winner of the Steinberg/ American Theater Critics Association’s New Play Award in 2012; and the 2011 Gregory Award) also at ACT, Center Repertory Company (Walnut Creek, CA), and at Mosaic Theater Company (DC). Other productions: Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat was produced by Silk Road Rising and won the M. Elizabeth Osborn award. His play Back of the Throat (winner of L.A. Weekly’s Excellence in Playwriting Award for 2006), Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World; Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes; Such a Beautiful Voice is Sayeda and Karima’s City have been published by Dramatists Play Service. Ten Acrobats in an Amazing Leap of Faith; Collaborator; Threesome; The Talented Ones and Hostages have been published by Broadway Play Publishing Inc. In January, 2019, Bloomsbury/ Methuen Drama published Selected Works by Yussef El Guindi. Currently a Core Company playwright member at ACT in Seattle, and a Resident Artist at Golden Thread Production.
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