THE SUSAN SMITH BLACKBURN PRIZE
2019 FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
MAJOR INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR WOMEN PLAYWRIGHTS
CELEBRATES FORTY-FIRST YEAR
"The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize changed my life." Jennifer Haley,
"The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has really been a pioneer, and led the way for the recognition of women's voices in playwriting."
Wendy Goldberg, Artistic Director, The National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center
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:
Hilary Bettis (U.S.)- 72 miles to go...
Jackie Sibblies Drury (U.S.)- Fairview
debbie tucker green (U.K.)- ear for eye
Ella Hickson (U.K.)- The Writer
Martyna Majok (U.S.)- Sanctuary City
Lily Padilla (U.S.)- How to Defend Yourself
Nina Raine (U.K.)- Stories
Ella Road (U.K.)-The Phlebotomist
Heidi Schreck (U.S.)- What the Constitution Means to Me
Lauren Yee (U.S.)- Cambodian Rock Band
The Winner of the 2019 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize will be named at the Award Presentation, which honors all Finalists on March 4 at Shakespeare's Globe in London. The Winner will be awarded a cash prize of $25,000, 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.
The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is awarded annually to celebrate women who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre. Administered in Houston, New York and London, the 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. Susan believed that society urgently needed more influence from talented women. It is the purpose of the Prize is to honor excellence and to perpetuate the high standards, creativity and vitality that were characteristic of Susan's life.
Over 450 plays have been honored as Finalists of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Many of the Winners have gone on to receive other top honors, including Olivier, Lilly, Evening Standard and Tony Awards for Best Play. Ten Susan Smith Blackburn Finalist plays have subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. The Prize has also fostered an interchange of plays between the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries.
Winners of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize include Alice Birch's Anatomy of a Suicide, Lynn Nottage's Sweat, Annie Baker's The Flick, 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, Charlotte Jones' Humble Boy, Naomi Wallace’s One Flea Spare, Marsha Norman's 'night, mother and Moira Buffini's Silence.
Former Judges of The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize over the past forty-one 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, Marsha Norman, 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 from the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Judges for the 2019 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize are: Michael Buffong (U.K.) Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre; Maria Goyanes (U.S.) Artistic Director of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre; Tony and Olivier Award-winning stage director Marianne Elliott, OBE (U.K.); Playwright and winner of the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for The Nether, Jennifer Haley (U.S.); and celebrated stage, television and film actors, Tamsin Greig (U.K.) and Marin Ireland (U.S.).
About the Finalists
Hilary Bettis- 72 miles to go...
Submitted by Two River Theater
Hilary Bettis is a Brooklyn-based writer who works in TV, film and theater. Her plays include: 72 miles to go…, Queen of Basel, Blood & Dust, The Ghosts of Lote Bravo, The History of American Pornography, and Alligator. The Ghosts of Lote Bravo received a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere at the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, MO, Borderlands Theater in Tucson, Arizona. The play was published in American Theatre Magazine in February 2018. Alligator was produced Off-Broadway with New Georges and The Sol Project, and was nominated for a 2017 Drama Desk for Outstanding Music in a Play. Queen of Basel, a bilingual adaptation of Miss Julie commissioned by Miami New Drama, was produced at Miami New Drama in April 2018, and will receive its world premiere at Studio Theatre in D.C. March 2019. Her play, 72 miles to go… is receiving a workshop production at the Alley Theatre's All New festival in January, 2019. Bettis is a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages, Ensemble Studio Theater, a Usual Suspect at NYTW, an Affiliated Artist at New Georges, The Kilroys, and a proud member of the WGA. Graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwright Fellowship at The Juilliard School
Jackie Sibblies Drury- Fairview
Submitted by Soho Rep and Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Jackie Sibblies Drury is a Brooklyn-based playwright. Her plays include Fairview, Really, and We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915. Drury’s plays have been presented by Soho Rep, Berkeley Rep, New York City Players and Abrons Arts Center, Victory Gardens, Trinity Rep, Woolly Mammoth, Undermain Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Company One and The Bush Theatre in London, among others. Her work has been developed at The Bellagio Center, Sundance, The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ars Nova, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, New York Theatre Workshop, PRELUDE, The Bushwick Starr, The LARK, and The MacDowell Colony. She has received many awards, including a Windham-Campbell Literary Prize in Drama, a Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, and a United States Artists Gracie Fellowship. Her latest play, Marys Seacole, will open at LCT3 this February 25. Fairview was co-commissioned by Soho Rep and Berkeley Rep and premiered at both theatres in 2018. It will receive its U.K. premiere at the Young Vic in November.
