- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - Tena Stivicic was still buzzing a day after winning the oldest and most prestigious playwriting prize for women with her sweeping play about four generations of women growing up in Croatia after World War II.

The London-based author of “3 Winters,” which was produced at the National Theatre in London in December 2014, was awarded the international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and $25,000 on Monday night at a ceremony at Playwrights Horizon.

Stivicic said Tuesday she wrote the play in part to try to address the imbalance in the male-dominated theater community and urged more women to both write more plays and write from a female perspective.

“The problem is we’ve all internalized this perspective so it seems perfectly natural to look at the world from the male perspective,” she said. “A lot of women have internalized it. It doesn’t even occur to us that it doesn’t represent life.”

She beat out 11 prize finalists: Lisa D’Amour, Alice Birch, Alecky Blythe, Clare Barron, Clara Brennan, Katherine Chandler, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Lindsey Ferrentino, Zodwa Nyoni, Heidi Schreck and Ruby Rae Spiegel. The nominated plays took audiences across four continents and ranged from the political to the personal.

Stivicic hopes the prize will spur interest in a New York-based production of “3 Winters,” adding: “It is ostensibly a play about a family in Croatia but it deals with so many themes and subject matters that I think are relatable.”

The prize was created to honor of Susan Smith Blackburn, who died of breast cancer in 1977 and honors English-language women playwrights. Eight Blackburn finalist plays have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and some Blackburn winners include Annie Baker, Katori Hall, Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel and Naomi Wallace.

Stivicic already plans to write another play for the National Theatre and later this year hopes cameras will roll on an independent film adaptation of her play “Invisible,” which explores the many sides of migration.

The judges for the 37th Susan Smith Blackburn Prize this year were Chay Yew, Liesl Tommy, Carmen Herlihy, Bijan Sheibani, Rona Munro and actress Rebecca Hall.

In her remarks, Hall noted that women account for roughly 70 percent of theatergoing audiences in both England and America and yet women’s plays are far less likely to be produced than men’s.

“As an actress working in film and theater, I know what it’s like to struggle to have your voice heard. And this award gives writers a megaphone and we all need to listen,” she said.

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Online: https://www.blackburnprize.org

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Mark Kennedy is at https://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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