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Lynn Nottage wins Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

Lynn Nottage: "So many people I admire have been the recipients of this prize in the past.” Lynn Nottage: "So many people I admire have been the recipients of this prize in the past.”
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US playwright Lynn Nottage has won the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play, Sweat.

The annual award celebrates female playwrights who pen work for English-speaking theatre.

Nottage beat nine other finalists including the UK’s Anna Jordan, who was up for her play Yen, and Sam Holcroft, who was nominated for Rules for Living.

Nottage received $25,000, with all the finalists, which also included Rachel Cusk, Bea Roberts and Suzan-Lori Parks, receiving $5,000.

Nottage told The Stage: “It feels tremendous. So many people I admire have been the recipients of this prize in the past.”

She added that there was a “disparity” between the number of female playwrights who get produced and the number of male playwrights, and said it was important to have awards that are dedicated to under-represented groups in the sector.

“I think it’s necessary as long as the other awards remain relatively exclusionary, which is certainly the case. The ideal goal was always inclusion, but we find that doesn’t always happen,” she said, adding: “As long as we are not getting recognised for the excellent work we’re doing, we have to recognise ourselves.”

Sweat, co-commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Arena Stage, is described as a political drama about industrial decline. Nottage researched it over two years.

“That was longer than I normally spend immersed in a subject but it’s a big subject,” she said.

The judging panel for the award including actor Tanya Moodie, who was joined by critic Kate Bassett, directors Jeremy Herrin and Sam Gold, playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and filmmaker Greta Gerwig.

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