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Chicago Dramatists Announce 30th Anniversary Season

 Artistic Director Russ Tutterow announced Chicago Dramatists' 30th anniversary season, featuring three productions of world premiere plays, and the fourth annual Many Voices Project. Each year Chicago Dramatists, "the playwrights' theatre," produces three of the best new plays from the hundreds developed through its many developmental programs. This year, "Ten Cent Night" by resident playwright Marisa Wegrzyn, "How I Became an Interesting Person" by resident playwright Will Dunne, and "Hope VI" by resident playwright Nambi E. Kelley, will make up its production season.

Exclusively sponsored by the Sara Lee Foundation, Chicago Dramatists 30th anniversary season also includes the fourth annual Many Voices Project, Chicago's first playwriting contest and developmental showcase embracing playwrights of color.  In addition, Chicago Dramatists' Saturday Series will showcase 44 staged readings of plays-in-progress, many of which will move on to productions at theatres in Chicago and around the nation.

"The Sara Lee Foundation is proud to be the exclusive sponsor of Chicago Dramatists' 30th anniversary season," said Judy E. Schaefer, Director of the Sara Lee Foundation. "Chicago Dramatists and its resident playwrights understand and appreciate the power that comes from embracing diversity.  Its productions, readings and the Many Voices Project foster an inclusive environment that portrays powerfully diverse stories representative of our greater society, helping us all to understand and appreciate."

"Ten Cent Night" by Marisa Wegrzyn
September 18 – October 26, 2008

 The world premiere of "Ten Cent Night" by resident playwright Marisa Wegrzyn will play from September 18 to October 26, 2008, with opening night on Friday, September 26, 2008.

Dad's shot himself in the head and failed musician Roby Finley is on her way home to Burkeville, TX, with a suitcase full of stolen cash to save her heart-sick sister.  A family comedy from a time when a dime could buy you a phone call home.

Marisa Wegrzyn's "The Butcher of Baraboo" was produced in Steppenwolf Theatre's First Look Repertory in 2006, and premiered off-Broadway at Second Stage last summer. Her play "Killing Women" was produced by Theatre Seven of Chicago.  Wegrzyn is currently working on commissions from Steppenwolf,

Yale Rep, and Actors Theatre of Louisville.  Her other plays include "Psalms of a Questionable Nature" and "Hickorydickory."  Her work has been produced or read at Chicago Dramatists, Washington University in St. Louis, Eckerd College/WordBRIDGE, Geva Theatre Center, Lucid by Proxy, The Hourglass Group, The Women's Project, Centerstage, and The Magic Theatre. She has a B.A. from Washington University, where she studied playwriting with Carter W. Lewis.

"How I Became an Interesting Person" by Will Dunne
January 15 – February 22, 2009

The world premiere production of "How I Became an Interesting Person" by resident playwright Will Dunne will run from January 15 to February 22,  2009, with opening night on Friday, January 23, 2009. Artistic Director Russ Tutterow will direct.

According to Wayne Drabowski, he is what the Neanderthals evolved into. His room is what caves evolved into. And his isolation is what life evolved into at the end of a 20th century where no one really knows what's happening on the other side of the wall. In a struggle to escape his isolation, Wayne finds himself more and more entangled with his elderly landlady, Mrs. Walker, and three unusual boarders with whom he shares the bathroom and refrigerator. Love surfaces where he least thought he would find it and leads him to discover the unexpected in himself, his neighbors, and a boarding house born out of the mysterious and violent death of an Army Colonel seven years ago.

"How I Became an Interesting Person" has received staged readings at the US National Playwrights Conference at the O'Neill and the Playwright's Kitchen series at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, been translated into Croatian and presented in a script-in-hand production at The National Theatre of Istria in Pula,

Croatia, and received showcase production by PlayBrokers, Inc. at ODC Theatre in San Francisco. It is the recipient of the Charles MacArthur Fellowship at the O'Neill, a finalist for the Humana Festival at The Actors Theatre of Louisville, and was presented as an international showcase at the Australian National Playwrights Conference in Canberra, New South Wales, in 1999.

 Will Dunne has been selected three times by the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center to present work at the US National Playwrights Conference. His plays "Hotel Desperado," "Love and Drowning," and "How I Became an Interesting Person" generated a Charles MacArthur Fellowship for comedy, translations into two other languages, and staging and guest attendance at the National Playwrights Conferences of Russia, Australia, and Croatia. His play "The Ascension of Carlotta" is being produced this spring by the 16th Street Theatre in Berwyn, IL (2008). In partnership with Chicago Dramatists, "Deep Gardens" was produced at Chicago's Second City. "Moonrise" and "Good Morning, Romeo" were finalists for the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville. West Coast productions of "Eleventh Hour," "I Married a Werewolf," "The Bridge," and "Between Quakes" received four Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, two DramaLogue Playwriting Awards, and a Best-of-Year mention from the San Francisco Examiner.

