jakub | March 20, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | Jesús I. Valles Wins 2023 Yale Drama Prize


Jesus I Valles. (Photo by Shade Literary Arts.)

NEW YORK CITY: Jesús I. Valles has won the 2023 Yale Drama Series Prize for his play Bathhouse.pptx, as chosen by playwright Jeremy O. Harris from more among more than 1,500 entries. Valles will receive $10,000, and his play will be published by Yale University Press.

In a statement, Harris called Bathhouse.pptx “one of the most exciting speculative fictions I’ve encountered in years, using a unique dramaturgy to explore a queer history that is quickly being erased. It brought to mind the works of many heroes like Samuel Delaney, Martin Crimp, and Kathy Acker.”

Valles is an educator, storyteller, poet, and performer from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. He is the recipient of awards and support from the OUTsider Festival, Teatro Vivo, the VORETEX, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Flea Theater. Valles is currently an MFA student at Brown University.

Valles describes Bathhouse.pptx as “a group project for perverts, somewhere between lecture, reenactment, and cruising ground.”

The Prize’s 2023 shortlist of plays includes Racism: an unfocused theatre essay by Asa Haynes, Trunk Brief Jock Thong by DJ Mills, Class by Chloe Myerson, and White Girls Gang by Rianna Simons. Valles and all shortlisted playwrights will attend Substratum, a new month-long residency program led by Harris in collaboration with fashion brand Gucci and Monteverdi Tuscany. Screenwriter Raffi Donatich has also been selected to attend the residency.

The Substratum attendees will receive financial assistance throughout their residency and will have onsite mentorship opportunities with rapper Kevin Abstract, filmmaker Janicza Bravo, documentarian Alexander Nanau, and playwrights Jordan Tannahill, Eliza Hittman, and Jasmine Lee-Jones, among others. An event will be held at Substratum to celebrate Valles’s award, and will also feature a public reading of the fellows’s works.

“I am delighted by the evolution of this prize,” Francine Horn, the founder of the David Charles Horn Foundation, which funds the Yale Drama Series Prize, said in a statement. Jeremy O. Harris has expanded the opportunities for our winners by establishing this new residency. I am thrilled for this first class of playwrights to be celebrated at Substratum.”

Now in its 20th year, the Yale Drama Series Prize is an internationally recognized playwriting award in cooperation with Yale University Press. The Prize is awarded to an emerging playwright after multiple readings by distinguished modern playwrights, an uses an international open submissions process.

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