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Amy Herzog, Dominique Morisseau, Penelope Skinner and More Among 2017 Finalists for The Suzan Smith Blackburn Prize

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has announced 10 Finalists for its prestigious playwriting award, the oldest and largest prize awarded to women playwrights.

Chosen from over 150 nominated plays, the Finalists are:

Clare Barron (U.S.) - Dance Nation

Zinnie Harris (U.K.) - This Restless House

Amy Herzog (U.S.) - Mary Jane

Charlene James (U.K.) - Cuttin' It

Charley Miles (U.K.) - Blackthorn

Dominique Morisseau (U.S.) - Pipeline

Lizzie Nunnery (U.K.) - Narvik

Somalia Seaton (U.K.) - Fall of the Kingdom, Rise of the Foot Soldier

Jen Silverman (U.S.) - The Moors

Penelope Skinner (U.K.) - Linda

The Winner of the 2017 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize will be named at the Awards Ceremony on March 6 at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. The Winner will be awarded a cash prize of $25,000, and 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.

The Judges for the 2017 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize are, in the U.K., director Maria Aberg, actor Nina Sosanya, and writer and dramaturg, Jenny Worton. U.S. Judges are director Evan Cabnet, actor Sarah Paulson, playwright and director Robert O'Hara.

The Houston-based Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is named after the noted American actor and writer who grew up in Houston and lived in London during the last 15 years of her life. Over 350 plays have been honored as Finalists since the Prize was established in 1978 to honor English-language plays by women. Many of the Winners have gone on to receive other honors, including Olivier, Lilly, Evening Standard and Tony Awards for Best Play. Eight Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist plays have subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

The 2016 Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Sweat by Lynn Nottage, recently enjoyed a sold-out run at The Public Theater, and is set to open on Broadway in March. Subsequent to winning the 2012-2013 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for The Flick, Annie Baker was honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Steinberg Playwright Award. The 2013-2014 Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood also won the U.K.'s Olivier Award for Best New Play and the Evening Standard Award for Best Play.

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, Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare, and Moira Buffini's Silence.

Former Judges of The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize over the past thirty-nine years are a Who's Who of the English-speaking theatre and include Edward Albee, Eileen Atkins, Blair Brown, Zoe Caldwell, Glenn Close, Harold Clurman, Colleen Dewhurst, Edie Falco, Ralph Fiennes, Greta Gerwig, Sam Gold, John Guare, A.R. Gurney, Mel Gussow, David Hare, Jeremy Herrin, Garry Hynes, Judith Ivey, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tony Kushner, Phyllida Lloyd, Francis McDormand, Janet McTeer, Tanya Moodie, Cynthia Nixon, Joan Plowright, Diana Rigg, Marian Seldes, Fiona Shaw, Max Stafford-Clark, Tom Stoppard, Meryl Streep, Daniel Sullivan, Jessica Tandy, Sigourney Weaver, August Wilson and George C. Wolfe among more than 200 artists and theatre professionals in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.


Clare Barron- Dance Nation

Clare Barron is a playwright and performer from Wenatchee, Washington. Her plays include?You Got Older with Page 73, directed by Anne Kauffman (Obie?Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist, Drama Desk Nominee, Kilroys List);?I'll Never Love Again (The Bushwick Starr, NYTimes & Time Out Critics' Picks); Baby Screams Miracle?(Woolly Mammoth, Clubbed Thumb Summerworks);?andDance Nation, which recently co-won the inaugural Relentless Award established in honor of Philip Seymour Hoffman. She is the recipient of the 2014 Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship and the Paula Vogel Award at the Vineyard. She's also a member of New Dramatists, and an Affiliated Artist with Target Margin and Masrah Ensemble in Beirut, Lebanon, where she played Mae in an Arabic-English production of María Irene Fornés' ?Mud.

Zinnie Harris- This Restless House

Submitted by The National Theatre of Scotland

Zinnie Harris's plays include the multi-award winning Further than the Furthest Thing (National Theatre / Tron Theatre - winner of the 1999 Peggy Ramsay Award, 2001 John Whiting Award, Edinburgh Fringe First Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist), This Restless House, winner of Best New Play at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland, How to Hold Your Breath (Royal Court Theatre - joint winner of the Berwin Lee Award), The Wheel (National Theatre of Scotland - joint winner of the 2011 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist) ,Nightingale and Chase (Royal Court Theatre), Midwinter (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist), Solstice (both RSC), Fall (Traverse Theatre / RSC) and By Many Wounds (Hampstead Theatre). Adaptations include Ibsen's A Doll's House for the Donmar Warehouse, and Strindberg's Miss Julie for the National Theatre of Scotland. Zinnie received an Arts Foundation Fellowship for playwriting, and was Writer in Residence at the RSC, 2000 - 2001. She is a part-time Senior Lecturer in playwriting at St Andrews University, and the Associate Director at the Traverse Theatre.

