Milwaukee – Renaissance Theaterworks, Milwaukee’s only professional theater company dedicated to promoting the work of women onstage and off, presents the Br!NK Award annually to two Midwestern women playwrights to help them develop and advance their work. This year’s award-winners – selected from over 50 submissions – are 28 LIGHT YEARS FROM NOW, by Rachel Bykowski, a story of  mothers, daughters and lost love, and TO SAINTS AND STARS, by Jordan Ramirez Puckett, about lifelong friends divided by their beliefs on religion and science. The Seventh Annual Br!NK New Play Festival will present these plays as virtual readings happening via Zoom on September 9, 11, 12 and 13, 2020.

The Br!NK Festival expands opportunities for women with the Br!NK Br!efs, a collection of fully-staged ten-minute plays. Unfortunately, the Br!NK Br!efs will not be produced this season due to the challenges of COVID-19.

Each year, the Br!NK playwrights spend a week in workshops developing their respective plays with the help of a director, cast, and dramaturg – a professional team dedicated to researching and considering the play from every angle. The goal is to bring the play closer to the playwright’s vision. This year, the workshops will happen virtually and the plays will be produced as virtual readings via Zoom. Immediately following the readings, the audience is invited to participate in a guided talkback session with the playwright and the artistic team. Audience feedback is essential to the Br!NK process. Feedback can be given at the talkbacks or submitted online.

Contemporary playwrights do not have many opportunities to introduce new work to audiences and statistically, women playwrights have even fewer. I have participated in many readings and performances of my plays in the past. I have never had a better experience than I did at Renaissance. ~Gwendolyn Rice, 2014 Br!NK Playwright


I know that my play is much closer to being production-ready because of Br!NK.

~Philana Omorotionmwan, 2016 Br!NK Playwright



By Rachel Bykowski

September 9 & September 12

7:00 pm (CST) on Zoom


By Jordan Ramirez Puckett

September 11 & September 13

7:00 pm (CST) on Zoom



Br!NK 2020 is free and open to the public via Zoom but registration is required to receive access to Zoom. A suggested donation of $20 can be given during registration to support the production of these plays and the work of Midwestern women playwrights. Registration information for Br!NK 2020 and other details can be found at



Rachel Bykowski (28 LIGHT YEARS FROM NOW)

Rachel Bykowski, a Chicago playwright, writes to explore the many facets of the female identity. Her full-length, 28 LIGHT YEARS FROM NOW, is the winner of 2020 Getchell New Play Award. Her full-length play, REV, was the runner-up for the 2018 Todd McNerney Playwriting Award, the winner of the 2019 SETC/Stage Rights Ready to Publish Award, and is now available for purchase on Amazon or through her publisher, Stage Rights. Her full-length play, TIGHT END, has been featured with The National New Play Network (NNPN) in a workshop at the Kennedy Center for the MFA Playwrights’ Festival in 2016, was a top 20 finalist for CulturalDC’s Source Theatre Festival in 2017, and received Honorable Mention for the Jane Chambers 2017 Student Playwriting Award. Rachel's other plays have been produced and featured in festivals across the United States. Rachel is a playwriting alumna with NNPN and a member of the Dramatists Guild. She received her BFA in playwriting from the Theatre School at DePaul University and her MFA from Ohio University.

In 1942, Josie and Fran meet at their secret rendezvous point to talk of the stars, love, and their future together. Their love is tested when Fran reveals that she is leaving to help the War effort with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Josie, unable to move past her family’s painful history with war, deserts Fran. Josie hears of Fran’s death in the War. 28 years later, a letter prompts Josie to revisit the past.

Jordan Ramirez Puckett (TO SAINTS AND STARS)

Jordan Ramirez Puckett is a Chicana playwright and lighting designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She often writes about being caught between two identities and our intrinsic desire for human connection, no matter how brief. She has designed lights for the world premiere productions of BAUER by Lauren Gunderson, 77% by Rinne Groff, and 1 2 3 by Lila Rose Kaplan, among others.  Her plays include EN LAS SOMBRAS, TO SAINTS AND STARS, A DRIVING BEAT, LAS PAJARITAS, RESTORE, and INEVITABLE. These works have been produced and/or developed by 2Cents Theatre Group (Los Angeles, CA), Abingdon Theatre Company (New York, NY), Custom Made Theatre Co. (San Francisco, CA), Goodman Theatre (Chicago, IL), Harold Clurman Laboratory Theatre Company (New York, NY), Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, National Winter Playwrights Retreat (Creede, CO), Playwrights Center of San Francisco, Playwrights Foundation (San Francisco, CA), Playwrights Realm (New York, NY), San Diego Repertory Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, among others. She most recently participated in the 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival.


Sofía, a NASA astronaut, and Zoe, the wife of a Greek Orthodox priest, have been friends since they were children and not a day has passed where they haven’t seen or spoken to each other. As their priorities drift further away from each other, their relationship begins to become strained and their lives are changed forever.

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Renaissance Theaterworks, “Theater by Women for Everyone”, is Milwaukee’s only women-founded, women-run professional theater company. Dedicated to promoting the work of women onstage and off, Renaissance Theaterworks creates theater that connects with all people – and what it means to be human – through vibrant, visceral storytelling. Founded in 1993 by Suzan Fete, Marie Kohler, Raeleen McMillion, Jennifer Rupp and Michele Traband, Renaissance Theaterworks is the nation’s second oldest theater company with a mission to promote gender parity in theater. Renaissance Theaterworks produces outstanding, artistically unsurpassed theater that makes audiences feel more, think harder, laugh louder.


Renaissance Theaterworks will permanently move its productions as resident theater company to the Next Act Theatre at 255 S. Water Street, beginning its 2020-2021 production season. “This bold move will allow us to continue on a positive trajectory for many years to come,” shares Managing Director Lisa Rasmussen. Administrative offices will remain on the 5th floor of the Broadway Theatre Center.

Renaissance Theaterworks is a member of the National New Play Network (NNPN), Theater Wisconsin, Samuel French’s Playwrights Welcome, Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee, Visit Milwaukee, and the Historic Third Ward Association. They receive support from the United Performing Arts Fund, Brico Fund, CAMPAC, the Evinrude Foundation, The Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the Richard & Ethel Herzfeld Foundation, Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation, Milwaukee Arts Board, Sempercor Foundation, the Shubert Foundation, the Bert L. and Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust, Wisconsin Arts Board, and private donors and foundations.