The Chicago-based scribes will each receive $1,000 for the annual award, which is named to honor the late Ted Heideman of Louisville whose sustaining grant makes the honor possible.
The winning works — Essmann's Johannes, Pyotr & Marge and Healy's Picnic (pic-nic): vi — will be produced as part of the 29th annual Humana Festival of New American Plays (Feb. 27-April 9).
In Johannes, Pyotr & Marge, "the three pillars of Romanticism," who share a birthday, "wax rhapsodic on music, Velveeta cheese and the struggle to recognize the beauty right in front of you," according to a release. The work will play April 2 and 3.
Picnic (pic-nic): vi finds the reunion of two best friends convening on the eve of a wedding — "complete with sandwiches, disco and the fear of irrevocable change," states the show description. The ten-minuter will play on a bill of eight others Feb. 2 at the Victor Jory Theatre.
A former actor, Essmann has penned a number of one-person shows. Artificial Reality was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and was followed by the cult hit Triplets in Uniform at La Mama. He also penned a musical, Bella, Belle of Byelorussia, with music by Michael John LaChiusa, which was staged by WPA Theatre. Former Actors Theatre literary intern Healy earned his M.F.A. in writing from The School for The Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently at work on a full-length play (working title: Relatively We or Loneliness Built the Bomb or How Einstein Wrote Hamlet or We’re All Going to Die Anyway So Why Can’t You Say You Love Me Now…) to be produced by Chicago's Open Eye Productions this summer.
For more information on the Heideman Award, visit the Actors Theatre website at www.actorstheatre.org.