The Blackburn Prize, which includes a cash award of $10,000 and a signed lithograph by artist Willem de Kooning, recognizes the women dramatist whose works represent outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre.
The lauded Orlandersmith and her play were also a finalist for the last Pulitzer Prize for Drama alongside Rebecca Gilman's The Glory of Living. The Pulitzer went to Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog.
The Susan Smith Blackburn Award, named for the noted American actress and writer, was established in 1978. This year's Honorable Mention — and a prize of $1,000 — went to British playwright Bryony Lavery for Frozen. Other finalists — who received $500 — include Claudia Allen for Unspoken Prayers, Helen Cooper for Three Women and A Piano Tuner, Charlotte Eilenberg for The Lucky Ones, Kate Fodor for Hannah and Martin, Debbie Tucker Green for Born Bad, Rinne Groff for Orange Lemon Egg Canary, Anne Ludlum for Cover Shot, Heather McDonald for When Grace Comes In, Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten for Omnium Gatherum and Judith Thompson for Habitat.
Judges for the twenty-fifth annual awards were actress Ellen Burstyn, Royal National Theatre Studio head Sue Higginson, Britain’s Nitro artistic director Felix Cross, playwright Tony Kushner, British actor Peter Eyre and New York's Second Stage Theatre artistic director Carole Rothman.
Rules for submission are, as per a release, "Plays are eligible whether or not they have been produced, but any first production must have taken place within the preceding twelve months. Each script is read by at least three members of an international reading committee in order to select ten to twelve finalists. The twelve finalists were chosen from a field of approximately 90 submissions. All final nominations were read by all six judges."