Eve Ensler and Annie Weisman are two of the five American women listed among the 11 finalists for the 23rd Susan Smith Blackburn Awards, given annually to women deserving of recognition for plays written expressly for the English-speaking theatre.
This year's finalists are: Judith Adams (U.K.) for "Queueing for Everest"; Alexandra Cunningham (U.S.) for "No. 11 (Blue and White)"; Ensler for "Conviction"; Nancy Ewing (U.S.) for "Leaving Water-maine"; Zinnie Harris (U.K.) for "Further then the Furthest Thing"; Naomi Iizuka (U.S.) for "36 Views"; Charlotte Jones (U.K.) for "Humble Boy"; Joanna Laurens (U.K.) for "The Three Birds"; Meredith Oakes (U.K.) for "Her Mother and Bartok"; Weisman for "Be Aggressive"; and Sarah Woods (U.K.) for "Antigone."
The Awards will be presented in New York or London, with the winner receiving $10,000 as well as a signed and numbered print by Willem de Kooning made especially for the Blackburn Prize. Each of the other finalists will receive $500.
Judges for this year's awards are Simon Russell Beale, British actor; Richard Christiansen, chief critic and senior writer for the Chicago Tribune; Robert Falls, artistic director of the Goodman Theatre, Chicago; Lynn Gardner, drama critic of The Guardian, London; Caro Newling, executive producer at the Donmar Warehouse; and Paula Vogel, American playwright. These six judges will read each of the 11 final scripts, which were chosen after narrowing down a field of about 90 submissions. Plays were eligible whether or not they had been produced, but in the case of prior production, it must have occurred within the prior 12 months.
The awards were created to celebrate the values and interests of Susan Smith Blackburn, an American actress who lived in London during the last 15 years of her life. Five Blackburn winners have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama.