Jon Hoche and Raymond Lee star in South Coast Repertory's 2015 world premiere of “Vietgone” by Qui Nguyen. (Debora Robinson/SCR)
Jon Hoche and Raymond Lee star in South Coast Repertory’s 2015 world premiere of “Vietgone” by Qui Nguyen. (Debora Robinson/SCR)

OU Alumnus Playwright Shortlisted for Kennedy Prize

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Ohio University Theater Division alumnus Qui Nguyen (M.F.A. 02’) recently made the 2016 shortlist for the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, recognizing his 2015 play Vietgone.

Nguyen was recognized alongside five other playwrights including Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Paula Vogel and Lynn Nottage.

Vietgone is written as a loose interpretation of how Nguyen’s Vietnamese parents met in America. Described as an all-American love story about two very new Americans, he gets up close and personal to tell the story that led to his own creation.

The play premiered at South Coast Repertory Theater, Costa Mesa, California on Oct. 4, 2015. Los Angeles Times critic Charles McNulty said the production careened wildly, “threatening whiplash to heighten our amusement. By the end, however, this riotous theatrical cartoon won me over with its simple honesty.”

Finalists were selected through nominations from a group of 20 theater professionals around the country. The Edward M. Kennedy Prize is given annually through Columbia University to a new play or musical that enlists theater’s power to explore the past of the United States and to participate meaningfully in the great issues of our day through public conversation. The Prize will be announced on or after Feb. 22, 2016, with the winning play receiving a $100,000 award.

Qui Nguyen is a playwright, screenwriter and co-artistic director of the OBIE Award-winning “geek theater” company, Vampire Cowboys, which produces new works of theater based in action/adventure and dark comedy with a comic book aesthetic, exposing audiences to thought-provoking live entertainment rooted in today’s pop-culture vernacular.

He is a recipient of the 2015 New York Community Trust Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, 2014 Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellowship, 2014 McCarter/Sallie B. Goodman Fellowship, the 2013 American Alliance for Theatre and Education Distinguished Play Award for She Kills Monsters, and 2012 and 2009 GLAAD Media Award nominations for his plays She Kills Monsters and Soul Samurai.