The mid-career award goes to Nilo Cruz, whose works include Anna in the Tropics, Beauty of the Father, Lorca in a Green Dress, Two Sisters and a Piano, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Dancing on Her Knees, and A Park in Our House.

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.

2009 Judges

Richard Nelson, Theresa Rebeck, and Sarah Ruhl.

From the Judges’ Citation

“Nilo Cruz is a poet, painter, humanist, teacher, and of course, a playwright—and he brings all of these vocations to bear in his plays. His language has a light around it, an alchemical magic, a pared down poetry, a listening quality. In his extraordinary body of work, he creates full human beings and panoramic worlds, full of lucid mysteries. In an age in which artists are not necessarily interested in beauty or the sublime, Nilo Cruz writes about beauty, and hints at the sublime, and if that is old-fashioned, then let us sing a hymn to the old-fashioned. His long and varied career in the theater—in which he has also directed, translated, and written theater for children—speaks to his largeness, experimentation, and interest in work for its own sake—for its difficulties, for its questions. Cruz is interested in invisible worlds and the most silent subtle gestures. At the same time, he never forgets the most human and concrete—things like hunger and cigars. He has been compared to Lorca for his poetry and Chekhov for his interest in intricate human behaviors. One might also compare him to Anouilh for his ability to embed the political in the larger world of the mythic, sometimes through the eyes of a child. Nilo Cruz, quite simply, loves the theater and is a consummate person of the theater. We are lucky to have him; may he write us many more plays.”