Judges: Rob Long, Bob Balaban, Jeremy Kareken, Christian Camargo, Johnathan Leaf
15 DEAD SOULS by Leilani Squire. 15 DEAD SOULS is set in the realm where the wounds of the soul exist. Doris, a nurse who served during World War II, waits for James, a grunt who fought in Vietnam. The ghosts of those James killed during the war still haunt him. Doris sees his wounds and guides him to the river. Is that enough for James to forgive and return home?
The judges called the play “poetic, touching, powerfully written. Earnest — which is good — but also not sentimental. Haunting and affecting.”
ELBOW. APPLE. CARPET. SADDLE. BUBBLE. by Donald Ranard. A poignant take on the civilian-military divide in the US, ELBOW. APPLE. CARPET. SADDLE. BUBBLE. is the story of two young American men sharing a hospital room – an athletic civilian with lacrosse injury and a young veteran who is barely conscious – and the wildly different expectations, experiences and struggles they face at only 19 years old.
The judges described the play as a “subtle and effective slice of life mini-drama. Realistic dialogue and a well-constructed story — not easy within such a short form!”
NOW DEPARTED by Arthur Boatin. A character-driven piece, NOW DEPARTED is the story of a chance meeting by small-town natives Rhonda and Clayton. They learn who have in common and compare notes on parenting, drinking, and losing a partner.
The judges called the play “Immediately involving. It features great dialogue from quirky and utterly believable characters. The author seems to have great affection for his characters and it shows — and is a big part of the success of the piece.”
Judges: Fred Graver, David L. Tucker, Cynthia L. Davis, Jeremy Kareken, Jeffrey Sweet
The winner is Army veteran Mike Oppenheim for his drama THE SIDE OF CAUTION. THE SIDE OF CAUTION is a gritty look at the conflict of idealism and realism in the Vietnam War.
The judges said, “This play presents a vision of combat…It is innovative, sharp and shocking in its depiction of casual brutality. Well-done. Great job.”
The runner-up is Denis Meadows his drama A BRUSH AGAINST THE INDIFFERENCE OF THE UNIVERSE. Meadows is the brother of a Vietnam veteran. The play centers on Benjy and Chaim, two paintbrush salesmen trying to deal with a bad economy, and a turbulent time – with poignant, surprising results.
The judges said, “We were totally intrigued with the interplay between Benjy and Chaim. It felt a little bit like Arthur Miller meets Beckett. Really a first-rate piece of work.”
The third-place finalist is military daughter Arianna Rose for her clever and ironic SEX, LIES AND STYROFOAM.
The judges said, “We loved the two characters and their off-handed, everyday exchange in the middle of a laundromat. To be perfectly honest, the judges “saw the ending coming,” fairly early on – but we felt that just meant we were enjoying the play more. Congratulations! We really enjoyed this piece.”