“Safe” is named winner of 2015 Great Gay Play Contest

Donna HokePride Films and Plays has for the last five years celebrated unique voices in the annual Great Gay Play And Musical Contest with a festival of staged readings in the Hoover-Leppen Theater at Center on Halsted. This year, four new plays and one new musical were performed as enhanced staged readings to enthusiastic audiences.

And as the weekend concluded, Safe by Donna Hoke was named the winner, based on scores submitted by readers across the country who judged our 2015 entries, and by comments and reactions from PFP’s Artistic Ensemble and audience members who watched all five readings.

In Safe, Hoke portrays events in the life of central character Nancy. In 2011, a young gay teen hangs himself–but the events leading to the suicide began decades before, in 1986, when bullies tormented Nancy and her closeted best friend. Twenty-five years later, the cycle continues when Nancy is confronted by another bully–her son.

Donna Hoke is Western New York regional representative for the Dramatists Guild, and her work has been seen in 33 states (so far!) and on five continents. Her full-length plays include The Couple Next Door (currently in rep in Romania), Seeds (Artie award winner for Outstanding New Play), Flowers In The Desert (AACT top 20 finalist), and Safe (winner of the Todd McNerney National Playwriting Contest, Naatak National Playwriting Contest, and the 2015 Great Gay Play and Musical Contest); she’s also authored more than two dozen short plays that have had hundreds of productions. Donna is also a New York Times-published crossword puzzle constructor; author of Neko and the Twiggets, a children’s book; and founder/co-curator of BUA Takes 10: GLBT Short Stories. For the past three years, she’s been named Buffalo’s Best Writer by Artvoice, the only woman to ever receive the designation. You can read more about her adventurous day getting to Chicago, and her response to the work done by the Pride Films and Plays team here.

The other finalists in the contest are all production ready, and include:

  • At A Certain Age by Steve Shade
  • below by Samantha Charlip
  • Family Holiday by DC Cathro
  • Pen, a musical by Leo Schwartz and DC Cathro

(Please note the below is not capitalized.)

Here are synopses of the works and author bios:

At A Certain Age by Steve Shade, Claremont, CA

At A Certain Age, a play in 8 scenes, explores the shifting dynamics in gay male relationships from teenage to senior years, addressing identity crises and life passages instigated by coming out; companionship and bonding; independence and control; coupling and uncoupling; marriage and family; aging and the contemplation of solitary life.

Steve Shade has directed/devised over 70 productions with an eye towards Shakespeare/classical texts and new work/adaptation. In addition to his produced plays/adaptations, he has been a professor at several Southern California colleges, authored well over a dozen guides on a range of classical/contemporary plays, and recent work includes teaching/directing incarcerated youth in the Gateway Program of the juvenile justice system.

below by Samantha Charlip

The lives of two heroin addicts living below an overpass are thrown into disarray when a letter reveals one of them has a daughter who is getting married.

Samantha Charlip is an NY-based playwright and MFA recipient of NYU Tisch’s Dramatic Writing Program. Plays include: Futurama (Finalist: O’Neill, Source Festival, Ingram Lab, Athe Award; Semifinalist: Shakespeare’s Sister Fellowship, Princess Grace Fellowship, Nominations: Kennedy Center) and below (Semifinalist: O’Neill). Samantha was awarded Tisch’s Full Tuition Departmental Fellowship.

Family Holiday by DC Cathro

RJ goes home for the holidays and a nice relaxing time with his parents, sister, nana and best friend. They, however, have other plans. Secrets are revealed and RJ is stuck in the middle of this fast-paced holiday farce for modern times.

DC Cathro is a playwright, actor and director in the DC metropolitan area. His play Commemorative Edition received a reading in PFP’s The Sochi Plays and his play Limits was selected as part of the Kennedy Center Page-to-Stage series with The Theatre Alliance in Washington, DC.

Pen, a musical by Leo Schwartz and DC Cathro

Unhappy from a recent breakup and looking for a distraction, Paul starts corresponding with a pen pal in another state. Soon, what began as an innocent flirtation evolves into an emotional attachment that neither of them expected. The problem? Paul’s pen pal is a prisoner, incarcerated for 13 more years.

DC Cathro is a playwright, actor and director in the DC metropolitan area. His plays have received readings in Chicago, Maryland and Washington, DC. Leo Schwartz is a winner of numerous awards including a Jeff.  He is a multi-faceted composer, lyricist, and book writer. To hear his works visit www.leoschwartz.com

About Pride Films and Plays

Founded in 2010, Pride Films and Plays has received 12 Jeff Nominations, and 3 Jeff Awards for productions in our first three Jeff eligible seasons. The 2014-15 season included four Jeff Recommended Chicago or world premieres, including Terrence McNally’s Some Men, Jeff Talbott’s The Submission, Leo Schwartz’s musical The Book of Merman and Topher Payne’s Angry Fags. In addition, our script and screenplay development programs continue throughout the year at Center on Halsted, including Gay Play Weekend (May 15 to 17), Women’s Words (September 11 to 13) featuring plays and screenplays written by women with lesbian characters or themes, and Gay Film Weekend (November 13 to 15) featuring LGBT screenplays and screenings. Our Queer Bits Film Fest dates for 2015 are June 1 and November 9.

For more information on contests or productions, visit www.pridefilmsandplays.com.

About Center on Halsted

Center on Halsted is the Midwest’s most comprehensive center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people of Chicagoland. More than 1,000 community members visit the Center every day, located in the heart of Chicago’s Lake View Neighborhood. For more information, visit: http://www.centeronhalsted.org