‘Blazingly Talented’ Playwright Wins Yale Drama Series Prize

The 2010 winner of the annual Yale Drama Series competition is Virginia Grise, who won for her play “blu,” about a Mexican-American family’s response to the loss of their oldest son in Iraq.

“Virginia Grise’s writing is blazingly talented and resonant, and the play stays with you long after you’ve read it,” said English playwright David Hare, who judged this year’s competition.

Grise will be awarded the David C. Horn Prize of $10,000; “blu” will be published by Yale University Press; and the play will receive a reading at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven in September.

The Yale Drama Series competition is open to any original, unpublished and un­produced full-length play in English. It is jointly sponsored by Yale University Press and Yale Repertory Theatre, with support from the David C. Horn Foundation.

A native of San Antonio, Grise is a Chicana cultural worker, writer, performer and teacher. Her work has been performed internationally, at venues including the Jose Marti Catedra in Havana, Cuba, and The University of Butare in Rwanda, Africa. Her published writing includes “The Panza Monologues” and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués entitled “Conversations with Don Durito.”

Her play “blu” was chosen from among 960 submissions. The second-place prize went to Mary Hamilton’s “Siona MacDuff,” about teenage anxieties and friendships, while third prize went to Tom Lavignino’s “Nineteen Kinds of Peril,” a series of interlocking monologues about life in an American retail chain store.

“Next year I hand over to a new judge,” said Hare. “Before I do, I would like to mention that I gave last year’s prize to Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig for ‘Lidless.’ This year there is another female winner. Of the 12 plays on this year’s short-list, nine were written by women. As a result of reading such a huge sample of new playwriting, I feel we have at last reached a tipping point. Women’s writing for the theater is stronger and more eloquent than it has ever been. Everyone working on this prize hopes to see that strength reflected in the repertory of theaters everywhere.”

Submissions for the 2011 Yale Drama Series competition must be postmarked no earlier than June 1, 2010, and no later than Aug. 15, 2010. For complete contest rules, visit www.dchornfoundation.org.

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