Kristiana Rae Colón Wins 2014 Dionysos Cup with Slam Poetry Play OCTAGON
Polarity Ensemble Theatre will award the 2014 Dionysos Cup to Chicago playwright Kristiana Rae Colón for her new play OCTAGON, which is set in the world of slam poetry competitions. The play was selected as one of four finalist plays to be developed in Polarity’s annual Dionysos Cup Festival of New Plays. Over seventy plays by Chicago-area playwrights were submitted to the festival. Finalist plays were selected by committee and the winning play voted upon by audience members and Polarity staff. OCTAGON was also recently awarded the Arizona Latino Playwrights Award that carries a prize of $1000.
“We are really pleased to make this award,” said Richard Engling, Artistic Director of Polarity. “Kristiana’s play is a unique piece for the theatre, traveling from the private lives to the public performances of a collection of talented but volatile slam poets. Their politics, poetry, love lives and sex lives make for a fascinating journey. Kristiana is a remarkable talent with her ability to expose their inner stories and also create distinct poetic styles and subject matters for each of the poets. When they perform, you believe you are hearing the works of a half dozen distinctly different poets.”
“My work aims to blur the boundaries between spoken word and theater,” Kristiana said, “and so with Octagon, I decided to take the final leap and just set the entire play in the world of slam. It wrestles with the value of art in a world where free speech is simultaneously devalued by the hyperconnectivity of social media and imperiled by oppressive regimes. It’s a love letter to my upbringing in the world of slam poetry, but a love not without venom and thorns.”
2014 marks the seventh time Polarity has produced a Dionysos Cup Festival of New Plays. The festival provides a six month development process for the selected playwrights and affords them a series of feedback encounters with a director and dramaturg selected for their experience with new plays. To date eight plays developed in the Dionysos Cup have gone on to full productions. Most recently, Polarity’s production of NEVER THE BRIDESMAID by Bill Jepsen garnered a Jeff nomination for Best New Work for the playwright and the Jeff award for Best Principal Actress for Lindsey Pearlman. Polarity will present the world premiere of two Dionysos Cup plays in 2014-15: MIRACLES IN THE FALL by Chuck O’Connor opening September 6, 2014 and ANNA IN THE AFTERLIFE by Richard Engling opening April 25, 2015. On October 7, 2014Polarity Ensemble Theatre Books will also release two novels associated with Engling’s play as part of its AFTERLIFE TRILOGY: Fern Chertkow’s SHE PLAYS IN DARKNESS and Richard Engling’s VISIONS OF ANNA.
Kristiana Colón is a poet, playwright, actor, educator, ensemble member at Teatro Luna, and Cave Canem Fellow. She recently debuted her first hip-hop one-act Lack on Lack in Victory Gardens Theater’s 2014 Ignition Festival of New Works. Her play Octagonis the winner of Arizona Theater Company’s 2014 National Latino Playwriting Award and Polarity Ensemble Theatre’s Dionysos Cup Festival of New Plays. In February and March 2013, she toured the UK with her collection of poems promised instrumentspublished by Northwestern University Press. In autumn 2012, she opened her one-woman show Cry Wolf in Chicago while her play but i cd only whisper had its world premiere in London at the Arcola Theater. Kristiana appeared on Season 5 of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.
The 2014 Dionysos Cup also included OUTSIDE/INSIDE by Jenny Seidelman; Helen Young, Director; Neal Ryan Shaw, Dramaturg; THE PEOPLE OF CHICAGO by Helen Valenta; Jen Poulin, Director; Maggie Carlin, Dramaturg; and THE RUNNING MATE by Skye Robinson Hillis; Andrea Dymond, Director: Jesse Roth, Dramaturg. OCTAGON was directed by Tara Branham; Hutch Pimentel, Dramaturg. Sarah Grant was the Festival Producer. Artistic Director: Richard Engling.
Polarity Ensemble Theatre is a professionally diverse group of artists who strive to advance the state of Chicago theater for both local and international audiences by developing new works and bringing new life to the classics through live performance, workshops, and publishing. For more information, visit www.petheatre.com.