Jesús I. Valles, a Mexican immigrant playwright, educator, poet, and performer, has won the 2023 Yale Drama Prize.
Currently an MFA Playwriting student at Brown University, Valles' play Bathhouse.pptx was selected from more than 1,500 entries by playwright Jeremy O. Harris and Francine Horn of the David Charles Horn Foundation, which funds the annual prize. Previous presiding playwrights have included Edward Albee, Paula Vogel, John Guare, and more.
As the 2023 prize winner, Valles will receive the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000, in addition to Bathhouse.pptx being published by Yale University Press.
Valles described Bathhouse.pptx thus: “This work is a group project for perverts. Somewhere between lecture, re-enactment, and cruising ground, an informative presentation on the history of cleanliness and bathing starts to burst at the seams with the ghosts of a bathhouse at the end of the world.”
The 2023 short list includes Racism: an unfocused theatre essay by Asa Haynes; Trunk Brief Jock Thong by DJ Hills; Class by Chloe Myerson; and White Girls Gang by Rianna Simons.
Valles and the other shortlisted winners will participate in a month-long residency with Harris, called Substratum, in collaboration with Gucci and the hotel Monteverdi Tuscany. They will be joined by screenwriter Raffi Donatich.
Substratum fellows will receive financial assistance throughout their stay, in addition to on-site mentorship opportunities with artists such as rapper Kevin Abstract, filmmaker Janicza Bravo, documentarian Alexander Nanau, playwrights Jordan Tannahill, Eliza Hittman, Jasmine Lee-Jones, and more. The residency includes a showcase of the shortlisted works that will be available to the public.
Now in its 20th year of existence (16th of awarding), the Yale Drama Series Prize is considered the preeminent English language playwriting award. Produced in cooperation with Yale University Press and the David Charles Horn Foundation, the prize is awarded annually to an emerging playwright that is selected from an internationally open submission competition. Criteria for submission includes that all work be original, previously unpublished, and full length.