Alice Birch has been named the winner of the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play Anatomy of a Suicide, which received a critically acclaimed debut at The Royal Court last summer with direction by Katie Mitchell. The play portrays three generations of women struggling with a legacy of depression in a family haunted by its past.
Anatomy of a Suicide was among nine other finalists in the running for the prestigious prize, including Aleshea Harris’ Is God Is, winner of the 2016 Relentless Award and which is currently playing an extended run Off-Broadway in a production from Soho Rep; and Lauren Yee’s The Great Leap, which will receive a production from Atlantic Theater Company this spring.
The other finalists from the U.S. were Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over and Tori Sampson’s If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must be a Muhfucka. The other finalists from the U.K. were Elinor Cook’s Out of Love, Nina Raine’s Consent, and Anusree Roy’s Trident Moon. Fiona Doyle, from Ireland, was nominated for her play The Strange Death of John Doe, and Colleen Murphy, from Canada, was nominated for her play The Breathing Hole.
Birch will receive a prize of $25,000, and each of the additional finalists will receive an award of $5,000.
Birch has been a two-time finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize with her plays Many Moons and Revolt. She said. Revolt again. She is the winner of the Arts Foundation Award for Playwriting 2014 and the co-winner of the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright 2014.
Founded in 1977 by Blackburn’s sister, Emilie Kilgore, and Blackburn’s husband, William Blackburn, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is named for Susan Smith Blackburn, an American actor and writer who lived in London during the last 15 years of her life.
Last year’s winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize was Clare Barron for her play Dance Nation, which will have its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in April. The 2016 winner was Lynn Nottage for her play Sweat, which transferred to Broadway and was the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The international panel of Judges for the 2017–2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize were Annie Baker, Carrie Cracknell, Denise Gough, Rajiv Joseph, Justine Mitchell, and Phylicia Rashad.