Alumnae Celine Song & Anchuli Felicia King Nominated for Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2020
BY Robbie Armstrong, February 18, 2020
The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, established in 1978, is given annually to recognize women who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre. Among the ten 2020 finalists are two Playwriting alumnae: Celine Song ’14 for her play Endlings and Anchuli Felicia King ’18 for her play Golden Shield. Past award winners include Sarah Ruhl, Caryl Churchill, Annie Baker, and Columbia Professor Lynn Nottage for her play Sweat. Last year’s winner was Pulitzer Prize winner Jackie Sibblies Drury for her play Fairview.
Each year, selected professional theatre companies are invited to submit full length plays for Award consideration. Plays are eligible whether or not they have been produced. Full length scripts receive multiple readings by an international reading committee, resulting in the selection of ten finalists. A final panel of six judges read each of the plays and select a winning outstanding play and playwright.
Endlings by Celine Song takes place on the Korean island of Man-Jae, where three elderly haenyeos—sea women—spend their dying days diving into the ocean to harvest seafood. They have no heirs to their millennia-old way of life. Across the globe on the island of Manhattan, a Korean-Canadian playwright, twice an immigrant, spends her days wrestling with the expectation that she write “authentic” stories about her identity. But what, exactly, is her identity? And how can she write about it without selling her own skin?
In Golden Shield by Anchuli Felicia King, tenacious young lawyer Julie Chen brings her sister Eva on board as a translator in a risky legal battle with international ramifications. Leading a class action exposing an American tech giant's involvement with the Chinese government's internet firewall, Golden Shield, they must put their differences aside to confront censorship, mass surveillance, corporate greed and their own complicated past.
The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Award winner will be announced March 2, only one week prior to Endlings’ opening at New York Theatre Workshop. The recipient will receive a $25,000 cash prize.
Golden Shield premiered at Melbourne Theatre Company in August 2019. Endlings begins performances February 19, with Opening Night set for March 9. The play will conclude its Off Broadway premiere March 29.