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Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2018 finalists announced

Brit finalists include Alice Birch, Elinor Cook and Nina Raine

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Nina Raine and Elinor Cook
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

The finalists have been announced for this year's Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, a major award for female playwrights writing in the English language.

Now in its 40th year, the prestigious award is the oldest prize given to female playwrights and the finalists have been chosen from over 150 nominated plays. They include British playwrights Alice Birch for Anatomy of a Suicide, Elinor Cook for Out of Love, and Nina Raine for Consent. The plays all received their premieres in 2017 at the Royal Court, Edinburgh Fringe and National Theatre respectively.

They are joined by international finalists Fiona Doyle (The Strange Death of John Doe), Aleshea Harris (Is God Is), Colleen Murphy (The Breathing Hole), Antoinette Nwandu (Pass Over), Anusree Roy (Trident Moon), Tori Sampson (If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Muhfucka) and Lauren Yee (The Great Leap).

The winner will be announced in early March, receiving a $25,000 cash prize as well as a signed print by artist Willem de Kooning, created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Each of the additional finalists receives an award of $5,000.

Co-founded by Emilie S Kilgore and William Blackburn, previous winners include Sweat by Lynn Nottage and The Flick by Annie Baker, both of which went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Other past recipients include Caryl Churchill's Serious Money, Katori Hall's Hurt Village, Rona Munro's Bold Girls and Moira Buffini's Silence.

This year's panel of judges included Annie Baker, Carrie Cracknell, Denise Gough and Justine Mitchell.