Works on Saddam Hussein’s interrogation, climate crimes, and a script featuring “one of the most striking sex scenes in recent theater history” are among the finalists for this year’s Susan Smith Blackburn Award for Women, Transgender and non-binary. playwrights.
Four British playwrights are among the 10 shortlisted writers. Beth Steel and Frances Poet are nominated for works whose British productions were postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic, while Dawn King is recognized for a script that has yet to be presented at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus. Janice Okoh is nominated for The Gift, which wrapped up a UK tour just before the nationwide shutdown began last March.
The Gift, directed by Dawn Walton, was staged as part of an initiative by the black-led touring company Eclipse to tell hidden stories and put black narratives at the heart of British theater. It focuses on Sarah Bonetta Davies, the 19th century Yoruba princess who was orphaned and enslaved before becoming a goddaughter to Queen Victoria. The poet Maggie May’s work on the family life of a woman with Alzheimer’s is a co-production of the Leeds Playhouse, Leicester Curve and Queen’s Theater, Hornchurch. Run by Jemima Levick, it closed in March after three breakthroughs due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The House of Shadows, written by Beth Steel (Wonderland), spans several decades in a working-class family and was to have been directed by Blanche McIntyre, with Anne-Marie Duff leading the cast, at London’s Almeida Theater. King, best known for her dystopian work Foxfinder, has been shortlisted for The Trials, which envisions a teenage jury in the near future weighing the fate of adult defendants charged with crimes against the weather.
More than 160 plays were nominated for this year’s award, which recognizes “works of excellent quality for English-speaking theater.” The other finalists, submitted by American and Australian theater organizations, are Erika Dickerson-Despenza (for the play cullud wattah, about the lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan), Miranda Rose Hall (for the environmental drama A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction), Kimber Lee (for The Water Palace, about Saddam Hussein’s interrogation in 2004), Ife Olujobi (Jordans, about subverted power and unleashed rage), Jiehae Park (The Aves, a tragicomic play about aging) and Glace Chase (Triple X, which takes place in New York and promises “one of the most striking sex scenes in the recent history of the theater”).
Leslie Swackhamer, executive director of the award, said: “These works are fierce, courageous and compelling. They are strong and absolutely unique voices that celebrate theatricality and our common humanity. The Covid-19 pandemic postponed, canceled and interrupted the work of many of these playwrights. Now it is more important than ever to celebrate their work. “
The award judges are theater directors Natalie Abrahami, Lileana Blain-Cruz and Seema Sueko, actors Paapa Essiedu and Jason Butler Harner, and designer Bunny Christie.
The winner will be announced in early April and will receive a cash prize of $ 25,000 and a signed print by artist Willem de Kooning. Last year, Lucy Prebble won the award for A Very Expensive Poison, based on Guardian journalist Luke Harding’s book on the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism