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Kristiana Colon Wins Arizona Theatre Company Latino Playwriting Award for OCTAGON

Kristiana Colón's Octagon, the unlikely story of eight young poets' win-at-all-costs and damn-the-consequences approach to the three-minute competition of a poetry slam, has been named the 2014 winner of Arizona Theatre Company's National Latino Playwriting Award.

Colón, a Chicago-based poet, playwright, actor and educator, will receive a $1000 award.

The National Latino Playwriting Award was established by Arizona Theatre Company Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein to create a greater awareness of the work being done by Latino playwrights.

Against the backdrop of a last-minute poetry slam competition, eight young poets traverse stages and the tightropes of their braided desires. With three minutes to sway the judges, they must decide which is more important: the points or the poetry, the privilege of free speech and expression or the celebrity that comes along. Octagon infuses theatre with poetry slam in a way that's never been seen, ripping open the clichés of the open mic while asking the cost of the spectacle of ripping open our wounds.

"The judges savored the rich linguistic tapestry of Kristiana Colón's exciting new play, Octagon," said ATC Playwright-in-Residence Elaine Romero. "Theatre and poetry slam together is the theatrical equivalent of spontaneous combustion in this new play that looks at the personal and the political and how tough it can be to parse the two."

Colón, who also is an Ensemble member at Teatro Luna, toured the United Kingdom for two months in 2013 with her collection of poems, promised instruments, published by Northwestern University Press. In the fall of 2012, she opened her one-woman show, Cry Wolf, in Chicago while her play, but I cd only whisper, had its world premiere at London's Arcola Theater. She appeared on Season 5 of HBO's "Def Poetry Jam."

Runner-up for the 2014 award was Marrio Correa for Commander, the story of an ambitious politician battling public doubts, personal demons and his alcoholic partner in a troubled quest to become America's first openly gay president. Set very much in the current day, Commander explores the outer limits of tolerance; what Americans will tolerate from those who lead us, and what human beings will tolerate from those who love us.

"The judges are honored to recognize Mario Correa's sharp political drama, Commander, that looks at the candidacy of a gay presidential candidate." Romero said. "Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein calls Commander 'A play of this moment.'"

Correa came to the U.S. from his native Chile at age six, working for a number of years in national politics before dedicating himself to writing. His play Tail! Spin! - a verbatim re-creation of four real-life political sex scandals - drew plaudits from The New York Times and other leading outlets, earned a 2013 GLAAD Media Awards nomination for Outstanding Off-Off Broadway Theater and will open commercially Off-Broadway this fall. He also has written for television and documentary film, been a regular contributor to NPR and serves as co-host of Entertainment Weekly magazine's daily "News & Notes" program on SiriusXM.

One previous National Latino Playwriting Award-winning play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Previous award-winning plays have been featured at the Humana Festival and at regional theaters across the country. Other recipients of the award include: Marisela Treviño Orta, Caridad Svich, Carlos Murillo, Octavio Solis, and Karen ZacarÍas.

Felix Pire's winning play The Origins of Happiness in Latin was produced by ATC. Edwin Sànchez's La Bella Familia and Michael Mejias's Ghetto Babylon were given staged readings as part of ATC's Café Bohemia.

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