Evan Guilford-Blake writes plays, fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction for adults and children. He has had more than 40 different plays produced; collectively, they have won 39 playwriting competitions. Eighteen are published.
His prose and poetry have appeared in numerous print and online journals, among them Gem Street, Soundings Review, Southern Pacific Review and Wet Ink, as well as several anthologies, and won 12 contests. He has twice been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Noir(ish), his first novel (adapted from his multiple award-winning play of the same name), was recently published by Penguin's Dutton/Guilt Edged Mysteries imprint.
He and his wife (and inspiration), Roxanna, a healthcare writer and jewelry designer, live in the Atlanta area with their two dumb-as-dirt doves, Quill and Gabriella, and Winnie Words, a smart-as-a-whip Westeke terrier. More information is at Guilford-Blake.com
He is Resident Playwright emeritus at Chicago Dramatists (where he also serves on the advisory board, and where most of his work has been developed) and a member of the Dramatists Guild. He has served as an Instructor and Playwright-in-Residence at Utah State University and a responder and presenter for the American College Theatre Festival. He created the seminar "The Business of Playwriting: Developing and Marketing Your Play Without an Agent," which he has presented across the U.S. In 2008, he was selected for the Georgia Writers Registry and nominated for Southern Artistry.
American Blues was developed at Chicago Dramatists, and at Chicago?s Raven Theatre and Victory Gardens Theatre, over the course of several months, primarily with a group of actors I invited to participate in the process. I wrote it for two reasons: First, I'd recently written a 38-minute one-act entitled Tio's Blues in a workshop at Dramatists, and I wanted to create a companion piece that could use the same cast, to make a full evening of thematically related work. Second, one of my favorite plays is The Glass Menagerie. I was curious about the possibility of resetting Amanda and Laura into another era. Naurean of American Blues is my riff on an Amanda Wingfield of 1962, and Naurean?s daughter Amanda is both a homage to that Tennessee Williams' character and a reconception of Laura in The Glass Menagerie.
But I wanted to do more than contemporize Menagerie. I wanted to create a conflict between two diametrically opposite worlds. Thus, I turned for inspiration to a playwright whose characters and style are about as unlike Williams? as you can get: David Mamet. Trumpy and Lady Blue are my perceptions of people Mamet might have written, and their interaction with Naurean and Amanda is, I hope, what might happen if these two worlds collided.
The play is about truth and illusion, about dreams and dreams gone awry. With the opportunity to discuss this with a wonderful cast during the play?s development, I was able to use their insights to point up the dialogue, and theatricalise the play using Naurean's imagination as a setting.
Collectively, American Blues and Tio's Blues are called Mid-Century Blues. The individual plays have each won three awards. Neither the full evening nor either of the component works has been fully produced to date, but Tio?s Blues will premiere at the University of New Orleans in February. That production will be remounted at the 2010 New Orleans Literary/Tennessee Williams Festival in March, as the winner of the festival?s 2009 one-act play competition.
American Blues is a poetically staged story of dreams and desires crashing into unpleasant and ultimately dangerous reality. A mother and daughter chase true-love in the worst places. A trumpet player will do anything for his fix and anything to please his disturbed woman friend. The past and the present pass by on the dance floor. Beautifully imagined with the blues as a musically narrative backbone that pulls the lost souls of this piece to their tragic curtain call.
Tio is an idiot savant with a talent for playing the trumpet. Evan Guilford-Blake's skill with dialogue and characters make this both a horrific and beautiful story. Tio's music is a great example of what heights human beings can aspire to, and unfortunately, his smarter and more sinister brother shows us the reverse, what depths human beings can sink to. The unguided rage of Tio's girl friend needs only the fuel of an apparent injustice to burn Tio's house down. A great partner piece for American Blues.
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