Ashland New Plays Festival announces winners

Ashland New Plays Festival today announced the four winning playwrights whose work will be presented Oct. 19-23 at ANPF 2016. They are:

• Michael Erickson for "Oberon Springs";

• Beth Kander for "Hazardous Materials";

• Mike Teele for "EdanEv"; and

• Stephanie Walker for "The Madres."

The winning plays were selected from 400 that were submitted. They were read and scored in blind readings by ANPF’s core of volunteer readers, who reduced the candidates to 12 finalists. From them, Artistic Director Kyle Haden chose the four winners.

The playwrights will travel to Ashland for a week of receptions, rehearsals, a playwriting workshop and other events that will culminate with dramatic readings of their plays, which will be performed at the Unitarian Center. Talk-backs will follow each performance.

Beth Kander returns to Ashland for a second consecutive year, having won in 2015 for her play "The Bottle Tree." In "Hazardous Materials," the Chicago-based writer of plays, children's books and novels examines the course of several lives as investigators sort through the detritus left by an unidentified woman in a Chicago apartment.

Kander’s works have been recognized by The Ruckus’ 2016 summer festival; BechdelFest 2016; Ashland New Plays Festival 2015; The Kilroys List (Honorable Mention 2015, 2016); Leapfest 2015; Downstage Left residency 2014-2015; Charles M. Getchell New Play Award 2012; and three Eudora Welty New Play awards. She studied comedy writing at The Second City and is currently pursuing a master's degree in creative writing at Mississippi University for Women.

Michael Erickson has had plays produced by theaters and colleges including the Ensemble Studio Theater, MadLab, Moving Arts, the Imaginary Theater Company and Tesseract Theater. "Oberon Springs" looks at the impact of environment on the increasingly poor health of people in a small Indiana town, and a young physician’s struggle over whether to continue her life and her medical practice there.

Erickson was playwright-in-residence at the Nashville Repertory Theatre and Coe College. His awards include an NEA Fellowship in Playwriting; a California Arts Council Award; and the Mobil International Playwriting Prize (Royal Exchange Theatre, England). His "Alien Hand Syndrome" was published in Regional Best 2011, an anthology of new plays. "Last Tree, Easter Island" will be published this fall in the Smith and Kraus Inc. anthology 105 Five-Minute Plays for Study and Performance. A graduate of the MFA Theater Program at the University of California, San Diego, Erickson teaches playwriting at Webster University in St. Louis.

Mike Teele lives in New York City. His work has been performed at theaters that include the Theatre for the New City, HERE Performing Arts Center, Abingdon Theatre, John Houseman Theater, Producers Club, Hudson Guild and Catch a Rising Star. He has produced more than nine works for the stage and was a Walt Disney Studios /ABC-TV Fellowship finalist.

"EdanEv" tells the story of four college friends reunited in mid-life for a family wedding, and the life-altering decisions each makes about the next chapters of their lives.

Teele also created and wrote "The Real Friends," a live weekly sitcom that played NYC comedy clubs, and has written dozens of educational films for kindergarten through senior high. He was awarded the Cine Golden Bear International Film & Video Award for his work.

Stephanie Walker is a Chicago native who now lives in Los Angeles. Her full-length plays have garnered awards, workshops and productions across the country, including the 2015 critically acclaimed premiere of "The Art of Disappearing" at Chicago’s 16th Street Theater.

"The Madres" explores the experiences and activism of the Argentine women whose children disappeared during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. The play has been chosen for a number of awards, including finalist for the 2016 O'Neill Playwrights Conference, for the Source Festival in DC, and for the Humanitas/CTG Playwriting Prize; and for the BETC Generations Prize.

Walker is also author of the book and blog "Love in the Time of Foreclosure," which has been called “a heartbreaking work of staggering acceptance” and featured by the Los Angeles Times, NPR, Business Week Magazine, and ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer.

For more information about ANPF, visit www.ashlandnewplays.org.

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