The 2011 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a Master American Dramatist honored David Henry Hwang.

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.

2011 Judges

Kenny Leon, Laura Linney, Thomas Lynch

From The Judges’ Citation

“David Henry Wang has long been one of the outstanding voices in writing for the stage. As a playwright, he has helped shape the direction of American theater and performance for more than thirty years. He has garnered three Obie Awards, a Tony, and many other distinctions—including, now, a PEN/Pels Award for Master American Dramatist. He is well deserving of all of these honors. From his playwriting debut with the groundbreaking FOB (1980), to the hugely acclaimed M. Butterfly (1988), to his most recent, Chinglish (2011), which premiered this year at the Goodman Theater and opened October 11 on Broadway, Hwang has done the remarkable: over and over, he has offered us a window onto other lives that turns out also to be a mirror. He melds the personal and political in ways that honor both while sacrificing neither. Chinglish is among his finest works to date: a truly marvelous play that is both the embodiment and culmination of the broad range of works he has produced over his much lauded career. In the words of one of his compeers and former mentees, the playwright Julia Cho, ‘David Henry Hwang is a deeply American playwright in every sense of the word: relentlessly curious about the forces that make us who we are, and wholly unafraid to examine what being “American” really means.’”