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Ucross and The Blank Theatre Announce Semi-Finalists For Future of Playwriting Prize

Ucross and The Blank are partnering to showcase the importance of emerging artists across the country.

Ucross, a prestigious artist residency program and creative laboratory for the arts in Wyoming, and The Blank Theatre, a Los Angeles institution celebrating 30 years of imaginative theatre, today announced the semi-finalists for the newly created Ucross + The Blank Theatre - Future of Playwriting Prize, a one-of-a-kind award for young playwrights nationwide. Ucross and The Blank are partnering to showcase the importance of emerging artists across the country and to celebrate the innovative work that is asking questions and evolving theater as we know it.

In alphabetical order, the semi-finalists are Kori Alston, Calley Anderson, Carissa Atallah, Rae Binstock, Zachariah Ezer, Lily Gonzales, Franky Gonzalez, Katherine Gwynn, Cassandra Hsiao, India Kotis, Joey Massa, Kyle J. McCloskey, Tristen Moseley, Haley Nelson, Charlie Oh, Alicia Margarita Olivo, Dave Osmundsen, Becca Padrick, A.K. Payne, Phanésia Pharel, Aurora Real de Asua, Isaiah Reaves, Jaymes Sanchez, Jasmine Sharma, Alexander Utz, Caity-Shea Violette, Ashley Rose Wellman, Pravin Wilkins, and LaDarrion Williams.

The grant jury, in alphabetical order, is Ryan Bergmann (director specializing in new play development, Mixed eMotion Theatrix Executive Director); Beth Bigler (playwright/teacher, director of Blank Theatre Youth Academy, Blank Theatre board member); Shelli Boone (actor/director, artistic director of Willie Agee Playhouse); Melissa Coleman-Reed (director at Inkwell Theater); Lisa Sanaye Dring (actor/playwright/director, associate artistic director of Circle X Theatre Company); Josh Gershick (playwright); Fay Hauser-Price (actor/director/writer/producer); Kate Jopson (director, voiceover artist, co-founder of Aliso Experiential Company); Levi Jelks (playwright); Kila Kitu (actor/director, Black Women State of the Union); Jully Lee (actor/director, artistic director of Cold Tofu); Jer Adrianne Lelliott (actor/director, founder of Coeurage Theatre Company); Amir Levi (actor/director/producer); Annie McGrath (producer/creative executive); Bree Pavey (actor/director/producer, producing director of The Blank Theatre, managing director of Loft Ensemble); Michael A. Shepperd (actor/director/producer, artistic director of Celebration Theatre); Cece Tio (producer at Moving Arts and Playwrights Union); Joseph Valdez (actor/playwright); Jennie Webb (playwright/dramaturg, LAFPI co-founder); Carolina Xique (actor/writer/director); Daniel Henning (actor/director/voiceover artist, Founding Artistic Director of The Blank Theatre); and Angela Oh (actor/director, Blank Theatre board member).

The jury will now review each semi-finalist's complete submission (comprised of an artistic statement, a short play, and a full-length play) and select finalists. All finalists will receive an online personal interview with the administrative body of the jury, including representatives from Ucross. The winner will be announced at the end of March; the cash award and residency at Ucross will follow.

The chosen playwright will receive a $5,000 cash award, a professionally produced staged reading in The Blank Theatre's Living Room Series (a new play development program), and a two-week residency at Ucross's 20,000-acre ranch at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains (including transportation). Two additional finalists will each be awarded $500 cash prizes.

At Ucross, artists in residence experience an inspiring combination of solitude and community, with expansive time for private work, as well as lively exchanges at group dinners with fellow artists. Facilities include four visual arts studios, four writers' studios, and two composers' studios, and a large loft space suitable for dance and theatre collaborations.

Ucross was founded in 1981. Since its founding, Ucross has provided more than 2,500 residencies to established and emerging artists. Ucross provides a platform that nurtures and supports artists, many on the eve of major career breakouts. Ucross has been home to 10 Pulitzer Prize winners, eight MacArthur "genius" grantees, seven Tony Award winners, six National Book Award winners, and two Academy Award winners. Alumni include Billy Porter, Colson Whitehead, Yaa Gyasi, Annie Proulx, Terry Tempest Williams, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Ricky Ian Gordon, and Adam Guettel.

The Blank was founded in 1990 by Daniel Henning and the theater's over 70 mainstage productions have won 13 LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, eight LA Weekly Awards, five LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, four NAACP Awards, 20 Back Stage Garland Awards, four BroadwayWorld Awards, and received hundreds of other nominations. Named "One of the Best Theatre Companies in America" by the Drama League, The Blank was honored by the LA City Council and won the Hollywood Arts Council's Award "for pursuing artistic excellence and nurturing the next generation of playwrights."

The Ucross + The Blank Theatre - Future of Playwriting Prize is made possible by Deb and Ed Koehler and the Raymond Plank Philanthropy Fund.

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