In 2016, Seattle Public Theater announced a new biennial $10,000 prize to be awarded by the organization.

New plays are vital to bringing us new ideas; they invite and often compel us to examine and engage with this ever-changing world from different perspectives. In these times of anti-intellectualism and echo chambers, we as an arts organization are committed to producing works that foster an intellectually curious community that meaningfully engages with ideas and with people. We are thrilled the Emerald Prize will be the genesis of one of those new conversations and contribute to the national theater landscape.

A 10 person Invitation Committee of nationally recognized new play professionals were each asked to submit 5 names of established or up-and-coming playwrights with the condition that of those five at least three must identify as either a female, a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ community, a resident of the Pacific Northwest, or any intersection thereof. In the end, 50 playwrights were invited to submit a one page proposal for an unwritten play.

Following a blind reviewal process of this highly-competitive field of proposals, Seattle Public Theater narrows the field down to five finalists. Finalists then submit their full proposals for consideration, and are interviewed by the Artistic Team.For the Emerald Prize’s inaugural cycle, Aurin Squire (best known was chosen as the winner in March 2017. Squire was awarded $10,000 to write his play, which received a developmental workshop and a series of staged readings. Seattle Public Theater then produced this World Premiere play (FIRE SEASON) as part of our 2018-19 Season. The conversation sparked by his play led to the Seattle community’s deeper engagement with the opioid crisis in Washington State, and gave space for people to grapple with emotionally-charged topics like healthcare, addiction, racism, and poverty.For the most recent award cycle, Seattle Public Theater is proud to have announced Sam Hamashima as the current Emerald Prize playwright. Sam will be awarded $10,000 to write SUPPOSED HOME. According to Sam, “SUPPOSED HOME is less about the specifics of Japanese American Internment [during World War II], and more so about the emotional and cultural impacts the incarcerations had on these young bodies. SUPPOSED HOME exposes the dilemmas many of these victims have until they pass away in their later years: Am I Japanese or American? Was I put in prison or moved to a safe place? Were the assimilationist teachings [of the internment camps] helpful or hurtful? Am I an enemy of America?”

We are thrilled to announce our 2019 Winner

Sam Hamashima