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Judith Thompson wins 2008 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize

  Posted on 12/03/2008

The 2008 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize has been awarded to Judith Thompson for her critically acclaimed play Palace of the End, marking the first time a Canadian writer has received the prestigious playwriting award's highest honor. Thompson received $20,000 as well as a signed and numbered print by artist Willem de Kooning at a special 30th Anniversary ceremony last night at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas.

Epic commissioned Palace of the End and supported Judith's development of the script during Epic's 2006 Sunshine Series prior to its highly acclaimed productions in Los Angeles and Toronto. Daniella Topol (Sand, Dead City) will direct Epic's New York Premiere featuring Epic Founding Artist, Teri Lamm, and Heather Raffo (Nine Parts of Desire). Performances begin June 11, 2008.

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is given annually to recognize women from around the world who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre. The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize reflects the values and interests of Susan Smith Blackburn, noted American actress and writer who lived in London during the last 15 years of her life. She died in 1977 at the age of 42. Over 300 plays have been chosen as finalists since the prize was instituted in 1977. Over 60 of them are frequently produced in the United States today. Six Blackburn finalist plays have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. The authors of those plays, Margaret Edson, Beth Henly, Marsha Norman, Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel and Wendy Wasserstein are the only women to have done so since the Blackburn Prize was first established.

Palace of the End is a triptych of monologues from real-life characters who have all been gravely impacted by the War in Iraq. This is a theatrical Guernica, with each monologue taking the audience on a harrowing but somehow illuminating journey into the heart of this conflict.

Palace of the End is based on the monologue play My Pyramids by Judith Thompson, first read at the Toronto political cabaret The Wrecking Ball. The premiere production was subsequently produced by Volcano at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, August 2005. Director: Ross Manson; Lynndie England: Waneta Storms; Lighting Designer: Rebecca Picherack; Stage Manager: JP Robichard. Palace was further developed with the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto.

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