OU Alumnus Wins Playwriting Competition

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A graduate of Ohio University has won a national playwriting award celebrating diversity.

Nathan Ramos, who earned a BFA in acting in 2009, earned first place in the “2042: See Change” playwriting competition organized by East West Players, an Asian American theater organization.

“We were really looking for fresh, new voices that both reflected the landscape now and were looking forward,” said Snehal Desai, East West Players literary manager and artistic associate.

As the first-place winner, Ramos won a cash prize of $5,000, and East West Players will present a reading of his play, titled Base Degrees, sometime in the coming year.

Base Degrees is the first play Ramos has written, and it tells the story of a first-generation Asian American who struggles to find his voice as a writer living in New York City.

Nathan Ramos (Mayumi Ando)
Nathan Ramos (Mayumi Ando)

Describing the play as “whip smart” and “very, very funny,” Desai said the play has a lot of contemporary references, including the way technology affects the way people interact.

“It’s very much about a generation that’s both optimistic and inspired by the opportunity that’s in front of them,” while at the same time “kind of overwhelmed by what to do with that opportunity,” he said.

Funded with support from the James Irvine Foundation, the competition is part of a larger initiative by East West Players to promote diversity in American theater. East West Players holds a competition every three years, and this year’s contest sought work that reflected the changing American or transnational landscape. The name “2042” refers to the year that some believe people of color will become the majority population in the U.S.

Ramos, who said the play was semi-autobiographical, also described his time at OU as a big influence in his career.

“I can’t say enough wonderful things about it,” Ramos said, adding that his time at Ohio University was “truly my formative years.”

A native of Strongsville, Ohio, Ramos originally pursued journalism at OU before switching to theater. Since graduating, he has worked as actor and teacher in Cleveland and New York, where he lives.

The mission of the East West Players is to produce artistic works and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific experiences.