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Christopher Brian Wolk Award


Announcing the 2014 winner of the Christopher Brian Wolk Award for Excellence in Playwriting: Mike Bencivenga for his script, Summer on Fire.

Abingdon Theatre Company proudly announces that playwright Mike Bencivenga, author of the recent Off-Broadway hit Billy & Ray, will receive its 2014 Christopher Brian Wolk Award for his play Summer on Fire.

Summer on Fire is a comedy about sexual misconduct, political turmoil, burgeoning fame, elusive justice, and long-lasting love. Due to a scheduling snafu, an ultra-right wing commentator for FOX News must share his Fire Island rental home with a decidedly left-wing young, lesbian singer and her girlfriend. The clash of politics and personalities make for a lively Labor Day weekend in the summer of 2008.

Directed by Bjorn Johnson, the Summer on Fire reading features Katie Branden, Dan Brady, Rebecca Hart,  Allison Mackie, Annie Meisels, Nick Searcy and Addison O'Donnell. 

The finalists for this year's award are:
Richard Atkins for DelikateSSen
Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich for Romeo Chang
Martyna Majok for Petty Harbour
Jenny Seidelman for Henry Moore Is Melting
Howard Waxman for 18 Villa Seurat.

During his career, Mike Bencivenga has written, directed, produced and acted in one-act and full-length plays (with MTC and Lightning Strikes Theater Company) as well as improv comedy (as one of the Chainsaw Boys) and sketch comedy in New York, Chicago, Boston and LA. In addition to Summer on Fire, Bencivenga’s full-length plays include Single Bullet Theory, Couplets (a play with music that he created using Shakespeare’s sonnets as the dialogue and lyrics), Billy & Ray, and Bad Hearts. In 2013, Billy & Ray won the prestigious W. Keith Hedrick Award for best play and enjoyed a sold out, extended run at The Falcon Theatre in Burbank. The production, directed by the great Garry Marshall, was described by the LA Times as "a delicious world premiere." Billy & Ray just completed a successful, extended Off-Broadway run at The Vineyard Theatre. For film, he wrote and directed Losers in Love starring Nick Searcy and co-wrote and directed Happy Hour starring Anthony LaPaglia and Eric Stoltz. Bencivenga is also an Emmy Award-winning editor/producer at WABC-TV in New York. He attended Adelphi University and NYU Tisch School of the Arts


Christopher Brian Wolk was a talented and creative actor, musician, singer, writer and composer who died in an accident while visiting Glacier National Park, Montana. To honor his memory, Abingdon Theatre Company and the Wolk family have created the Christopher Brian Wolk Award for Excellence in Playwriting.

Christopher worked extensively with Abingdon in both the workshop and the Mainstage Productions of Zona, the Ghost of Greenbrier, the staged reading of Floodwatch, and in-house readings of The Debating Society and The Weight of Breath.

At other NYC theatres he appeared in Delicious Vaudeville, Girls We Have Known, The Drummer Must Die, and Poor Fellas, which has been published by Dramatists' Play Service and is dedicated to Chris's memory. He also developed his own work, Sons of Katherine, as well as numerous short films. A graduate of Marquette University, he interned at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre performing in The Merchant of Venice and Sex, Death and Friday Night at Theatre X.

The Award

In an ongoing effort to recognize excellence in playwriting, the award is presented annually to an American writer of a new, full-length play. The award is based upon the writer's demonstrated ability to reach a mature artistic vision. This is yet another way in which Abingdon supports theatrical work, while honoring the memory of a great actor and true friend.

The winner receives a $1,000 cash award and a staged reading of the script at the award ceremony held in our June Havoc Theatre in Manhattan’s Mid-town Fashion District.

Previous Winners

2013  Sheldon Bull, Mallorca
Produced by Abingdon Theatre Company, May 29-June21, 2015

2012  Rob Winn AndersonThe 10th Son
2011  Jack Canfora, Poetic License
Produced by The Director's Company at 59E59 Theatre

2010  Stephen Spotswood, Aronsville Woman
Produced at Northern Kentucky University

2009  Joel Fields, How I Fell In Love
Produced by Abingdon Theatre Company , January 21-February 13, 2011

2008  Frank Tangredi, Pastoral 
         Optioned for commercial production

2007  Mark Eisman, Shove 
         Produced by The Road Theatre Company, Los Angeles, CA

2006  Tim Slover, Treasure
         Produced by Fulton Theatre, New Lancaster, PA
         and University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

2005  Nancy Moss, Hostage Wife 
         Produced by the Kumu Kahua Theatre in Honolulu, HA

2004  Daniel Damiano, Dreams of Friendly Aliens 
         Produced in Abingdon's 2006-2007 season

2003  Stuart Warmflash, Shortly After Takeoff  
         Produced by Harbor Lights Theatre Company, NY, NY

2002  Cheryl Royce, The Passion of Claire 
         Produced by Hudson Stage Company, Croton-on-Hudson, NY

2001  Christopher Bailey, Mandrake and the Marsh People
         Subsequently developed at Lord Leebrick Theater Company, Eugene, OR

Selection Process

The literary department selects the initial pool of scripts from all those submitted during the year-long submission cycle. A three-person Nominating Committee, including the Literary Manager, reviews the selected pool of scripts to nominate six finalists. A Selection Committee is comprised of Jan Buttram, Artistic Director, three respected theatre professionals and a member of the Wolk family review the six finalists without knowing the name of the playwright and choose the winning script.

Submission Guidelines:


  • You are an American citizen or have permanent resident status.
  • Your script has a running time of at least 75 minutes.
  • The script has not been produced in New York City for critical review.
  • Cast requires no more than eight (8) actors; character doubling is fine.
  • A printed copy of the entire script is required.
    • We do not accept scripts by email.
    • Do not send sample pages or treatments.
  • Be sure to include: name, address, phone and email address.
  • The script must be bound, e.g. brass fasteners, 3-prong folders or spiral binding, etc. - binder clips are NOT acceptable.
  • A full character breakdown, if roles are doubled, include how the roles are doubled.
  • A short synopsis.
  • Your writing bio.
  • Development and/or production history of the script if applicable.
  • Include a SASE if you want your materials returned.
  • Note: All correspondence is by email. If you do NOT have an email address, you must include a SAS postcard or envelope to receive a receipt acknowledgement.
 Also keep in mind:
  • Playwrights may submit one and only one script for each of our submission cycles, e.g., June 3, 2014 to June 1, 2015.
  • Scripts are considered only once for the Christopher Brian Wolk Award.
  • Scripts that are an adaptation of copyrighted materials or incorporate copyrighted materials, must include a statement stating that the playwright has obtained the rights to use such material.
  • We do not consider musicals. 
Submit your script to:

Kim T. Sharp, Literary Manager
Abingdon Theatre Company
312 West 36th Street, Sixth Floor
New York, NY 10018-7570


Playwrights chosen as finalists will be asked to submit additional copies of the chosen work for evaluation by the Selection Committee without identifying markings (your name or your address, etc.). 

Winners receive:

A $1,000 cash prize and a staged reading.

Christopher Brian Wolk


   2014 Winner Mike Bencivenga (center),          
   Artistic Director Jan Buttram (right) and         
   Lisa Wolk (left), with (l-r, second row) Annie   
   Meisels, Board Member Maria de Vries,          
   Rebecca Hart, Nick Searcy, director Bjorn    
  Johnson, Allison Mackie, Addison O'Donnell,
  Katie Branden and Dan Brady.                            
Abingdon Theatre Company