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The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
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BWW Exclusive: Meet the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalists- Dawn King

Plus, read an excerpt from King's nominated play, The Trials.

As BroadwayWorld previously reported, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has announced 10 Finalists for 2021 for its prestigious playwriting award, the oldest and largest prize awarded to women+ playwrights. The Winner, to be announced on April 7, will be awarded a cash prize of $25,000 USD, and will receive a signed print by renowned artist Willem De Kooning, created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Ahead of the announcement, BroadwayWorld is excited to spotlight each of this year's finalists. Below, learn more about Dawn King and read an excerpt form her play, The Trials!

BWW Exclusive: Meet the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalists- Dawn King What does it mean to you personally to be recognized by such a reputable and respected organization?

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalists and winners list is a kind of virtual, global coven of powerful writing witches (to me, anyway.) Being invited to join that coven is a marvelous thing. I was also a finalist in 2012 for my play Foxfinder, so to be here again almost a decade later is a real affirmation and makes me feel pretty bloody keen to write some more plays. On a practical level, the nomination is like a flare going up over the work, it can lead people to read the plays and think about working with the writers, so it's incredibly useful.

What has happened since you were announced as a finalist?

My play The Trials was due to premiere in Germany this summer but now that production is delayed for a while. The play had not really been read by anyone else, in the UK or anywhere, prior to the announcement. I've had more interest since, requests to read the script, Etc. I can definitely attest to 'The SSB Effect'.

What's next? Do you have any new projects on the horizon, ideas that you'd love to put on paper, etc.?

I'm working on a couple of feature film projects; a screen adaptation of my play Foxfinder and a female fronted Sci Fi film, Pig Child. I'm also writing a radical, environmentally themed reinterpretation of The Cherry Orchard for director Katie Mitchell at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg which is massively exciting. We had hoped to open the show by now, but of course, it's delayed. I have another play, Addictive Beat, which I've been developing with Boundless Theatre in the UK. We were workshopping that in January 2020 but then we had to stop, as it's conceived to have a lot of music, movement and dance in it. Continuing over Zoom wasn't an option, so I'm hoping to pick that back up soon. I've got some new theatre ideas brewing too, quietly in the dark, waiting to leap out...

Read an excerpt from Dawn King's The Trials:

Ren goes out to talk to Noah. We can't hear what they are saying but Noah is flatly refusing to come back into the room. Ren comes back in.

REN: He says he's made up his mind.
MOHAMMAD: We can't discuss the case without him?!

REN: We're not supposed to, no.
MOHAMMAD: Do something!
REN: I can't force him to come back, Mohammad.

Frustrated, Mohammad goes in to talk to Noah. The rest of the jurors relax a little but Ren is tense. Marek sits in a meditation posture.

XANDER: You're working on tree planting?
REN: Uhm. Yeah. I like it. It's... calm.
XANDER: Calmer than being here?
REN: Making the hole in the earth, planting the seedling. At the end of the day, I look back and see how many trees I've planted and feel like I've done... something. What about you, are you still at school?

XANDER: No, I left.
TOMAZ: I dropped out too. What's the point of school, when most of it's probably useless?
XANDER: It won't be if we all work together. For the future.
TOMAZ: Fuck the future! I live in the moment. That's all we got.
REN: What do you do if you don't go to school?
TOMAZ: Stare at the walls, mostly.
REN: Join my tree programme. We need more people.
MAREK: (Chanting) Omm...
XANDER: I joined the Climate Defence Force.
TOMAZ: Ohmygod a real legit hero.
REN: How is it?
XANDER: Last week we were at a refugee centre handing out rations. Work like that is... intense. People are desperate. Any second the situation could get out of control, someone could get hurt. But I think it's really important to try and help.

