Lauren Yee, Martyna Majok, Heidi Schreck and More Among Finalists for Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

Playwright Lauren Yee at the Atlantic Theater Stage 2. Photo by Lia Chang
Playwright Lauren Yee at the Atlantic Theater Stage 2. Photo by Lia Chang

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 Monday, 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. 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, 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, 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 Grieg (U.K.) and Marin Ireland (U.S.).

Lia Chang
Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and

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