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The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
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BWW Exclusive: Meet the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalists- Janice Okoh

Plus, read an excerpt from Okoh's nominated play, The Gift!

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 Janice Okoh and read an excerpt form her play, The Gift!


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

It means a great deal. The playwrights who have served as my inspiration and who I have most respected have been Finalists.

What has happened since you were announced as a finalist?

Through social media there has been interest from the public in reading the play, which has been amazing.

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

I am adapting Ben Meyer's novel "The Offing" which is a co-production with Stephen Joseph Theatre and Live Theatre, Newcastle.


Read an excerpt from Janice Okoh's The Gift:

QUEEN VICTORIA sits down. Only when QUEEN VICTORIA eats do the two SARAHs eat. This is the etiquette. QUEEN VICTORIA is a messy eater. QUEEN VICTORIA sips her tea. The two SARAHs lift their cups and sip.

Queen Victoria: Children bring such joy.

Sarah Bonetta: They really do, Ma'am. I have never felt such love for any being until I had Victoria.

Queen Victoria: Husband excepting, of course.

Sarah Bonetta: Yes, of course. As you know, I didn't think James and I were suited when we first met but things changed drastically when we were in Africa.

Queen Victoria: I was wondering when I'd get my dues.

Sarah: Tick- tock. Tick- tock.

Sarah Bonetta: Thank you for introducing us, Ma'am. He suits me perfectly.

Queen Victoria: Yes, well I always got top marks for that sort of thing.

Sarah Bonetta: The passion he had to better/ the natives.

Queen Victoria: In some ways he reminds me of my Albert. That bullishness. Just remember to always keep his interest. Albie and I used play at living in a small cottage in Shropshire. He would pretend to be a milkherd and I a milkherd's wife. He always wanted to make cheeses. (Re: bust) It's a perfect likeness, isn't it?

Sarah Bonetta: Yes, Ma'am.

QUEEN VICTORIA is momentarily lost in her reverie. Then:

Queen Victoria: You helped paved the way for a future of English African women, Sally. Jolly good.


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


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