Christopher Durang

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.

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2012 Judges

Robert Brustein, John Lahr, and Stephen Wadsworth

From the Judges’ Citation

Obie Award winner and Tony nominated Christopher Durang is a prolific playwright who Robert Brustein has described as “an angelic choir boy with poison leeching through his writing fingers.” Durang’s warmhearted sense of disgust has turned itself on the Catholic Church, Russian literature, and American musicals, among other subjects. His satiric voice and confrontation of taboo issues has won over the public and professionals alike. Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver starred in two of his early plays— The Idiots Karamazov and Beyond Therapy, respectively, and directors Alan Arkin and Jerry Zaks have taken on his work. Durang has carried the Theatre of the Absurd to its extreme farcical boundaries, and rooted out inconsistencies in institutions as well as the human condition.

Past Winners

Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Horton Foote, Richard Foreman, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Lanford Wilson, Wallace Shawn, Adrienne Kennedy, A. R. Gurney, Richard Nelson, Sam Shepard, David Mamet, and David Henry Hwang