Lynn Nottage's Sweat Wins Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

News   Lynn Nottage's Sweat Wins Susan Smith Blackburn Prize
Lynn Nottage has been awarded the prestigious award for women playwrights.
Lynn Nottage
Lynn Nottage

The 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has been awarded to U.S. playwright Lynn Nottage for her play Sweat, a personal and political drama exploring America's industrial decline.

Tanya Moodie, award-winning theatre and film actor and one of this year's Blackburn Prize judges, presented Nottage with an award of $25,000 and a signed and numbered print by artist Willem de Kooning at a ceremony at the National Theatre in London February 22.

Nottage, who previously won the Pulitzer Prize for Ruined, debuted her newest work, Sweat, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival last year. The premiere was followed by a recently concluded run at D.C.'s Arena Stage. Amid critical acclaim, there was talk of a potential New York transfer and subsequent Broadway run, though no official announcement has yet been made.

Set in a Pennsylvania town at the turn of the millennium, the characters in Sweat struggle to reclaim what has been lost following the nation's industrial decline. When there is talk of layoffs among a group of factory co-workers and friends, their close bonds begin to shatter. The changes are followed by a horrific crime, which shocks the community.

Established in 1978 in honor of American actress and writer Susan Smith Blackburn, the prize is the oldest and largest award given to women playwrights. Chosen from over 150 nominated plays from across the U.S. and U.K., the 2016 finalists who each received an award of $5,000 were Sarah Burgess' Dry Powder; Rachel Cusk's Medea; Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves; Sam Holcroft's Rules for Living; Anna Jordan's Yen; Suzan-Lori Parks' Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3); Bea Roberts' And Then Come The Nightjars; and Noni Stapleton's Charolais.

In addition to Moodie, the international panel of judges included the following: in the U.K., critic and author Kate Bassett; Jeremy Herrin and artistic director of Headlong Theatre. In the U.S.: actress and filmmaker Greta Gerwig, Tony-winning director Sam Gold and Obie-winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.

For more information on the annual prize visit

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