Ava Pickett Receives 2024 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize | Playbill

Awards Ava Pickett Receives 2024 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

The award honors female and non-binary playwrights who have written English-language plays.

Ava Pickett

British playwright Ava Pickett has won the 2024 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Founded in 1978, the prestigious award honors female and non-binary playwrights across the world who have written English-language plays.

Pickett's play 1536 was selected as the winner amongst more than 200 submissions. Set in Tudor Essex, 1536 follows three best friends in the wake of Anne Boleyn's arrest as they struggle with what it means to be a woman in a society where marriage is both a necessity and a possible death sentence.

The judges of the 2024 prize lauded Pickett's work for its ability to “speak across the centuries” with “sparkling dialogue and thrilling, charismatic writing underpinned by great craft and restraint.” Additionally, they applauded the play’s portrayal of a “rising tide of puritanical misogyny,” and how it affects the characters and their relationships in ways both “brilliant and chilling.”

Pickett garners a cash award of $25,000, and a signed limited-edition print by renowned artist Willem de Kooning, created especially for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. U.S. playwright and finalist Justice Hehir also receives a Special Commendation Award of $10,000. The 8 additional finalists each received an award of $5,000.

The judges for the 2024 prize were Inua Ellams, Sarah Mantell, April Matthis, Clare Perkins, Eric Ting, and Lyndsey Turner.

Named for the late American actor, feminist, and writer Susan Smith Blackburn who lived in London during the last 15 years of her life, the Prize has honored more than 500 plays from playwrights throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and other English-speaking countries.

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