“The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is an extraordinary award and a vital part of the theatrical landscape in both the UK and the US. It has been at the vanguard of the movement to promote female playwrights and theatre makers for over thirty years. We need this award now, more than ever and I’m extremely proud, as a Trustee of the Prize to be welcoming the 2016 award ceremony to the National Theatre.”
Deputy National Theatre Artistic Director Ben Power
This year’s Susan Smith Blackburn Prize will be awarded tonight at The National Theatre, the first time the Presentation Ceremony has taken place at there.
The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is the oldest and largest prize awarded to women playwrights. The winner will be awarded a cash prize of $25,000 (£17,320), and will also receive a signed print by renowned artist Willem de Kooning, created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Each of the additional finalists will receive an award of $5,000 (£3,460).
Many of the winners have gone on to receive other honours, including Olivier, Evening Standard and Tony Awards for Best Play. Eight Susan Smith Blackburn finalist plays have subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. The 2013-2014 Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood also won the Olivier Award for Best New Play and the Evening Standard Award for Best Play. Subsequent to winning the 2012-2013 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for The Flick, Annie Baker was honoured with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Steinberg Playwright Award as well as with the Horton Foote Legacy Project. Baker’s The Flick comes to the National Theatre in April this year.
Other recipients of the Prize include Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money, Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, Nell Dunn’s Steaming, Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, Katori Hall’s Hurt Village, Chloe Moss’s This Wide Night, Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House, Judith Thompson’s Palace of the End, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s Behzti (Dishonour), Dael Orlandersmith’s Yellowman, Julia Cho’s The Language Archive, Gina Gionfriddo’s U.S. Drag, Bridget Carpenter’s Fall, Charlotte Jones’ Humble Boy, and Naomi Wallace’s One Flea Spare.
Chosen from over 150 plays nominated by theatres, the finalists are:
Sarah Burgess (U.S.) – Dry Powder
Rachel Cusk (U.K.) – a new version of Medea by Euripides
Sarah DeLappe (U.S.) – The Wolves
Sam Holcroft (U.K.) – Rules for Living
Anna Jordan (U.K.) – Yen
Dominique Morisseau (U.S.) – Skeleton Crew
Lynn Nottage (U.S.) – Sweat
Suzan-Lori Parks (U.S.) – Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1,2 & 3)
Bea Roberts (U.K) – And Then Come The Nightjars
Noni Stapleton (Ireland) – Charolais
UPDATE: And the winner was… Lynn Nottage for Sweat.