"Hope VI" by Nambi E. Kelley
April 23 – May 31, 2009

 The world premiere of "Hope VI," by resident playwright Nambi E. Kelley, will be presented from April 23 to May 31, 2009, with opening night on Friday, April 30, 2009. Chicago Dramatists Associate Artist Ilesa Duncan will direct.

"Hope VI" tells the story of Hope Graves, age six, a high spirited and funny young girl who has become strangely quiet since her mother beat her in the head with a steel-toed boot.  A scar covers the length of her face, but she escapes the pain of her dreary life into the world of TV.  "Hope VI" is the journey of her dream and her family's struggle to survive after the wrecking ball hits the Robert Taylor homes on Chicago's Southside.

 Nambi E. Kelley is an award-winning, published and produced playwright.  Her work has included projects for Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago and Lincoln Center Theater in New York City.  Honors have included  2004-05 TCG Candidate for Playwriting, Goodman Theatre, Chicago; 2004 O'Neill Playwrights Conference nomination; 2004 Finalist, Chesterfield Writer's Film Project, Paramount Studios; three children's play commissions for Unibooks in Seoul, Korea, 2004.  Her plays have been produced in Chicago at MPAACT and Prop Thtr.

 "Many Voices Project" Showcasing Playwrights of Color
July 16 – 19, 2008

In 2006, Chicago Dramatists' "Many Voices Project" marked Chicago's first playwriting contest and readings festival embracing all playwrights of color.  Working together with Chicago's race- and ethnic-specific theatres, Chicago Dramatists will seek out theatrical works by minority playwrights from around the country.   From this pool, three will be selected to have their work showcased in a week of staged readings and workshops, held Thursday-Sunday, July 16 through 19, 2009, with the winning play receiving a $1,500 cash prize.

 A New Play Every Week with "The Saturday Series"
September 6, 2008 – July 25, 2009

 "The Saturday Series," Chicago Dramatists' foremost developmental program, has presented a staged reading of a play-in-progress followed by a moderated audience discussion most Saturdays at 2 p.m. since 1979.  "The Saturday Series" connects Chicago Dramatists' playwrights with Chicago's best directors and actors, provides networking opportunities between playwrights and theatres, and introduces Chicago audiences to the next generation of American Playwrights.  Over 1,300 plays have been developed through "The Saturday Series" since its inception 29 years ago.  In addition to staged readings, the series also offers quarterly panel discussions on playwriting related topics and the popular 10-Minute Workshop.

For more information, contact Brian Loevner or Russ Tutterow at 312-633-0630,, or visit the theatre's web site at


Emerging playwright Laura Jacqmin is the recipient of the second annual Wasserstein Prize, established in memory of the esteemed playwright Wendy Wasserstein, who died in 2006.  The $25,000 prize is awarded for an outstanding script by a young woman who has not yet received national attention.  The prize is funded by the Educational Foundation of America.

Established in 2006 by the Dramatists Guild of America and the Educational Foundation of America in memory of their friend Wendy Wasserstein, a strong advocate for emerging women writers, the Wasserstein Prize is intended for a writer to whom $25,000 will make a substantial difference in a professional life.  It is the hope of the Guild and the Foundation that the prize will ease financial pressures on the recipient and provide her with national exposure and encouragement.

Laura Jacqmin, 25, is a Chicago-based playwright. She is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, a member of the New Voices Network (an affiliate of The Old Vic Theatre), and a co-founder of the Yale Playwrights Festival.  Her plays have been produced and developed by Victory Gardens Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Culture Project, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, Aurora Theatre Company and the inaugural National New Play Network's University Playwrights Workshop at the National Center for New Plays at Stanford University.

A graduate of Yale University and Ohio University's MFA playwriting program, Jacqmin was a semifinalist for the 2008 P73 Playwriting Fellowship, a finalist for the 2007 Dorothy Silver Playwriting Competition and has earned commissions from Collaboraction and Victory Gardens Theater.  She is also the recipient of a 2006 Ohio University SEA research and development grant for her play 10 Virgins, which will receive its world premiere this May in Chicago Dramatists' 2007-2008 season.  Her play entitled And when we awoke there was light and light was her entry for the Wasserstein Prize.

In addition to the $25,000 cash award, as the winner of the Wasserstein Prize, Laura Jacqmin will receive a complimentary renewal of her membership to the Dramatists Guild of America, the only membership organization dedicated to protecting the rights of playwrights, composers and lyricists.  She also will be given the opportunity to have a professionally cast and directed rehearsed reading in New York City, presented by Second Stage Theater.

 Playwrights were nominated for the prize by leading theatrical practitioners from across the country knowledgeable about new plays and emerging playwrights.  Theatrical professionals, many of whom were friends and colleagues of Wendy Wasserstein, read and evaluated 21 plays for the prize this year.  This year's final selection panel consisted of Andre Bishop, Stephen Graham, Beth Milles, Jonathan Reynolds, Carole Rothman and Linda Winer.

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