Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Shortlist Announced

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Susan Smith Blackburn

The finalists have been announced for the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Over 160 international pieces were nominated with just 10 making it to the final. The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize celebrates Women+ writers (including transgender women and non-binary people). It is the oldest and largest prize awarded to women+ playwrights. 

The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize as well as a signed print by Willem de Kooning designed especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Each finalist will receive $5,000 and one piece could be recognised with a $10,000 Special Commendation Prize. 

This year the judges are director Natalie Abrahami, actor Paapa Essiedu, designer Bunny Christie, director Lileana Blain-Cruz, actor Jason Butler Harner and director Seema Sueko. 

Leslie Swackhamer, the Executive Director of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize said “in this time of crisis when our theatres are dark, our readers and judges have found great solace and inspiration in connecting with the vibrancy of this work. These plays are fierce, brave, and compelling. Bold in their narrative strategies, the plays are inventive and provocative. These are strong and utterly unique voices which celebrate theatricality and our common humanity.” 

Swackhamer added “Many of these playwrights had their plays postponed, cancelled, and interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now more important than ever to celebrate their work. Theatres may be dark at this moment, but when they come back to glorious life, these incredible plays will light up the darkness” 

The winner will be announced in April. 

Full List of Nominees:

Glace Chase (AUS/US), Triple X.

Erika Dickerson-Despenza (US), cullud wattah.

Miranda Rose Hall (US), A Play for the Living in the Time of Extinction.

Dawn King (UK), The Trials.

Kimber Lee (US), The Water Palace.

Janice Okoh (UK), The Gift.

Ife Olujobi (US), Jordans.

Frances Poet (UK), Maggie May.

Jiehae Park (US), The Aves.

Beth Steel (UK), The House of Shades.

Words by Orla McAndrew.


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