Tena Štivičić Wins 2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

by Jacob Coakley

Tena Štivičić, winner of the 2015 Susan Smith Blackburn PrizeTena Štivičić won the award for her play 3 Winters, a sweeping family saga set in Zagreb, Croatia, in the years 1945-2011 that creates a portrait of an eclectic family held together by generations of formidable women.

Tena Štivičić's
“3 WINTERS”
WINS 2015 SUSAN SMITH BLACKBURN PRIZE
INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR WOMEN PLAYWRIGHTS
PRESENTED BY REBECCA HALL

New York, NY - The 2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has been awarded to Tena Štivičić for her play 3 Winters. On March 2, New York's Playwrights Horizons hosted a celebration of the Winner and Finalists of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, marking the 37th Anniversary of the international prize, which is based in Houston, New York and London. The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is the oldest and largest prize awarded to women playwrights.

BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning star of stage and screen and one of this year’s Blackburn Prize Judges, Rebecca Hall, presented Tena Štivičić with an award of $25,000 and a signed and numbered print by artist Willem de Kooning.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Marsha Norman, introduced the evening with remarks about the impact of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in spearheading the production of plays by women.

The list of 2015 Finalists for The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, chosen from over 140 plays, includes Lisa D'Amour (U.S.), Airline Highway; Alice Birch (U.K.), Revolt. She said. Revolt again; Alecky Blythe (U.K.), Little Revolution; Clare Barron (U.S.), You Got Older; Clara Brennan (U.K.)- Spine; Katherine Chandler (U.K.)-Parallel Lines; Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig (U.S.)- The World of Extreme Happiness; Lindsey Ferrentino (U.S.)- Ugly Lies the Bone; Zodwa Nyoni (U.K.) Boi Boi Is Dead; Heidi Schreck (U.S.) Grand Concourse; and Ruby Rae Spiegel (U.S.), Dry Land; Each Finalist receives an award of $5,000.

Premiered by London's National Theatre, 3 Winters is a sweeping family saga set in Zagreb, Croatia, in the years 1945-2011. 3 Winters creates a portrait of an eclectic family held together by generations of formidable women. Through the lens of one family's struggle and triumphs, we witness the story of Croatia, from the remnants of monarchy to Communism, democracy, war and the EU. Reviewer for The Guardian, Michael Billington described the play as a "richly complex mosaic", where "what emerges, with unequivocal clarity, is the way political events shape personal relationships and the capacity of women to adjust to history's hardships."

Last year's Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood also won the U.K.'s Olivier Award for Best New Play and the Evening Standard Award for Best Play. Subsequent to winning the 2012-2013 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for The Flick, Annie Baker was honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Steinberg Playwright Award as well as with the Horton Foote Legacy Project. The Nether by Jennifer Haley, Winner of the 2011-2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, is currently receiving its New York premiere in a production by MCC Theater at the Lucille Lortel Theatre directed by Anne Kaufman, while also running in London's West End in a transfer of the Royal Court's production of The Nether, directed by Jeremy Herrin.

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, co-founded by Susan’s sister and husband, Emilie S. Kilgore, and William Blackburn, honors an outstanding new English-language play by a woman each year. Many of the Winners have gone on to receive other honors, including Olivier, Lilly, and Tony Awards for Best Play. Eight Blackburn Finalist plays have subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. These plays also benefit from the interest the Prize generates, often leading to productions at theatre companies throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

In addition to Ms. Hall, the international panel of judges for the 2015 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize included National Theatre associate director Bijan Sheibani, U.S., actor Carmen Herlihy, Scottish playwright Rona Munro, U.S. director Liesl Tommy and Chay Yew, artistic director of Chicago's Victory Gardens Theatre.

Over 140 plays were submitted for consideration this year. The submitting theatres for the 2015 Finalists are the Almeida Theatre, Colt Coeur, The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Marin Theatre Company, The National Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, the RSC, Roundabout Theatre Company, Sherman Cymru, Soho Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Wilma Theater.

Bio: Tena Štivičić was born in Zagreb, Croatia. She lives in London and writes in English and Croatian. Her plays Can't Escape Sundays (2000), At Deathbed (1998), The Two of Us (2002), Fragile! (2004), Fireflies (2007), Felix (2008), Invisible (2011), Europe (2013) and plays for children Perceval – the Quest for the Grail (2001) and Psssst! (2004) have been produced in a number of European countries and translated and published in some ten languages. They have won numerous awards including the European Authors Award and Innovation Award at Heidelberg Stueckemarkt in Germany 2008 for Fragile!

Europe was co-written with leading European playwrights Malgorzata Sikorska Miszczuk, Lutz Hubner and Steve Waters and produced by the Birmingham REP, ZKM Zagreb, Teatr Polski Bydgoszcz and Dresden Staatstheater.

In 2007, she wrote a one-act play as part of an omnibus of plays entitled Goldoni Terminus, premiered at the Venice Biennale. Her play Seven Days in Zagreb was part of the European Theatre Convention project entitled Orient Express in 2009. A feature film adapted from her play Invisible is currently in pre-production. She holds an MA in Writing for Performance from Goldsmiths College, University of London.