A.R. Gurney, best known for his plays The Dining Room, What I Did Last Summer, The Perfect Party, Mrs. Farnsworth, and Scenes from an American Life

The PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Awards for Drama 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.

2007 Judges

Paige Evans, James Houghton, and Donald Margulies

From the Judges’ Citation

“Gurney looks upon his flawed characters critically, but with compassion. From play to play, he is alternately chronicler, caricaturist, philosopher, social critic, and romantic. Like his mentor Thornton Wilder, he is wiser than anyone in the room but never a scold; his whimsical turns in plays like The Fourth Wall and Sylvia are comic conceits worthy of James Thurber. His love of theater pervades his work. He is always challenging the form and in so doing challenges himself and his audience. He is a gentleman and a scholar, and a stellar, living example of that endangered species, The American Playwright.”

Past Honorees

Adrienne Kennedy, Wallace Shawn, Lanford Wilson, John Guare, Maria Irene Fornes, Richard Foreman, Horton Foote, Edward Albee, and Arthur Miller