Shortlist announced for Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2021

A limited-edition Willem de Kooning print awaits the winner of the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

The highly-respected women+-only playwriting prize has just announced its 2021 shortlist, complied from over 160 international submissions.

The shortlist comprises (in alphabetical author order)

Glace Chase (Aus/US) – TRIPLE X

Erika Dickerson-Despenza (US) – CULLUD WATTAH

Miranda Rose Hall (US) – A PLAY FOR THE LIVING IN THE TIME OF EXTINCTION

Dawn King (UK) – THE TRIALS

Kimber Lee (US) – THE WATER PALACE

Janice Okoh (UK) – THE GIFT

Ife Olujobi (US) – JORDANS

Frances Poet (UK) – MAGGIE MAY

Jiehae Park (US) – THE AVES

Beth Steel (UK) – THE HOUSE OF SHADES

The big standout for me is the brilliant Janice Okoh play THE GIFT which describes itself as “an outrageous play about imperialism, cross-racial adoption, cultural appropriation…and tea” Okoh’s play captures painfully and eloquently the past and present scars of British colonial racism. You can read my four-star review of the play here .

The show’s UK tour was sadly cut short due to the Covid shutdown, but it must return to ensure a wider audience has the chance to experience this unforgettable and important play.

Previous prize winners include Jackie Sibblies Drury for FAIRVIEW in 2019, which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize (see my review of the Young Vic production here), and Lucy Prebble’s A VERY EXPENSIVE POISON won the Award in 2020.

The judges were director Natalie Abrahami, director Lileana Blain-Cruz, designer Bunny Christie, actor Paapa Essiedu, actor Jason Butler Harner and director Seema Sueko.

The winner will be announced in April and will receive $25,000 as well a s a limited edition Willem de Kooning print (pictured above). Each finalist receives $5,000.

To learn more about the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, visit their website by clicking here

Congratulations to all the shortlisted writers.


George Devine Award shortlist announced

George Devine

The George Devine Award has announced its 2020 Shortlist. Founded in 1966 in memory of the Royal Court’s founding Artistic Director George Devine, the Award is recognised as one of the most prestigious in new writing and seeks to spotlight a playwright of promise. Previous winners have included Diana Nneka Atuona, Richard Bean, Alice Birch, Lucy Prebble and Rory Mullarkey.

The winner will receive a £15,000 prize to support their future writing.

Former George Devine Award-winner and 2020 judge Roy Williams said:

“The quality of the plays on the 2020 Shortlist is exceptional. They are a set of bold, diverse voices representing huge variety in style and subject matter. Amidst a very difficult year for theatre, it felt clear when discussing these plays with my fellow judges that there is a bright future to look towards for new writing when the industry reopens.”

The 2020 Shortlist is:

When Great Trees Fall by Dipo Baruwa-Etti

Motherland by Chris Bush

Staying at Stacey’s by Annie Jenkins

Does My Bomb Look Big In This? by Nyla Levy

There are no beginnings by Charley Miles

Out of Sorts by Danusia Samal

O, Island! by Nina Segal

The Canary and the Crow by Daniel Ward

The High Table by Temi Wilkey

This year’s judging panel includes the previous GDA-winning playwrights Charlene James and Roy Williams alongside former Royal Court Artistic Director Ian Rickson, actor Patsy Ferran, director Elayce Ismail and producer Amy Powell Yeates.

In my own view, the strongest contender I have seen, and the one I am rooting for, is Temi Wilkey’s wonderfully warm and ambitious THE HIGH TABLE which had its run cut cruelly short at the Bush Theatre earlier this year. You can read my four-star review here.

The winner will be announced later this month.