debbie tucker green- ear for eye
Submitted by the Royal Court Theatre
debbie tucker green is a writer-director and works across theatre, television and film. As a writer-director, her theatre credits include many productions at the Royal Court, including, ear for eye a profoundly affectionate passionate devotion to someone (-noun), hang, truth and reconciliation, and random. Other theatre writing includes nut (National Theatre), trade (RSC / RSC at Soho), born bad (Hampstead Theatre, Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer in an Affiliate Theatre, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist), dirty butterfly (Soho Theatre), stoning mary (Royal Court, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist) and generations (Young Vic). The film version of random which she adapted from her stage play and directed for Channel 4, won the BAFTA for Best Single Drama in 2012. Second Coming won the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2015 Big Screen Award, was BAFTA nominated and is Debbie’s first feature film. She has written and directed several radio plays including an adaptation of Assata Shakur’s biography Assata Shakur – the FBI’s Most Wanted Woman, as well as original work including, lament – winner of a gold ARIAS award, gone and freefall.
Ella Hickson- The Writer
Submitted by The Almeida Theatre
Ella Hickson is an award-winning writer whose work has been performed throughout the UK and abroad. The Writer opened at the Almeida Theatre in Spring 2019 and her new play Anna will open at The National Theatre in 2019. Oil played at the Almeida Theatre in 2016. In 2013/14 Wendy And Peter Pan, her version of Peter Pan, played at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Other credits include Merlin (The Royal and Derngate, Northampton/ Nuffield Theatre, Southampton) Boys (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton / Headlong Theatre / Hightide Festival Theatre), Decade (Headlong Theatre/St Catherine's Dock), The Authorised Kate Bane (Traverse Theatre), Rightfully Mine (Radio 4), Precious Little Talent (Trafalgar Studios / Tantrums Productions), Hot Mess (Arcola Tent/Tantrums Productions) and Eight (Trafalgar Studios/Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh). In 2011 Ella was the Pearson Writer in residence at the Lyric Hammersmith and she received the 2013 Catherine Johnson Award. Ella is currently on writing residency at the Macdowell Colony in the US. Ella’s short film Hold On Me (dir. Samuel Abrahams) premiered at the 55th BFI London Film Festival. She is developing new work for The Old Vic, The Globe and Manhattan Theatre Club. Ella is also writing various projects for TV and film. She recently wrote a page one rewrite of female-lead thriller The Rhythm Section for Reed Morano (Barbara Broccoli to produce), and was also engaged to adapt Matt Haig’s book Echo Boy for producer Tanya Seghatchian and Steve Kloves, for Studio 8. She is currently writing an episode of Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The Unexpected for Ink Factory and the BBC.
Martyna Majok- Sanctuary City
Submitted by New York Theatre Workshop
Martyna Majok was born in Bytom, Poland and raised in NJ and Chicago. She was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Cost of Living (Williamstown Theatre Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club). Cost of Living will open at the Hampstead Theatre in London on January 25. Sanctuary City will premiere at New York Theatre Workshop in 2019. Other plays include Queens (LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater, La Jolla Playhouse), and Ironbound (Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, WP Theater/Rattlestick Playwright Theater, Geffen Playhouse, National Theatre of Warsaw, among others). Awards include The Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding New Play, The Greenfield Prize (first female recipient in drama), Champions of Change Award from the NYC Mayor’s Office, Francesca Primus Prize, two Jane Chambers Playwriting Awards, The Lanford Wilson Prize, The Lilly Award's Stacey Mindich Prize, Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding Original New Play from The Helen Hayes Awards, Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award, ANPF Women's Invitational Prize, David Calicchio Prize, Global Age Project Prize, NYTW 2050 Fellowship, NNPN Smith Prize for Political Playwriting, and Merage Foundation Fellowship for The American Dream. Alumna of Ensemble Studio Theatre's Youngblood and WP Lab. Core Writer at Playwrights' Center, NYTW Usual Suspect, and member of The Dramatists Guild and The Writers Guild of America East. Current theatre commissions include The Public Theater, Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Rep, and The Bush Theatre in London. TV/film projects include HBO, Focus Features/Maven Pictures, and Apple TV. Martyna was the 2015-2016 PoNY Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center and is a 2018-2019 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. MFA: Yale School of Drama, Juilliard; BA: University of Chicago.
Lily Padilla-How to Defend Yourself
Submitted by Ojai Playwrights Conference
Lily Padilla makes plays about sex, intersectional communities and what it means to heal in a violent world. Their play, How to Defend Yourself will be produced in the 2019 Humana Festival and at Victory Gardens Theatre in 2020. Lily’s work has been developed with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Victory Gardens, INTAR Theatre and San Diego REP. Lily facilitates playwriting workshops with the La Jolla Playhouse/TCG Veterans & Theatre Institute and teaches playwriting and devised theatre at USD and UCSD. Lily is also a director, actor and community builder who looks at rehearsal as a laboratory for how we might be together. MFA, UC San Diego, BFA NYU Tisch.
