Playwrights Molly Smith Metzler, Madeleine George, Nancy Harris and Alice Birch Among Ten Blackburn Prize Finalists

By Michael Gioia
01 Feb 2012

Molly Smith Metzler
Molly Smith Metzler

The ten finalists for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, honoring female playwrights and chosen from over 100 nominated plays, were announced Feb. 1. The winner will be named at the Awards Presentation Feb. 28 in London.

Molly Smith Metzler's Close Up Space, the Manhattan Theatre Club production that recently starred David Hyde Pierce, as well as Madeleine George's Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, which played a limited engagement last year at NJ's Two River Theater Company, are among the  finalists.

The finalists and their nominating theatres follow:

Johnna AdamsGidion’s Knot, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (US)
Alice BirchMany Moons, Theatre 503 (UK)
Madeleine GeorgeSeven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, Clubbed Thumb (US)
Jennifer HaleyThe Nether, Center Theatre Group (US)
Nancy HarrisNo Romance, Abbey Theatre (Ireland)
Zinnie HarrisThe Wheel, National Theatre of Scotland (UK)
Jaki McCarrickBelfast Girls, King’s Head Theatre (UK)
Molly Smith MetzlerClose Up Space, Manhattan Theatre Club (US)
Meg MiroshnikThe Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, Alliance Theatre (US)
Alexis ZegermanThe Steingolds, Playful Productions (UK)



The 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize winner will be awarded $20,000, and will also receive a signed and numbered print by artist Willem de Kooning, created especially for the Prize. Each of the additional finalists will receive $1,000.

The international panel of judges for the 34th annual Susan Smith Blackburn Prize includes US judges Randy Gener, award-winning writer/editor/critic; Martha Lavey, artistic director of the Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago); and Frances McDormand, Oscar and Tony Award-winning film and stage star. Judges from the UK are Jonathan Church, artistic director of the Chichester Festival Theatre; Ben Power, associate director of the National Theatre; and Imogen Stubbs, actress/writer/director and stage and screen star.

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize reflects the values and interests of Susan Smith Blackburn, noted American actress and writer who lived in London during the last 15 years of her life. She died in 1977 at the age of 42. Over 300 plays have been chosen as finalists since the Prize was instituted in 1977. Over 80 of them are frequently produced in the United States today. Seven Blackburn Finalist plays have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. The authors of those plays, Margaret Edson, Beth Henley, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel and Wendy Wasserstein, are the only women to have done so since the Blackburn Prize was first established.

American playwright Katori Hall received the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play Hurt Village, which was nominated by Signature Theatre Company (New York), where the play will premiere Feb. 7. Other recipients of the Prize include Chloe Moss’s This Wide Night, Judith Thompson’s Palace of the End, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's Behzti (Dishonour), Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House, Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman, Cheryl West’s Before It Hits Home, Susan Miller's A Map of Doubt and Rescue, Gina Gionfriddo's U.S. Drag, Bridget Carpenter's Fall, Charlotte Jones' Humble Boy, Naomi Wallace’s One Flea Spare, Wendy Kesselman’s My Sister in this House, Jessica Goldberg's Refuge, Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive, Moira Buffini's Silence and Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money.

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, co-founded by Emilie S. Kilgore and William Blackburn, annually honors an outstanding new English-language play by a woman. Many winners have gone on to receive other honors, including Tony Awards and The Pulitzer Prize.

For more information, visit www.blackburnprize.org.