Playwright Jessica Goldberg is the winner of the 1999 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play, Refuge. The Blackburn award is an annual honor given to women dramatists who create the year's outstanding plays for the English-speaking theatre.
Julie Hebert took second place for The Knee Desires the Dirt. Nine other finalists were Judith Adams (The Bone Room), Hilary Bell (Shot While Dancing), Sara Clifford (A Thousand Days), Eve Ensler (Lemonade), Rebecca Gilman (Spinning Into Butter), Yazmine Judd (Unfinished Business), Liz Lochhead (Perfect Days), Kira Obolensky (Lobster Alice) and Diana Son (Stop Kiss). The latter recently completed a successful Off-Broadway run at NY's Public Theatre.
In 21 years of competition, there have been 239 finalist plays. Each year prominent theatre professionals throughout the United Kingdom and the United States are asked to submit scripts for possible nomination in an effort to promote women playwrights, who continue to be underrepresented in the theatre. Plays are eligible whether or not they have been produced, but any production must have taken place within the preceding 12 months. Each script is read by at least three members of a committee that selects ten to twelve finalists.
The honor is named after American actress Susan Smith Blackburn, who lived her last fifteen years in London before dying at age 42 in 1977. -- By David Lefkowitz and Peter Szatmary