Bridget Carpenter has won the top Susan Smith Blackburn Award of $10,000 for her play "Fall," about an adolescent girl. Carpenter, a member of New Dramatists, is 30, New York-born, and now based in Los Angeles. "Fall" will have its first full production at Trinity Repertory Company, in Providence, R.I., in May.
The Blackburn Awards, given to women writing for the English-speaking theatre, were presented by actress Fiona Shaw on Sun., Feb. 27, at the Arts Club in London. Twelve finalists were honored. The $2,000 second prize was divided between two playwrights, one Irish and one American.
The Dublin-based Elizabeth Kuti received $1,000 for her first full-length play, "Treehouses," which was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre, where it will have its premiere in April. Kuti just completed her doctoral thesis at Trinity College, Dublin, on the subject of women playwrights and actresses in the late 18th century.
Dael Orlandersmith, based in New York, shared second prize with "The Gimmick," a one-person play about two people in Harlem. "The Gimmick" was commissioned and premiered by the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J. and produced at the New York Theatre Workshop last May. Orlandersmith acts in the play herself, and will next perform it at Center Stage, Baltimore, in May, and at the Edinburgh Festival in August.
The nine other finalists each received $500. They include American writers Rebecca Gilman, Emily Mann, Suzan Lori-Parks, Freyda Thomas, and Celeste Bedford-Walker. United Kingdom winners were Nicola Baldwin, Dolly Dhingra, Marie Jones, and Jenny McLeod.
Judges for the 22nd annual Blackburn Awards included actors Kathleen Chalfant and Ralph Fiennes, and playwright A.R. Gurney.
The prizes, named for Susan Smith Blackburn, an American actress and writer who lived the last 15 years of her life in London, have been given since 1978. Blackburn died at the age of 42 in 1977. Five Blackburn winners have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama.