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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Metzler's 'Close Up Space' named Blackburn Prize finalist

Molly Smith Metzler
Molly Smith Metzler’s Close Up Space – which closed last week at Manhattan Theatre Club – has been selected as a finalist for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Congratulations, Molly! We can’t wait to see where this adventure takes you next! [Molly's Elemeno Pea opens at South Coast Rep Rep tomorrow night.]

Here’s the official announcement from the Blackburn Prize Web site:

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has announced 10 Finalists for its prestigious playwriting award, now celebrating its thirty-fourth year.

The ten Finalists for the 2011-2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, chosen from over 100 submitted plays, are:

Johnna AdamsGidion’s Knot (U.S.); Alice Birch – Many Moons (U.K.); Madeleine George - Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (U.S.); Jennifer Haley – The Nether (U.S.); Nancy Harris – No Romance (Ireland); Zinnie Harris – The Wheel (U.K.), Jaki McCarrick – Belfast Girls (U.K.), Molly Smith Metzler – Close Up Space (U.S.); Meg Miroshnik - The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls (U.S.); Alexis Zegerman – The Steingolds (U.K.).

The Winner of the 2011-2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize will be named at the Awards Presentation on February 28th in London.

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, co-founded by Emilie S. Kilgore and William Blackburn, annually honors an outstanding new English-language play by a woman. For over three decades, the Prize has encouraged women playwrights and drawn attention to notable new works. Many of the Winners have gone on to receive other honors, including Tony Awards and The Pulitzer Prize. The Finalist plays also benefit from the exposure, which generates interest and productions at theater companies across North America and the United Kingdom.

The 2011-2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Winner will be awarded $20,000, and will also receive a signed and numbered print by renowned artist Willem de Kooning, created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Each of the additional Finalists will receive $1,000.

The international panel of judges for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize includes U.S. judges Randy Gener, award-winning writer/editor/critic; Martha Lavey, Artistic Director of the Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago); and Frances McDormand, Oscar and Tony Award-winning film and stage star. U.K. judges are Jonathan Church, Artistic Director of the Chichester Festival Theatre; Ben Power, Associate Director of the National Theatre; and Imogen Stubbs, Actress/Writer/Director and stage and screen star.

The Houston-based Susan Smith Blackburn Prize received the 2010 Theatre Communications Group's National Funder Award. The annual honor goes to a company, foundation or other entity for “leadership and sustained national support of theater in America.”

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize reflects the values and interests of Susan Smith Blackburn, noted American actress and writer who lived in London during the last 15 years of her life. She died in 1977 at the age of 42. Over 300 plays have been chosen as Finalists since the Prize was instituted in 1977. Over 80 of them are frequently produced in the United States today. Seven Blackburn Finalist plays have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. The authors of those plays, Margaret Edson, Beth Henley, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel and Wendy Wasserstein are the only women to have done so since the Blackburn Prize was first established.

American playwright Katori Hall received the 2010- 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play HurtVillage, which was nominated by Signature Theatre Company (New York), where the play will premiere on February 7.

Other recipients of the Prize include Chloe Moss’s This Wide Night, Judith Thompson’s Palace of the End, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's Behzti(Dishonour), Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House, Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman, Cheryl West’s Before It Hits Home, Susan Miller's A Map of Doubt and Rescue, 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, Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive, Moira Buffini's Silence and Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money.

Former judges of The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize over the past thirty-three years are a Who’s Who of the English-speaking theatre and include, Edward Albee, Eileen Atkins, Blair Brown, Zoe Caldwell, Jill Clayburgh, Glenn Close, Harold Clurman, Colleen Dewhurst, Ralph Fiennes, John Guare, A.R. Gurney, David Hare, Doug Hughes, Judith Ivey, Tony Kushner, Janet McTeer, Marsha Norman, Joan Plowright, Marian Seldes, Fiona Shaw, Tom Stoppard, Meryl Streep, Jessica Tandy, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, August Wilson and Joanne Woodward among nearly 200 artists in the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Each year artistic directors and prominent professionals in the theatre throughout the English-speaking world are invited to submit plays. Plays are eligible whether or not they have been produced, but any premiere production must have occurred within the preceding year. Each script receives multiple readings by members of an international reading committee that then selects ten Finalists. All six judges read each Finalist’s play.

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