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Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Announces 2021 Finalists

This year’s finalists include Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Miranda Rose Hall, Jiehae Park, and Beth Steel.

NEW YORK CITY: The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has announced the 10 finalists for its 2021 playwrighting award, which is awarded to women+ playwrights and chosen from an international group of over 160 plays. The winner, who will be announced in early April, will be awarded a $25,000 cash prize as well as a signed print, created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, by renowned artist Willem de Kooning. The other finalists will receive a $5,000 award.

“In this time of crisis, when our theatres are dark, our readers and judges have found great solace and inspiration in connecting with the vibrancy of this work,” said Leslie Swackhamer, executive director of the prize, in a statement. “These plays are fierce, brave, and compelling. Bold in their narrative strategies, the plays are inventive and provocative. These are strong and utterly unique voices which celebrate theatricality and our common humanity. Many of these playwrights had their plays postponed, cancelled, and interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now more important than ever to celebrate their work. Theatres may be dark at this moment, but when they come back to glorious life, these incredible plays will light up the darkness.”

This year’s finalists include Glace Chase, Triple X; Erika Dickerson-Despenza, cullud wattah; Miranda Rose Hall, A Play for the Living in the Time of Extinction; Dawn King, The Trials; Kimber Lee, The Water Palace; Janice Okoh, The Gift; Ife Olujobi, Jordans; Frances Poet, Maggie May; Jiehae Park, The Aves; and Beth Steel, The House of Shades.

The judges for this year are Natalie Abrahami, Paapa Essiedu, Bunny Christie, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Jason Butler Harner, and Seema Sueko.

Founded in 1978 and named for the American author and actor, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize promotes the high standards, creativity, and vitality that were characteristic of Susan’s life. More than 460 plays have been honored as finalists, many going on to win Olivier, Lilly, Evening Standard, and Tony Awards for Best Play. Ten Finalist plays have subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

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