One dozen plays have reached the finalist phase for the 26th annual Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, given out annually to women who deserve recognition for having written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre.
The finalists are: Neena Beber (U.S.) for "Jump/Cut"; Jean Betts (New Zealand) for "The Collective"; Lin Coghlan (U.K.) for "Mercy"; Zinnie Harris (U.K.) for "Midwinter"; Carson Kreitzer (U.S.) for "The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer"; Lisa Loomer (U.S.) for "Living Out"; Abi Morgan (U.K.) for "27"; Ann Noble (U.S.) for "Ariadne's Thread"; Lucy Prebble (U.K.) for "The Sugar Syndrome"; Sarah Ruhl (U.S.) for "The Clean House"; Polly Teale (U.K.) for "After Mrs. Rochester"; and Karen Zacarias (U.S.) for "Mariela in the Desert."
The prize reflects the lifelong values and interests of Susan Smith Blackburn, the American actress and writer, who resided in London for the last 15 years of her life and died in 1977 at the age of 42.
The winner of this year's Blackburn Prize will be presented in February in either New York or London and will receive $10,000 as well as a specially created, signed and numbered print by artist Willem de Kooning. All finalists for the prize will receive $500.
In addition to announcing the finalists, it was announced that the University of Texas Press will publish a volume "centered around a thoughtful investigation of women's playwriting" during the 25 years since the Blackburn Prize was first created. Alexis Greene, a noted author, critic, dramaturg, and teacher, will serve as editor of the volume. And Smith and Kraus, it was further announced, will begin publishing an annual anthology of finalist plays beginning with this year's roster.
Judges for the 26th annual Blackburn Prize are Michael Bradwell, artistic director, Bush Theatre, London; American actress Blair Brown; James Houghton, artistic director, Signature Theatre Company; Charles Isherwood, chief theatre critic of Variety; British actress Janet McTeer; and British actor-director Samuel West.