The PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards recognize a master American dramatist and an American playwright in mid-career, both of whose literary achievements are vividly apparent in the rich and striking language of their work. The former receives a rare first edition of dramatic literature from Bauman’s Rare Books, the latter a $7,500 stipend. The awards were developed to reflect Laura Pels’ dedication to supporting excellence in American theater, as well as PEN’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding the literary accomplishments of playwrights. The judges of the Pels Awards are all distinguished members of the theater community.
Pam MacKinnon, Chris McElroen, and Tim McHenry
For the American Playwright in Mid-Career Award, the committee wants to encourage Kirsten Greenidge to add to her body of work. Her plays Rust, Bossa Nova, Sans-Culottes in the Promised Land, Gibson Girl, Milk Like Sugar and Luck of the Irish, among others, have been seen around the country for more than a decade. They are inherently political and provocative, while also deliciously funny. Kirsten gives voice to largely under-represented characters, placing them in compellingly inventive, yet achingly familiar worlds. Whether careening teens or urban professionals or former NFL stars or stressed-out housekeepers, her characters speak a muscular poetry that is all her own and is at once accessible and heightened, pleasing and jarring. Kirsten is a rare writer who incisively takes on issues of race, culture, class and hierarchy, always attending to the moment-to-moment emotional journey and a rewarding story. Her plays are inclusive, complicated, bold and American. Actors love her people and language, directors love her stories and themes, and audiences lean in.
Will Eno and Adam Rapp, Marcus Gardley, Theresa Rebeck, Nilo Cruz, Sarah Ruhl, Naomi Iizuka, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Dael Orlandersmith, Lynn Nottage, Craig Lucas, Tony Kushner, Charles Mee, Jr., Suzan-Lori Parks, Paula Vogel, and Richard Greenberg