Valentina Abu Oqsa Wins the 2012 Etel Adnan ‘Women Playwrights’ Award

This week  in Stockholm, Sweden, the winner of the 2012 Etel Adnan Award for Women Playwrights was announced; it was Palestinian playwright and poet Valentina Abu Oqsa, for her “أنا حرة “, or “I Am Free.” 

Abu Oqsa’s play was recognized for its “creativity in presenting an original theme using captivating language and unusually profound characters,” according to a news release. The play was selected by a panel of Lebanese and Swedish judges.

Abu Oqsa was awarded $5,000 USD and the opportunity to be translated into English, although the text was apparently already staged in English in the US last October. According to the release, the play will now be co-produced by the Swedish National Theatre and Al-Madina Theater, and will be staged in Lebanon, Sweden, and will also tour “some of the European countries.”

This was the third and final time the award will be given: The first Etel Adnan Award went to Lebanese playwright Valerie Kashar for her play “Confession” in 2010, and the second award went to Jordanian playwright Lana Nasr  for her “The Red Bag Lost-and-Found Room.”

This year’s award was, as scheduled, the last.

Of Abu Oqsa’s play, the jury said, “Ms. Abu Oqsa’s mesmerizing language, her fully realized characters with such unusual depth, and her original take on a theme of supreme importance is and should be the envy by all playwrights regardless of taste, class, gender and ethnicity.”

The award had aimed to “recognize and promote Arabic literature and drama by women writers in the Arab region and to disseminate their work around the world.” According to organizers, “The award also aspires to increase the number of plays penned by women writers residing in the Arabic-speaking countries.”

This year’s prize judges included the executive director of Beirut’s Al Madina Theatre, Nidal Al-Achkar; Lebanese American University professor Dr. Mona Knio; literature and gender scholar Asa Sarachu; playwright Daniela Kullman; poet Ms. Rawia Mora; dramaturg Mikael Wranell; professor of theatre Yael Feiler; and dramaturge Diane Bimont.

It’s a shame, of course, that the award will be no more.


Articles about the play in English, and translated from the Arabic press, on Abu Oqsa’s website.

More about the award from Women Playwrights International.