About Blues

Thank you for your interest in American Blues. Please read our mission and history - including the establishment in 1985, the rebirth in 2009, and up to our present. We proudly commit to new work development and the Blues Team. We gathered some frequently asked questions and encourage any other inquiries. Read recent critical responses and honors of some of our latest productions.

Mission & History

American Blues Theater is the premier American theater producing visceral theatrical works while engaging its audience in worthwhile missions of local service agencies. American Blues Theater illuminates the American ideas of freedom, equality, and opportunity in the plays we produce and communities we serve.

American Blues Theater’s multi-generational and inter-disciplined Ensemble & Artistic Affiliates comprise all aspects of theater, television, and film. As of 2014, we’ve individually received over 131 Joseph Jefferson Awards celebrating excellence in Chicago theater, 2 Pulitzer Prize nominations, 2 Academy Award and nominations, 4 Golden Globe Awards and nominations, 14 Emmy Awards and nominations, 6 Writers’ Guild Awards, 20 Black Theatre Alliance Awards and nominations, 21 After Dark Awards, 13 Broadway World Chicago Awards, and multiple Regional theater awards from New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Florida. American Blues Theater is the second-oldest Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago. Our 39-member Ensemble has nearly 500 combined years of collaboration on stage.

New Work

American Blues Theater is committed to developing the classic plays and musicals of tomorrow. Our new work development consists of a variety of programs – including World and Regional Premieres, the Blue Ink Playwriting Award, Blueprint commissions, and Ripped: the Living Newspaper Festival of new short-plays. More than half of our mainstage productions are World and Regional premieres. American Blues Theater does not accept unsolicited scripts. However, we do accept unsolicited ten-page samples. Before submitting materials, we strongly encourage you to read our mission statement, research our production history, and see a production at American Blues to experience our interests and aesthetics.

Blue Ink Playwriting Award

Blue Ink Ward Logo
Submissions of new plays for our 2015 award will open July 1, 2014. The winning play will be selected by Producing Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside and the theater’s Ensemble.
The winner of this annual competition will be awarded the Blue Ink Playwriting Award of $1,000 and receive a staged reading at American Blues Theater in Chicago.
The Blue Ink Playwriting Award was created in 2010 to support new work.

See Additional Guidelines Submissions will be accepted by American Blues Theater from July 1, 2014 to September 1, 2014. Playwrights may only submit one (1) manuscript each year for consideration.

Previous winners include Douglas Post’s Comden Mall Community Activists (2014), Elaine Romero’s Graveyard of Empires (2013), Christina Gorman’s American Myth (2012), and Stephanie Walker’s American Home (2011). In addition we’ve named seven (7) finalists and 21 semi-finalists since the award’s inception.