Amy Herzog- Mary Jane

Submitted by Yale Repertory Theatre

Amy Herzog's plays include 4000 Miles (Lincoln Center; Obie Award for the Best New American Play, Pulitzer Prize Finalist), After the Revolution (Williamstown Theater Festival; Playwrights Horizons; Lilly Award), The Great God Pan (Playwrights Horizons), and Belleville (Yale Rep; New York Theatre Workshop; Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist; Drama Desk Nomination). Amy is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, the Benjamin H. Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Helen Merrill, the Joan and Joseph Cullman Award for Extraordinary Creativity, and the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award. Amy has spent time in residence at the MacDowell Colony and the Orchard Project and she was the Playwright in residence at Ars Nova. She is a Usual Suspect at NYTW and an alumna of Youngblood, Play Group at Ars Nova, and the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. She received her MFA in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, where she currently teaches.

Charlene James- Cuttin' It

Submitted by Playful Productions

Charlene James is an award-winning playwright and trained as an actress at Birmingham School of Acting and at The School at Steppenwolf, Chicago. She was writer in residence at Birmingham REP for their season focusing on mental health and wrote for the Young Theatre Makers which premiered at the Birmingham REP before touring. Cuttin' It premiered at Young Vic before touring to Royal Court, Birmingham Rep, Sheffield Theatre and The Yard. Charlene won the Alfred Fagon Award, George Devine Award, UK Theatre Award, Evening Standard Award and Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Cuttin' It. It was adapted for BBC Radio 4 an aired as Drama of the week. It won an Audio Drama Award. She is currently on the 4Screenwriting course and has written for the BBC.

Charley Miles- Blackthorn

Submitted by West Yorkshire Playhouse

Charley is a playwright from North Yorkshire. She is currently the Channel 4 Playwright in Residence at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, where her first play Blackthorn was produced in 2016. In 2005, she won Alan Ayckbourn's 'Young Playwright' award at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, and has been on residency at the North Wall Arts Centre in Oxford.

Dominique Morisseau- Pipeline

Submitted by Lincoln Center Theater

Ms. Morisseau is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Williamstown Theatre Festival), andDetroit '67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie's (Premiere Stages). She is alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer's Group, Women's Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab and Eugene O'Neil Playwrights Conference. Her work has been commissioned by the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Women's Project, South Coast Rep, People's Light and Theatre, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Penumbra Theatre. She currently serves as Executive Story Editor on the Showtime series "Shameless." Awards: Stavis Playwriting Award, NAACP Image Award, Spirit of Detroit Award, Weissberger Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper New American Play Prize, TEER Spirit Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama (Detroit '67), and Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist and OBIE Award (Skeleton Crew).

Lizzie Nunnery- Narvik

Submitted by Box of Tricks Theatre

Lizzie's first play Intemperance (Liverpool Everyman 2007) was awarded 5 stars by The Guardian and shortlisted for the Meyer-Whitworth Award. She co-wrote Unprotected (Liverpool Everyman/Traverse Edinburgh 2006), awarded the Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression. The Swallowing Dark (Liverpool Playhouse Studio/Theatre503 2011) was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Her new play with songs Narvik (Box of Tricks Theatre) tours nationally January-March 2017. Other forthcoming work includes The Sum (Liverpool Everyman, May 2017) and The Snow Dragons, a play for young people for the National Theatre's Connections series. Lizzie is also a singer and songwriter, and has written extensively for BBC radio.

Somalia Seaton- Fall of the Kingdom, Rise of the Foot Soldier

Submitted by The RSC

Ms. Seaton is a British writer and actress of Jamaican and Nigerian parentage, born and raised in South-East London. Her debut play Crowning Glory was shortlisted for the 2014 Alfred Fagon Award. Her work has been produced by Clean Break, The RSC and The Yard. She is currently under commission to Talawa & The Bush, Tonic Theatre and The Tricycle. Writing credits include: Fall of the Kingdom, Rise of the Footsoldier (RSC) House (Clean Break - Assembly Rooms - Edinburgh/ The Yard London), Love Letter to the Cloud Seekers (National Youth Theatre), Curly Fries and Bass (The Lyric/Harts Theatre), Mama's Little Angel - staged reading (The Yard Theatre), Hush Little Baby (Open Works Theatre Co./Soho Theatre).

Jen Silverman- The Moors

Submitted by The Playwrights Realm

Jen Silverman's work includes The Moors (Yale Repertory Theatre, off-Broadway at The Playwrights Realm), Phoebe in Winter (Off-off Broadway at Clubbed Thumb), The Roommate (Actor's Theatre of Louisville, South Coast Repertory, SF Playhouse), and Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops (Woolly Mammoth, The Theater @ Boston Court). The world premiere of All the Roads is upcoming at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Jen is a member of New Dramatists and a Core Writer at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. She is the 2016-2017 Playwrights of New York (PoNY) Fellow at the Lark and has a two-book deal with Random House for a collection of stories and a novel. Education: Brown, Iowa Playwrights Workshop, Juilliard. Website:

Penelope Skinner- Linda

Submitted by Manhattan Theatre Club

Two of Penelope's plays received world premieres last season: The Ruins of Civilization at Manhattan Theatre Club and Linda at The Royal Court Theatre in London. The Village Bike premiered upstairs at the Royal Court and made its American debut at MCC Theater in 2014 starring Greta Gerwig and directed by Sam Gold. Her other plays include Fred's Diner (Magic Theatre, San Francisco; Chichester Festival Theatre), Eigengrau (Bush Theatre), and Fucked (Old Red Lion). She also writes for television and film, and co-wrote a graphic novel Briony Hatch, with her sister Ginny Skinner.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride

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