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Winner Announced for 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

Winner Announced for 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

The 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has been awarded to U.K. playwright Alice Birch for her play "Anatomy of a Suicide". Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Prize is awarded annually to recognize women from around the world who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre. The Winner will receive $25,000 and a signed and numbered print by renowned artist Willem De Kooning.

of a Suicide" premiered to glowing reviews at the Royal Court in the spring of 2017, directed by Katie Mitchell. The play portrays three generations of women struggling with a legacy of depression in a family haunted by its past. The play is a triptych in which the three separate yet interconnected narratives, taking place in different time periods, are performed simultaneously. Calling it a "haunting piece of theatre", The Financial Times praised the prowess of Birch's narrative strategy, remarking that the " form meets the subject, in that the weight of the past in the present is constantly, physically felt."


Considered at the vanguard of new writing in the U.K., Alice Birch creates plays that are stunning in both content and form. Playwright Simon Stephens calls Birch " a writer of exquisite poetry and unerring savagery. She returns again and again to excavate the violence of patriarchy in its many forms." Guardian critic, Michael BIllington praises Ms. Birch's "gift for radical experiment" and "remarkable gift for reinventing dramatic form".

Birch has been a two-time Finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize with her plays Many Moons and Revolt. She said. Revolt again. She is the winner of the Arts Foundation Award for Playwriting 2014, the co-winner of the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright 2014.

Theatre includes: [Blank] (NT Connections / Clean Break), Anatomy of a Suicide (Royal Court), Revolt. She said. Revolt again. (RSC / Soho Rep NYC), Ophelias Zimmer (Royal Court / Schaubuhne Theater Berlin), We Want You to Watch (National Theatre / RashDash), Little Light (Orange Tree), Little on the inside (Almeida / Clean Break) and Many Moons (Theatre 503).

Film includes Lady Macbeth (BBC / BFI / Creative England) which was the winner of the International Critic's Prize (FIPRESCI Prize) at San Sebastian Film Festival 2016, the Best First Feature at Zurich Film Festival 2016, Best Screenplay at Turin Film Festival 2016 and the BIFA Award for Best Screenplay 2017.Current commissions include the Royal Court, the National, the Almeida and Soho Rep. Film and TV commissions include projects for Film Four, Number 9, House Productions and Plan B.


The oldest and largest playwriting prize devoted to female-identified writers, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize was co-founded by Susan's sister, Emilie Kilgore, and Susan's husband, William Blackburn, in 1977. The Houston-based Prize reflects the values and interests of Susan Smith Blackburn, noted American actress and writer who lived in London during the last 15 years of her life. She believed that promoting women's voices was vital and shamefully neglected. Since the founding of the Prize, over 390 plays have been honored as Finalists.

Many of the Winners of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize have gone on to receive other top honors, including Olivier, Lilly, and Tony Awards for Best Play. Ten Blackburn Finalist plays have subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. These plays also benefit from the interest the Prize generates, often leading to productions at theatre companies throughout the world in English and in translation.

Last year's Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Dance Nation by Clare Barron, will premiere in April at Playwrights Horizons. It also won the 2015 Relentless Award from the American Playwriting Foundation. The 2016 Winner of the Blackburn Prize, Sweat by Lynn Nottage, played on Broadway in 2017 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Subsequent to winning the 2012-2013 Prize for The Flick, Annie Baker was honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Steinberg Playwright Award, a MacArthur Fellowship and a Horton Foote Legacy Project award.

In addition to the $25,000 award to the Winner, The Prize awards $5,000 to each of the Finalists for the Prize. The 2018 Finalists for The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, chosen from over 150 plays, were: Elinor Cook (U.K.) - Out of Love, Aleshea Harris (U.S.) - Is God Is, Fiona Doyle (Ireland) -The Strange Death of John Doe, Colleen Murphy (Canada)- The Breathing Hole, Antoinette Nwandu (U.S.) - Pass Over, Nina Raine (U.K.) - Consent, Anusree Roy (Canada) - Trident Moon, Tori Sampson (U.S.) - If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Muhfucka, Lauren Yee (U.S.) - The Great Leap Judges for the 2017-18 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize are: Annie Baker (U.S.), Carrie Cracknell (U.K.), Denise Gough (U.K.), Rajiv Joseph (U.S.), Justine Mitchell (U.K.) and Phylicia Rashad (U.S.). They join a distinguished roster of judges who comprise a virtual Who's Who of theatre over the past 40 years, including Edward Albee, Eileen Atkins, Blair Brown, Zoe Caldwell, Jill Clayburgh, Glenn Close, Harold Clurman, Colleen Dewhurst, Ralph Fiennes, Greta Gerwig, Sam Gold, John Guare, A.R. Gurney, Mel Gussow, David Hare, Judith Ivey, Brandon Jacob-Jenkins, Tony Kushner, Phyllida Lloyd, Francis McDormand, Cynthia Nixon, Janet McTeer, Marsha Norman, Joan Plowright, Diana Rigg, Marian Seldes, Fiona Shaw, Tom Stoppard, Meryl Streep, Jessica Tandy, Paula Vogel, Sigourney Weaver, Wendy Wasserstein, August Wilson and George C. Wolfe among more than 200 artists in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Over 300 professional theatres from across the globe serve as "Source Theatres", submitting their recommendations for the Prize. The Royal Court submitted Anatomy of A Suicide for consideration. Submitting theatres for the 2018 Finalists are the Denver Center Theatre Company, Hampstead Theatre, Out of Joint, Paines Plough, Soho Rep, Steppenwolf Theatre, The National Arts Centre (Canada), The Orange Tree, The Stratford Festival/English Theatre, Theatre Clwyd, and Yale Repertory Theatre.

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