Background first. The Susan Smith Blackburn prize is a $20,000 annual award given to a female playwright writing in English. The prize is given out in NYC and London on alternating years except for every fifth year when it is given out at the Alley. [The woman who administers the prize (which she named after her sister) lives in Houston.] 2008 is the prize’s 30th anniversary, so they thought they’d celebrate a little bigger this year with something they are calling the Houston Special Project. That’s where the commission I’ve been obsessing about comes in.
A call went out to female playwrights to submit a writing sample, artistic statement and theatre references. That initial round of applicants was whittled down to a smaller group, who were then invited to submit a 10-minute play or scene that was unproduced. I’d just written five new pieces for my show in December, but they were all technically “produced” so I had to write something new. And I did, a couple of Mondays ago. Anyway, from this group of finalists, five would be chosen. Those five would be teamed up with five theatres in Houston (the Alley, Stages, TheatreLab, Ensemble and Main Street) (don’t quote me on that – I think those are the five but I’m not totally sure). Each theatre would put together a reading of one of the pieces and a reading of a piece from a former Blackburn winner. Finally, all of the pieces would then be presented together on the Neuhaus Stage at the Alley the day before the Blackburn prize ceremony. You can see why I was hopeful I’d get in on that action. Not only would I get to see my work performed at the Alley, but it would be in front of the Blackburn prize people and my work would be tied with a very prestigious theatre award.
I’m pleased to tell you that my new 10-minute play “Militia Slumber Party” is one of the five!!! Not only that, the theatre that is producing my piece is…wait for it…Alley Theatre! Ha ha! I love it! Still waiting on the details, but I do know that the Houston Special Project will be March 9th. Then the Blackburn prize ceremony will be the following night.
Oh, “Militia Slumber Party” is about three militia members who are having a slumber party. I guess the title kind of says it all… I haven’t even heard the piece outside of my head, so I’m thrilled it’s getting some action so quickly. And it’s nice to have my work performed in Houston by someone other than me. I hope some of you will be able to see the show. Should be very interesting and an unusual offering for Houston theatre audiences.