U.K. Playwright Lucy Kirkwood Awarded Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Chimerica

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25 Feb 2014

United Kingdom-based playwright Lucy Kirkwood received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, an annual award that recognizes female playwrights, for her play Chimerica Feb. 25. 



A Special Commendation was awarded to Phoebe Waller-Bridge for her debut play, Fleabag.

Kirkwood and Waller-Bridge were honored at a private reception in London, where Phyllida Lloyd presented Waller-Bridge with a Special Commendation award of $5,000 and Kirkwood with an award of $25,000 and a signed and numbered print by artist Willem de Kooning.

Here's how Chimerica is billed: "A gripping political examination and engaging personal drama, Chimerica tells the story of an American photojournalist who witnessed the events of Tiananmen Square in 1989, and who twenty-three years later sets out to find the subject of his most famous photograph — the mysterious Tank Man."

Also attending the Award Presentation in London were U.K. playwrights and Prize finalists Beth Steel and Caroline Bird. International theatre critic and Susan Smith Blackburn Prize board member Matt Wolf also spoke, addressing the importance of the Prize in the advancement of women playwrights.

The finalists, who each received an award of $2,500, included the following:

Caroline Bird (UK) - Chamber Piece
Sheila Callaghan (US) - Elevada
Alexandra Collier (Australia) - Holy Day
Lauren Gunderson (US) - I and You
Joanna Murray-Smith (Australia) - Switzerland
Lucy Prebble (UK) - The Effect
Theresa Rebeck (US) - Zealot
Beth Steel (UK) - Wonderland

Co-founded by Emilie S. Kilgore and William Blackburn, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize honors new English-language plays by women on an annual basis, reflecting the values and interests of Blackburn, an American actress and writer who lived in London during the last 15 years of her life.

Previous winners include Annie Baker's The Flick, Jennifer Haley's The Nether, Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive, Chloe Moss's This Wide Night, Katori Hall's Hurt Village, Judith Thompson's Palace of the End, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's Behzti (Dishonour), Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House, Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman, Julia Cho's The Language Archive, 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, Moira Buffini's Silence and Caryl Churchill's Serious Money.

The international panel of judges for the 2013-14 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize includes, in the U.S., Wendy Goldberg, artistic director of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center; Tony nominee Jessica Hecht; and Emmy winner Jim Parsons. U.K. judges are Phyllida Lloyd, Olivier Award winner Simon Stephens and Tony and Olivier-nominated actor Lia Williams.

Visit blackburnprize.org for more information.