Nina Raine- Stories
Submitted by The National Theatre
Nina Raine began her career as a trainee director at the Royal Court under the Regional Young Theatre Director Scheme. Theatre writing credits include: Stories (National Theatre), Consent (National Theatre, West End transfer to the Harold Pinter Theatre, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist), Tribes (Royal Court Theatre/Barrow Street Theatre NY: Drama Desk Award, Olivier Award Best New Play nomination), Tiger Country (Hampstead Theatre), The Drunks (RSC: Adaptation) and Rabbit (Evening Standard and Critics Circle Awards for most promising playwright).Theatre directing credits include: Stories (National Theatre), Donkey Heart (Old Red Lion/Trafalgar Studios) Longing (Hampstead Theatre); Jumpy (Royal Court/Duke of York's Theatre); Tiger Country (Hampstead Theatre); Shades (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs – Critics Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Most Promising Newcomer); Rabbit (Old Red Lion/Trafalgar Studios/Brits off Broadway Festival); Unprotected (Liverpool Everyman/Traverse Theatre – Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and TMA Best Director Award); Vermillion Dream (Salisbury Playhouse); Eskimo Sisters (Southwark Playhouse).Television credits include: Mistresses (The Finale)Radio Credits include: Alan Howard Reads.
Ella Road- The Phlebotimist
Submitted by Playful Productions
Ella Road is a writer and actor from London. The Phlebotomist is her first play. It premiered at the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs in Spring 2018 and will transfer to the Main House in Spring 2019. Ella is currently writing new commissions for the Almeida Theatre, Hampstead Theatre and Theatre Royal Plymouth, and is one of the Bush Theatre’s 'Emerging Writers’ 2018/19. She is also in development on a number of projects for TV and Film, including a television adaption of The Phlebotomist. Film credits include The Wyrd, and the latest Stand Up to Cancer video campaign for RSA Films. For radio: 'Road to Oxford' for BBC Radio 4, and the upcoming adaptation of The Phlebotomist for BBC Radio 3. She also acts for theatre, screen and radio.
Ella is co-founder of the new writing company Flux Theatre, which aims to champion new voices in the arts. She also teaches English, facilitates creative writing workshops, and writes the occasional poem.
Heidi Schreck- What the Constitution Means to Me
Submitted by New York Theatre Workshop
Heidi Schreck is a playwright, performer, and screenwriter living in Brooklyn. Her play Grand Concourse, which debuted at Playwrights Horizons and Steppenwolf Theatres in 2014-15 and has played at theaters all over the country. Grand Concourse won the Stacey Mindich Lilly Award for best new play in 2015 and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Heidi's other plays have been produced by Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Page73, Seattle Public Theatre, New Georges, Rattlestick Theatre, and more. Heidi holds commissions from the Atlantic Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, and South Coast Repertory Theatre and she is working on a new translation of Three Sisters for NYTW. Heidi’s screenwriting credits include “I Love Dick,” “Billions” and “Nurse Jackie,” and she is currently developing projects with Annapurna Pictures and Imagine Television. She is the recipient of two Obie Awards, a Drama Desk, and the Theatre World Award.Heidi developed What the Constitution Means to Me over a ten-year period with the support of True Love Productions, and Dixon Place Theater. It first debuted as part of Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks festival, followed by productions at Berkeley Rep and New York Theatre Workshop in 2018, where it was extended three times. What the Constitution Means to Me will debut on Broadway in the spring of 2019 at the Helen Hayes Theater.
Lauren Yee- Cambodian Rock Band
Submitted by South Coast Repertory
Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered in March 2018 at South Coast Repertory and will open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Victory Gardens in 2019. Her play The Great Leap (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2018 Finalist) premiered this past season at Denver Center, Seattle Repertory, and Atlantic Theatre with 2019 productions slated for the Guthrie, American Conservatory Theater, Arts Club, and InterAct Theatre. Also upcoming for 2018-19: King of the Yees at Baltimore Center Stage and San Francisco Playhouse, and The Song of Summer at Trinity Rep. Recent honors include the Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, an upcoming Hodder Fellowship at Princeton, the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List, as well as a finalist of both the ATCA/Steinberg Award and the Edward M. Kennedy Prize. She is a Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member and an alumni playwright of Playwrights Realm. She received her BA from Yale University, and her MFA in playwriting from UCSD. Current commissions include Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Lincoln Center/LCT3, Mixed Blood, Portland Center Stage, Second Stage, and South Coast Repertory.