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American Blues Theater Announces Blue Ink Winner

Mardee Bennett’s ‘The Reapers on Woodbrook Avenue’ has taken the award, which comes with $2,500 prize.

CHICAGO: The American Blues Theater has awarded the 2022 Blue Ink Award to playwright Mardee Bennett for The Reapers on Woodbrook Avenue. The award, given since 2010, recognizes new works, focusing on original, unpublished full-length plays. Selected by American Blues artistic director Gwendolyn Whiteside and the theatre’s ensemble, the winning playwright receives a $2,500 cash prize, a staged reading at American Blues Theater, and the opportunity to further develop the script.

“I am elated to have my work selected by American Blues Theater,” said Bennett in a statement. “The opportunity to develop this play in one of the theatre capitals of the world— Chicago—is a delight.”

Added artistic director Gwendolyn Whiteside in a statement, “Mardee created an incredibly detailed world with rich characters that leap off the page and into our hearts. We’re honored to share this relevant and timeless story.”

Set in mid-century Baltimore, The Reapers on Woodbrook Avenue follows three generations of women on a journey through time as they grapple with their complex family history. A staged reading will be presented in August as part of the 2022 Blue Ink Playwriting Festival. The festival will also feature an online library of new work by finalists Gina Femia (Staff Retreat), Rachel Lynett (White People By the Lake), Matthew Paul Olmos (a home what howls, or the house what as ravine), and Deborah Yarchun (Preservation). Prizes will also be awarded to 2022 finalists and semi-finalists, with nearly $10,000 in cash and prizes distributed to playwrights.

The American Blues Theater is an award-winning arts organization and home to the second-oldest professional Equity ensemble theatre in Chicago. 

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