The finalists for the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize were announced Monday, marking another chapter in the award’s 43-year-long history. The prize, which recognizes female, transgender and non-binary playwrights who have penned “works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre,” will be revealed in April.
The nominees include Ife Olujobi (“Jordans”), Jiehae Park (“The Aves”), Janice Okoh (“The Gift”), Dawn King (“The Trials”), Kimber Lee (“The Water Palace”), Erika Dickerson-Despenza (“cullud wattah”), Frances Poet (“Maggie May”), Beth Steel (“The House of Shades”), Glace Chase (“Triple X”) and Miranda Rose Hall (“A Play for the Living in the Time of Extinction”), whose work appeared on the ALL ARTS “En Garde Arts Presents Uncommon Voices” series in April.
“Bold in their narrative strategies, the plays are inventive and provocative,” Leslie Swackhamer, executive director of the prize, said in a statement. “These are strong and utterly unique voices which celebrate theatricality and our common humanity.
This year’s finalists were whittled down to 10 from a pool of more than 160 nominated plays, chosen by artistic directors and theater professionals. The winning playwright will receive a cash prize of $25,000 and a signed print by artist Willem de Kooning, and each finalist will be granted $5,000.
“Many of these playwrights had their plays postponed, cancelled and interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Swackhamer said. “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.”
Top Image: Finalists for the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. (Left to right: Glace Chase, Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Miranda Rose Hall, Dawn King, Kimber Lee, Janice Okoh, Ife Olujobi, Jiehae Park, Frances Poet and Beth Steel.