Lynn Nottage wins 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The winner of the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize was announced yesterday (22 February), with the award going to Lynn Nottage for her play Sweat.

Sweat, which premiered in July 2015 as part of Oregon Shakespeare Festival, explores America’s industrial decline at the turn of the millennium with a look inside a Pennsylvania town whose people struggle to reclaim what’s lost, find redemption and redefine themselves in a new century. It was acclaimed by The New York Times as 'an extraordinarily moving drama [which] hurtles toward its conclusion with the awful inevitability of Greek tragedy.'

Lynn Nottage's last play to be staged in the UK, Intimate Apparel, a multi-award-winning play about the empowerment of a black seamstress in New York City in 1905, received its UK premiere at the Theatre Royal Bath in 2014 before transferring to Park Theatre, London, the same year. She won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for her play Ruined.

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is the oldest and largest prize awarded to women playwrights. Established in 1978, the Prize is given annually to recognize women who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre. The winner receives $25,000 a signed print by artist Willem de Kooning, while all other finalists are each given an award of $5,000. Four other Nick Hern Books writers were shortlisted for the 2016 Prize: Sam Holcroft (Rules for Living), Anna Jordan (Yen), Suzan-Lori Parks (Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts 1, 2 & 3) and Bea Roberts (And Then Come The Nightjars).

This marks the fourth year in a row that an NHB writer has won the Prize, following Tena Štivičić (3 Winters) in 2015, Lucy Kirkwood (Chimerica) in 2014, and Annie Baker (The Flick) in 2013. Other NHB winners include Caryl Churchill, Elizabeth Kuti and Chloë Moss.