TOMAZ: Oh, Xander, you're so brave.
REN: I think you are.
XANDER: Thanks.
GABI: Most baby trees die, because they don't get enough water. It's not a very efficient way to capture carbon unless it's done right. If you stayed in school, you might learn that.
REN: There's an aftercare programme.
GABI: Oh. Good.

REN: I'm not on that team. Should I go back in there? Talk to Noah again?

XANDER: And say what?

Pause. Ren shrugs.

REN: I can ask for help... it was in the instructions, I can ask for someone to come in and help us if we're having an 'irresolvable problem' does anyone think I should do that?
GABI: Don't bother them. They've got enough to do.

TOMAZ: God. I'm so hot!

XANDER: We can handle this Ren.

Tomaz sprinkles water on his face and lies on the floor with a big sigh.

TOMAZ: It's cooler down here.

Zoe lies down too.

ZOE: It's not cool at all!

TOMAZ: Use your imagination.

ZOE: I wish I could see snow. That would be cool.

TOMAZ: Literally. Cool.

ZOE: Did you ever see snow?

TOMAZ: A few times, when I was a kid.

ZOE: I wish I could. I've seen video but...

TOMAZ: That's shit. Hhm. You know what?

ZOE: What?

TOMAZ: I think... yeah... I feel a chill in the air. Brr! Hey, what's that? It's started snowing in here.

ZOE: What!?

TOMAZ: I can feel the soft, soft flakes of frosty snow... falling... touching me all over my body. Landing in my hair and my eyes. So cold so icy. Can't you feel it?

ZOE: Uh... yeah... I can! Wow! Snow!

Tomaz and Zoe are now in a 'snow storm'. The others watch this, amused or scornful.

TOMAZ: If you stick out your tongue, the snow lands, and it tastes like... like...

ZOE: Like sugar and flowers.

TOMAZ: Like frozen sugar and icicle flowers. Mm. Delicious! The snow is falling faster and faster. Thick flakes everywhere. It's a storm! I can barely see you!

Mohammad has returned, having given up on Noah who is still in the other room.

MOHAMMAD: What are they doing?

REN: Uh...

TOMAZ: So cold!

ZOE: Brr. Freeezing!

TOMAZ: It's so cold that I can't even remember what it's like to be hot.

ZOE: It's so cold that... I'll never be hot again!

TOMAZ: It's so cold that... when you breathe you spit ice crystals in a silver shower.

ZOE: It's so cold that my feet are blocks of ice and my hands have gone numb.

TOMAZ: It's so cold that/

KAKO: The snow freezes in my hair like an icicle crown.

TOMAZ: Good one!

ZOE: It's so cold and the snow is so thick... it's in my eyes, I can't see!

TOMAZ: Where are you?

ZOE: Here-

KAKO: Here!

ZOE: Here... in the snow!

TOMAZ: So white. Pure. Like, like... the beginning of everything. Don't get lost. Or eaten by snow leopards!

ZOE: I won't, I won't!

MOHAMMAD: This isn't a game.

TOMAZ: See. Who needs real snow?

ZOE: That was cool.

MOHAMMAD: What we're doing is serious!

TOMAZ: We were just having a little fun. Take the fun where you can my friend.

A bell rings. Hearing this, Noah returns.

REN: We have to give our verdict now.

MOHAMMAD: We wasted a lot of time! And he stopped the debate before it was over!

NOAH: It was over.

MOHMMAD: I don't think it was fair to Defendant One.

REN: Does anyone who found him guilty want to change their verdict?

MOHAMMAD: Tomaz... if you're not serious about this, then change your verdict.

A pause.

TOMAZ: No. I miss snow.

REN: All right. I'm putting our first verdict into the...

She types into the tablet computer.

REN: Guilty.

Adnan takes a puff on his inhaler.

Amelia starts crying.

They all look at each other.


REN: We have to go back in. For the next case.

AMELIA: I can't, I can't handle this.

GABI: It's your duty as a citizen.
NOAH: Stop crying.


Click here to learn more about The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

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