Thursday, March 1, 2012

Jennifer Haley and "The Nether" Win Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Playwriting

This year's Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, which carries with it a cash award of $20,000 and a specially commissioned Willem de Kooning lithograph, has been awarded to American playwright Jennifer Haley for her play, "The Nether," which involves a "vast, virtual world" where everyone is anonymous and that anonymity affords them the opportunity to "live out any fantasy they desire." Haley's main character, a cyberdetective, encounters danger, a clash of wills, and an examination of the very nature of existence as she enters the secretive circles within that cyberworld.

Jennifer Haley
Haley is originally from Texas, although based in Los Angeles now. "The Nether" was given a reading at the Playwrights Union Reading Festival in 2010, with workshops at the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference and New York's Lark Play Development Center in 2011. It will get another reading this month at the Philadelphia Theatre Company as part of their PTC@Play series.

Haley is also known for "Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom," a Humana Festival play in 2008. It, too, involves the internet and dangerous games, as a subdivision of teenagers get mixed up with a battle against a virtual army of zombies that makes them lose sight of the line between reality and fantasy.

To see the other finalists for this year's Blackburn Prize, click here or here.

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