The finalists for the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize have been revealed.
Celebrating women+ playwrights, over 160 pieces were nominated, with ten texts then presented in the final round.
The winner will win a $25,000 cash prize, as well as a signed print by Willem de Kooning. Each of the finalists will receive a $5000 award, and one piece may be honoured with a Special Commendation prize of $10,000.
This year the judges were director Natalie Abrahami, actor Paapa Essiedu, designer Bunny Christie, director Lileana Blain-Cruz, actor Jason Butler Harner and director Seema Sueko.
Leslie Swackhamer, the Executive Director of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, said: "In this time of crisis when our theatres are dark, our readers and judges have found great solace and inspiration in connecting with the vibrancy of this work. These plays are fierce, brave and compelling. Bold in their narrative strategies, the plays are inventive and provocative.
"These are strong and utterly unique voices which celebrate theatricality and our common humanity. Many of these playwrights had their plays postponed, cancelled and interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now more important than ever to celebrate their work. Theatres may be dark at this moment, but when they come back to glorious life, these incredible plays will light up the darkness."
The ten shortlisted plays are
Glace Chase (Aus/US) – Triple X
Erika Dickerson-Despenza (US) – cullud wattah
Miranda Rose Hall (US) – A Play for the Living in the Time of Extinction
Dawn King (UK) – The Trials
Kimber Lee (US) – The Water Palace
Janice Okoh (UK) – The Gift
Ife Olujobi (US) – Jordans
Frances Poet (UK) – Maggie May
Jiehae Park (US) – The Aves
Beth Steel (UK) – The House of Shades
Poet's Maggie May had its run disrupted by the pandemic (closing after just three previews), as did Steel's The House of Shades,, which was meant to premiere at the Almeida Theatre with a cast including Anne-Marie Duff.
Previous prize winners have included Lynn Nottage's Sweat, Annie Baker's The Flick and Caryl Churchill's Fen.
The winner will be revealed in April.