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Pictured: Playwright Benjamin Benne
American Blues Theater has named Benjamin Benne as this year’s recipient of the national 2019 Blue Ink Playwriting Award.
Benne was selected from a pool 752 submissions, and as part of the award receives a $1,250 and the opportunity to further develop his script, “Alma (or #nowall),” with American Blues Theater.
“As the son of a Latin American immigrant, I couldn’t think of focusing on writing any other story post-election,” says Benne. “It is deeply meaningful that American Blues Theater has elected to recognize this play–about the US as a place of opportunity/oppression that also explores current US 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 US administration)–with the Blue Ink Playwriting Award. I’d also like to thank some key collaborators who contributed to this play’s development, dramaturgy, and Spanish translations: Catherine Rodriguez, Elena Araoz, Marcela Lorca, and Ana Maria Campoy. As well as acknowledge the play’s development support by The Playwrights’ Center, the Jerome Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Theatre Battery, and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference.”
According to the synopsis by dramaturg Catherine Rodriguez, “Alma (or #nowall)” features working mom Alma who has single-handedly raised her daughter, Angel, on tough love, home-cooked comida, and lots of prayers. But on the eve of the all-important SAT, Alma discovers her daughter isn’t at home studying. A schooling and la chancla await Angel at home—but so does a creeping realization that more’s at stake than just a test score. A sacrifice from Alma’s past weighs heavy on their present; now, Alma fears that her worst nightmare may soon be their reality. Will the American Dream cost them a life together?
“We’re honored to announce Benne’s script as the 2019 winner,” comments Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside. “Ben is an important and profound voice in American theater. His work is full of rich characters and truth that capture humanity beautifully. We’re thrilled to further develop ‘Alma (or #nowall)’ with Ben.”