The inaugural theme was proposed by Fight Master David Woolley, inspired by the print of Emile Bayard’s “An Affair of Honor” that hung on his living room wall. Each entry to the contest was required to incorporate the moment depicted in the print: a duel between two women on a secluded country road. The competition netted the Babes over 40 one-act entries, from locales ranging from our native Chicago to South Africa and New Zealand. The two winning one-acts, Chicagoan Byron Hatfield’s Mrs. Dire’s House of Crumpets and Solutions and New Zealander Tony Wolf’s Satisfaction, were staged at the Viaduct Theater, April 7 – May 14, 2006, under the title An Affair of Honor. Each playwright received the Ballantyne Award, which carried with it a $500 stipend.
José Ribera’s painting Duelo De Mujeres (The Duel of Women) was the focus of the next round of JS&P. Encouraged by the response to the first round, the Babes decided to request full-length plays rather than one-acts in 2007-8, and received over 20 full-length entries. The winning play, Chicagoan Barbara Lhota’s Los Desaparecidos (The Vanished), was staged at the Raven Theatre, April 6 – May 11, 2008. Directed and choreographed by Fight Master David Woolley, Los Desaparecidos (The Vanished) was the first BWB production to feature a mixed-gender cast. Ms. Lhota received the Margaret W. Martin Award, which carried with it a $1000 stipend.
Rather than focusing on an already-created image for their third round, the Babes turned to Chicago artist Kristine Borcz, who provided them with a charcoal sketch entitled Film Noir. Once again the Babes requested full-lengths, and received 17. The winning play, Los Angeleno Arthur M. Jolly’s A Gulag Mouse, opened 3/29/10 at the Trap Door Theatre, and ran through 5/1/10. Mr. Jolly received the Margaret W. Martin Award, which carried with it a $1000 stipend.
Our fourth competition brought forth two firsts! Erinyes, by Victoria Szilagy, won the FIRST Inspiring Sword & Pen art competition. The Babes requested full-length plays based on this artwork, and received 16. The winner, Trash, made Arthur M. Jolly the FIRST two-time winner of Joining Sword & Pen! Trash, featuring two rotating casts, opened 4/1&2/12 at The Side Project Theatre and ran through 5/5/12. Mr. Jolly received the Margaret W. Martin Award, which carried with it a $1000 stipend.
Gabriella Boros was the winner of Inspiring Sword & Pen 2012. We couldn’t chose between her two amazing pieces, Medieval 1 and Medieval 2 so we chose both! These pieces formed the basis of Joining Sword & Pen 2013-14. Jeff Goode won JS&P 2013-14 with his comedic script, Witch Slap!. Witch Slap! opened on 8/16/14 on the West Stage at the Raven Theatre Complex and ran until 9/20/14. Mr. Goode received the Margaret W. Martin Award, which carried with it a $1000 stipend.
Jessie Swiech, a Central Illinois-based actress and an artist in a variety of mediums and styles, won IS&P 2014 with her piece Death and Sleep With The Fallen Warrior. The image inspired 17 scripts during the run of JS&P 2015-16. The winner of the 6th round of BWBTC’s playwriting competition was The Promise of a Rose Garden by Dustin Spence, an exploration of what it means to be a soldier and the far-reaching effects of war. It opens on 8/6/16 on at City Lit Theater and runs until 9/10/16. Mr. Spence will receive the Margaret W. Martin Award, which carries with it a $1000 stipend.