The 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize was awarded April 7 to U.S. playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza for her play cullud wattah, in regards to the water disaster in Flint, Michigan. This 12 months’s judges additionally awarded particular commendations to finalists Kimber Lee for The Water Palace and Ife Olujobi for Jordans.
Try the complete ceremony, together with Dickerson-Despenza’s full acceptance speech, above.
“As a playwright, I aspire to be a fragile sculptor of on a regular basis horrors,” stated the playwright upon successful. “I wrote cullud wattah to discover the politics of disgust, disgrace, and refusal by highlighting the rupture of presidency intervention on the intersection of capitalism and environmental racism. The play examines the impression of those horrors so routinely visited upon dispossessed peoples, specifically Black girls. I wrote this play particularly for Black girls on the margins of the margins.”
Cullud wattah is likely one of the performs within the author’s 10-play “Katrina Cycle,” centered on the results of the 2005 hurricane in and past New Orleans. It was resulting from premiere at The Public Theater in 2020, however the manufacturing was canceled because of the pandemic. Her different performs embody shadow/land and [hieroglyph], the latter having simply acquired a digital staging in a San Francisco Playhouse and Lorraine Hansberry Theatre co-production. The previous will debut April 13 as a radio play presentation by The Public. Each cullud wattah and [hieroglyph] were included in the 2019 edition of The Kilroys Record.
Paapa Essiedu, a decide this 12 months, introduced the winner. The prize comes with an award of $25,000 and a signed and numbered print by artist Willem de Kooning. The 2 particular commendation recipients acquired a $10,000 award.
“What a play,” stated Essiedu of cullud wattah. “Oh my God, what a play! Once I say that this play hit me like a prepare. Like a ton of bricks. I don’t suppose I slept for about three weeks after studying this play. It did one thing very vital to me.” Becoming a member of Essiedu on the panel of judges this 12 months have been Natalie Abrahami, Bunny Christie, Lileana Blain-Cruz, Jason Butler Harner, and Seema Sueko.
The 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize digital ceremony, hosted by previous winner Marsha Norman (‘night time Mom), honored all 10 finalists with speeches to spotlight the impression of every work. As previously announced, this 12 months’s finalists additionally included Glace Chase for Triple X, Miranda Rose Corridor for A Play for the LIving within the Time of Extinction, Daybreak King for The Trials, Janice Okoh for The Present, Frances Poet for Maggie Might, Jiehae Park for The Aves, and Beth Metal for The Home of Shades. Over 150 performs have been thought-about for the award.
Awarded yearly since 1977, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize honors a brand new English language play written by a lady. It’s the largest and oldest worldwide prize honoring feminine playwrights. Along with $25,000, winners obtain a signed and numbered print by artist Willem de Kooning.
Lucy Prebble won the award in 2020 for her play A Very Costly Poison. Previous recipients additionally embody Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Fairview, Caryl Churchill’s Fen, Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, Sarah Ruhl’s The Clear Home, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s Behzti (Dishonour), and Julia Cho’s The Language Archive.