In celebration of its 35th anniversary landmark year, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has announced a global celebration where theatres across the English-speaking world will produce 75 plays by past winners and finalists.
The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize was co-founded by Emilie S. Kilgore, Susan's sister and William Blackburn, her husband. It is awarded annually to recognize women from around the world who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre.
When the Prize was established in 1978 only 6% of new plays produced, on both sides of the Atlantic, were written by women. That number is now 20%. Mindful of the fact that women are achieving parity with men in every aspect of theatre except in numbers of productions, to mark its 35th anniversary, the Board of the Prize envisioned a global celebration of productions.
The Board asked its "source theatres" who have been so instrumental in creating the Prize's legacy, to consider producing a play by one of the playwrights honored by The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize during this anniversary year. The response has been overwhelming. To date, over 75 productions by Blackburn Winners and Finalists are programmed during the 35th Anniversary Year, on both sides of the Atlantic.
In Houston alone, (where Susan grew up and first became involved in theatre), The Alley Theatre, Stages Repertory Theatre, Main Street Theater, Stark Naked Theatre, The Ensemble Theatre, Musiqa, Theatre Southwest, The University of Houston and Sam Houston State University are all producing plays for this global initiative.
The 35th Awards Presentation Ceremony will be held in Houston at the Alley Theatre in late February/ early March, 2013. The preceding day, the Prize will host a Special Event, involving Finalists for our Anniversary year, and readings from their plays presented by a creative coalition of Houston theatres. This will be followed by a panel discussion, Women Writing Today, featuring the playwrights who fly in for the occasion. Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Board member, and distinguished interNational Theatre critic, Matt Wolf, will lead the panel.
Every year, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Winner is awarded $20,000, and also receives a signed and numbered print by Willem De Kooning, created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Each of the additional Finalists receives $1,000. The winner is chosen from the finalists each year by six Judges, three in the United States, and three in Britain. The list of past judges reads like a veritable who's who of English Speaking theatre over the last 35 years.
Last year The Prize was awarded to U.S. playwright and Texas native Jennifer Haley for her play The Nether, nominated by the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. This year's Finalists will be announced in January.
The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize received the 2010 Theatre Communications Group's National Funder Award. The annual honor goes to a company, foundation or other entity for “leadership and sustained national support of theater in America.”
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF Susan Smith BLACKBURN PRIZE
35TH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTIONS:
CURRENT & UPCOMING ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTIONS
Sep 4 - Nov 18, 2012
AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE by Henrik Ibsen (new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz)
Manhattan Theatre Club - New York, NY
Oct 6 - Dec16, 2012
THEATRE IN THE DARK
BEEP by Sheila Callaghan & STRANGERS IN THE PRE-SHOW by Ann Noble
The Odyssey Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
Oct 25 - Nov 10, 2012
BODY AWARENESS by Annie Baker / Stark Naked Theatre Company - Houston, TX