Ucross, a renowned artist residency program and creative laboratory for the arts in Wyoming, and The Blank Theatre, a Los Angeles institution celebrating 31 years of imaginative theatre, today announced the winner of the second annual Ucross + The Blank Theatre Future of Playwriting Prize, a one-of-a-kind award for early-career 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 theatre as we know it.
The 2022 winner is Katherine Gwynn. Two additional finalists, Andrew Siañez-De La O and Gage Tarlton, will each receive a $500 cash prize. The winner and cash prize finalists were chosen by The Blank Jury (Tamadhur Al-Aqeel, Boni B. Alvarez, Ryan Bergmann, Beth Bigler, Jose Casas, Michelle Flowers-Taylor, Prince Gomolvilas, Sigrid Gilmer, Daniel Henning, Joshua Lamont, Amir Levi, Penelope Lowder, Annie McGrath, Angela Oh, Bree Pavey, Zander Pryor, Lee Sherman, Tamika Simpkins, Cece Tio, Jamila Webb, Jennie Webb, Betsy Zajko, and Prize Program Director Kila Kitu), in consultation with representatives of Ucross, funders Deb and Ed Koehler and the Raymond N. Plank Philanthropy Fund.
Gwynn will receive a cash award of $5,000, 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.
Gwynn (they/she) is a queer CODA Midwestern playwright, dramaturg, teaching artist, and producer who writes at the intersections of gender, queerness, disability, faith, and tenderness. They won the 2015 Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award and finished in second place for the EMOS Ecodrama Playwrights Festival (2022). Their work has been developed and produced by The New Coordinates, The Great Plains Theatre Conference, Terra Femina Collective, Commission Theatre, The Fishtank, and Rockhurst University. Finalist for Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference (2021), Playwrights Realm Scratchpad Series (2021), Bay Area Playwrights Festival (2018), Parity Productions Commission (2020), New Works Festival at Kitchen Dog Theater (twice), and LezPlay (2019). Three-time semi-finalist for Bay Area Playwrights Festival; semi-finalist for Story Theatre Resident Playwright, Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship (2019), and Ashland Play Festival (2019). Gwynn was a two-time invitee for Submission to the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Their play All I Wanna Do is Be Pretty Like You is currently being developed by The New Coordinates, and they are a playwright for the Jackalope Theatre’s Living Newspaper Festival (2022). Born in Kansas City, Gwynn now lives in Chicago.
Andrew Siañez-De La O (he/they) is a Mexican American stage and audio dramatist from El Paso, Texas. Blending magic and science fiction, his stage work often centers on his borderland culture, whether as a more whimsical examination of border heritages and indigenous roots (The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home, Pipeline Theatre Company, NYC) or a darker, more pointed examination of a separation policy’s effect on children (Borderline, Echo Theater Company, LA). His work has explored the pressure placed on first-and-second-generation children of immigrants (Sangre Mía, Playwrights Realm, NYC). His writing has been developed across the country at Stages Houston, Fresh Ink Theatre, Milagro Theatre, Company One, and others. He is a committee member for the WGA Audio Alliance, helping to build a more equitable future for creators of audio drama. He is a scriptwriter for the Latinx children’s fiction podcast Timestorm with Cocotazo Media, and his play The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home is currently being adapted for audio in partnership with Stormfire Productions. He has also begun work on his first young adult fantasy novel.
Gage Tarlton is a queer Gen Z theatre writer and artist, originally from North Carolina and now living in Brooklyn, NY. He holds a BA in Dramatic Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. His plays include exercise your demons: a play on the trauma of a gay male body (Victory Gardens Ignition New Play Festival), sons that wear dresses and mothers that love sweet potatoes (PlayMakers Repertory Company's Making Tracks Reading Series, The Kennedy Center Playwriting Workshop, finalist for The Parsnip Ship Season Six: Queer Theater, semifinalist for the 2020 O'Neill’s NPC and 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and Distinguished Achievement from KCACTF), and XXPonyBoyDerekXX. His first short film The Homiesexuals: a social media tragedy will be released in 2022. He is also a co-writer of the Broadway virtual experiences Our Offering and its sequel A Christmas Offering, both created by Sis. He is a 2019 Kennedy Center Playwriting Fellow, a 2021 finalist for Art House Productions' INKubator New Play Program, and a 2020 finalist and 2021 semi-finalist for the Echo Theater Company’s National Young Playwrights in Residence.
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 visual arts studios, writers’ studios, and composers’ studios, and a large space suitable for dance and theatre collaborations.
Ucross first began welcoming artists in 1983. Over the past four decades, 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 11 Pulitzer Prizes, nine MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships, nine National Book Awards, nine Tony Awards, two Academy Awards, and more. 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 theatre’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 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.”
Ucross + The Blank Theatre Future of Playwriting Prize is made possible by Deb and Ed Koehler and the Raymond N. Plank Philanthropy Fund.