Winners of the 2023 Nuevas Voces playwriting contest
Winners of the 2023 Nuevas Voces playwriting contest
Photos Via Google

Seventh Annual Nuevas Voces Playwriting Contest

The Independent attended the opening night of Nuevas Voces in September 2023 and featured this year’s winners. Jim Blair, former NEIU professor and alum, created Nuevas Voces to shine a light on student creations and a way to show peers’ creativity in the performing arts. Blair also founded the College of Arts and Sciences Education Program (CASEP). He visited Nuevas Voces to congratulate the 10-minute play winners.

First Place: “Two People” by Victor Braeseke, awarded $250. Second Place: “It’s My Move” by Samuel Jin Seo, awarded $200. Third Place: “The Interns” by Luke Steadman, awarded $150. The honorable mentions were “The Palestine/Israeli Conflict” by Michael Gross, “The Hated Ones” by Anmol Galati, and “Tripping on Xanax at a Mumford and Sons Concert” by David Lipschutz, who were each awarded $75.

The Plays

The first play of the evening was “The Interns” by Luke Steadman, featuring six interns, each named numerically with different personalities. Among them were the pervert, the one with anger issues, the stuck-up one, the Gretchen Weiners-type, the owner’s slacking son, and the one willing to go to great lengths to secure a permanent position. The set was simple, yet they used all the props. During one scene, a pill bottle filled with Smarties to simulate pills fell on the floor, creating a large sugary cloud that enveloped the audience.

The following play “It’s My Move” by Jin Seo centered on the main character who is down on his luck and struggling to find a job. The mess from “The Interns” still covered the stage and the attention was drawn to the somewhat crushed-up smarties that had covered the stage. Despite the initial distraction, the audience’s attention gradually returned to the actors as the story unfolded. In this play, we had characters known as the stressed, the funny, and the girl who had her life together. The actors’ actions included cleaning up the stage, adding to the memorable scene.

The final play took a more serene approach, emphasizing that, regardless of social class, we are all human and can coexist. “Two People” by Victor Braeseke was set on Wall Street in New York City. The leftovers from the past scenes added to the chaos that is New York’s streets. There was one homeless character who was kind to everyone and a woman who was recently fired from her Wall Street job, more stressed than ever. This winning piece encouraged reflection from the audience, especially among NEIU’s population, which hails predominantly from Chicago where it’s common to see panhandlers and homeless folks. The takeaway question was how we treat those less fortunate when we have no personal connection to them. Do we ignore them or extend a helping hand?

These three plays all shared a common theme; how humans treat one another and what can be done to improve other people’s lives. This theme harks back to medieval theater, where entertainment had a deeper meaning.


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