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Chimerica playwright wins Susan Smith Blackburn award

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Playwright Lucy Kirkwood has won the $25,000 (£15,000) Susan Smith Blackburn prize in the US for her play Chimerica, first seen at the Almeida and Harold Pinter theatres in London last year.

Estabished in 1978, the annual award “recognises women who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre” and is chosen by six judges, three from the UK and three in the US.

The story of a photojournalist attempting to find the famous “tank man” who faced down Chinese tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing in 1989, Chimerica was also judged best new play at the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards in January and in November last year gained similar recognition in both the Evening Standard Theatre Awards and the inaugural Berwin Lee prize, an American initiative to promote links between the US and UK.

Five of the 10 shortlisted writers in this year’s Susan Smith Blackburn prize were British, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s debut play, Fleabag – seen at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and a recipient of The Stage award for acting excellence – receiving the $5,000 (£3,000) special commendation.

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