Judges: Rob Long, Bob Balaban, Jeremy Kareken, Christian Camargo, Johnathan Leaf
BRAT by Jason Pizzarello. BRAT is the story of a mother and son – both veterans of the forever war in Afghanistan – as they struggle to reintegrate into the civilian world and mend their broken relationship. Jake signed up to follow in his mother’s footsteps, but doesn’t get what he expected when he returns home to confront everything, and everyone, that’s been waiting for him.
The judges said the following about BRAT: “Mysterious, emotionally sound, haunting — it’s also clearly a very personal piece. The language is lean and spare, the opening is terrific, and the last scene is gripping.”
LOCAL GODS by Anton Sattler. LOCAL GODS is the story of longtime military police officer Miriam who abruptly quits the Army after four tours in Iraq to throw everything she has into making a fresh start at home. But as she and her husband Damon attempt to reintegrate into civilian life, revisiting her old haunts and old friends, home feels like unfamiliar territory. Unfolding in tandem with flashbacks of memories, emails, and imaginings that won’t let Miriam go, this play is a keenly observed, poignant portrait of the losses we suffer when we go to war, and the losses we suffer when we come back.
The judges said, about LOCAL GODS, “Authentic, panoramic, fascinating. Lots of terrific detail and dialogue and chock-full of story and characters. A haunting story about the interaction between the services and how men can and can’t show care for each other.”
LUCKY by Phanésia Pharel. On the Caribbean island of Quisqueya (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), where war has erupted, vulnerable bodies are under the reign of soldiers and fire. A Waitress escapes onto a resort in the midst of writing her novel; telling the story of a luminous
young woman named Lucky. As the Waitress writes the novel comes to life, shifting between the resort and Lucky’s world. As the Waitress weaves Lucky’s path to womanhood, Lucky is forced to redefine home and sacrifice her body. What does triumph look like in a world numb to Black girls suffering?” The women of LUCKY refuse to burn.
About LUCKY, the judges said, “Beguiling, moving, deeply satisfying — and genuinely original. Her theatrical devices were both enchanting and extremely credible. She offers a fresh look at Creole and Haitian cultures and how both have been affected by wartime. The pacing and dialogue are terrific, and the end of the play delivers a richly-earned gut punch.”
Judges: Fred Graver, David Tucker, Cynthia L. Davis, Jeremy Kareken, Jeffrey Sweet
TECTONIC MELANGE by Deborah Yarchun. When Tara, a petroleum geologist, surveys for minerals in a small town in North Dakota, she uncovers more than she expected- including deep community tensions and a darker side of herself.
About TECTONIC MELANGE, the judges said, “We opened our judging session with one question: Was there one play that really stood out for you, that really felt special. Every judge mentioned Tectonic Melange. The characters felt real. There was a world in the play, and a story that was wonderfully motivated and driven by the characters. There was a bit of a “Local Hero” (the old movie from Bill Forsyth) feel to it. We loved the metaphor of the giant cake. The production notes were spot-on – we could “see” the play in our heads.”
GOOD MOURNING by Christopher Soucy. When an unknown woman disrupts a funeral with an outburst of emotions the grieving family is caught entirely off guard. But when she shows up at the family’s home, the mystery surrounding her deepens.
About GOOD MOURNING, the judges said, “We felt that the family was wonderfully well drawn. We really got a sense of each character throughout the play. It felt real to us, and we felt that we were really “in” their lives. As well, the mourner character was well done. In fact, you could have revealed her earlier and allowed her to continue in her role. You don’t need to rely on a surprise revelation. (Although keeping the secret of who hired her is a good idea.) This is a terrific piece of work.”
The third-place finalist is Marine Corps veteran Francisco Manuel Martinezcuello for his Iraq War drama SALSA NIGHT.
About SALSA NIGHT, the judges said, “We were quite taken with the ideas around the staging of the play. It’s innovative, adventuresome and totally engaging. We’ve never really seen these types of characters interact before. You brought out those characters beautifully. The ending really hit us. A very strong piece of work.”