Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig last summer with a heap of acclaim for Lidless, her play chronicling the journey of a former Guantanamo Bay-detainee who visits his Army interrogator 15 years later.
MTC presented Cowhig’s Lidless here in November, and the praise for the company’s playwright in residence has continued. Lidless was named on Friday as one of 10 finalists for the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, chosen from over 100 nominated plays.
In its 33rd year, the Houston-based annual prize honors outstanding new English-language plays by women. Among the 10 finalists, Cowhig is joined by Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit, Sam Burns’s Not the Worst Place, Georgia Fitch’s Satellite Faith, Katori Hall’s Hurt Village, Lisa Kron’s In the Wake, Tamsin Oglesby’s Really Old, Like 45, Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, Joy Wilkinson’s The Golden Age, and Alex Wood’s The Andes.
The 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize winner is awarded $20,000, and also receives a signed print by renowned artist Willem de Kooning, created especially for the prize. Each of the other finalists receive $1,000. A ceremony honoring all Finalists and announcing the Winner will take place in New York City on February 28.
Lidless received a staged reading in November 2010 as a part of MTC’s New Works Series, which presents works by new and emerging playwrights. The play focuses on Bashir, a former Guantanamo detainee now dying of liver disease, who confronts his interrogator, Alice, to demand reparation for the damage to his body and soul that she caused 15 years earlier.
The play received its world premiere in Summer 2010 at the HighTide Festival in Suffolk, then moved to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it won a Fringe First Award. It is currently running through February 13 at InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia, and will be presented on London’s West End from March 10 through April 2.
Cowhig’s plays have been developed at the Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, PlayPenn, Alley Theatre, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Playwright's Foundation and Yale Repertory Theatre. Other honors include the Yale Drama Series Award, Keene Prize for Literature, Glimmer Train New Writer's Award, commissions from South Coast Rep and Seattle Repertory Theatre and grants from the MacDowell Colony, Ragdale Foundation, Santa Fe Art Institute, Playwright's Center and InterAct Theatre.