Young Jean Lee

Three awards from PEN and the Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater honor a Grand Master of American Theater, a mid-career playwright with an outstanding voice, and an emerging playwright who demonstrates great promise. The PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for an American Playwright in Mid-Career awards a cash prize of $7,500 to an American playwright in mid-career whose literary achievements are vividly apparent in the rich and striking language of his or her work.

From the Judges’ Citation

Young Jean Lee’s work has been challenging and thrilling audiences since her first play opened in 2003. By tackling themes and projects that initially strike her as nightmarish, Ms. Lee writes and directs theater that has a raw, honest vulnerability that the judges think is unprecedented in the American theater. No play she writes is anything like the play that came before, and her treatment of race, gender, and sexual politics onstage is devastatingly astute and subversive. Her dissection of the relationship between the performers and the audience is always strange, scary, and yet remarkably inclusive. The judges can’t wait to see what she does next.”

2016 Judges 

Annie Baker‘s full-length plays include John, The Flick, Circle Mirror Transformation, The Aliens, Body Awareness, and an adaptation of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, for which she also designed the costumes. Her plays have been produced at over 150 theaters throughout the U.S., and have been produced internationally in over a dozen countries. Recent honors include a Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, Obie Award for Best New American Play, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, Hull-Warriner Award, Steinberg Award, and the Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library.

Kirsten Greenidge is a Village Voice/Obie Award winner and a recent PEN/Laura Pels Award recipient. She is the author of Luck of the Irish, Splendor, Bossa Nova, Rust, and many more. She has developed her work at Sundance, National New Play Network, The O’Neill, and New Dramatists, among many others. She is a Huntington Playwriting Fellow, a recipient of an NEA/TCG residency at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and was playwright in residence at Company One Theatre. Her play Milk Like Sugar will be performed at the Huntington in January 2016.

Tracy Letts is the author of the plays Superior Donuts, August: Osage County, Killer Joe, Bug, Man From Nebraska (Pulitzer Prize finalist) and an adaptation of Chekov’s Three Sisters. He is an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His appearances there include: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Tony Award) Homebody/Kabul, The Dazzle, Glengarry Glen Ross, Three Days of Rain, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Letts was the recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for his play August: Osage County. The feature film version, which he also adapted, was produced by the Weinstein Company and starred Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. The film received two Academy Award Nominations.

Past Winners

Richard Greenberg, Paula Vogel, Suzan-Lori Parks, Charles Mee, Jr., Tony Kushner, Craig Lucas, Lynn Nottage, Dael Orlandersmith, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Naomi Iizuka, Sarah Ruhl, Nilo Cruz, Theresa Rebeck, Marcus Gardley, Will Eno, Adam Rapp, Kirsten Greenidge, Donald Margulies, and Anne Washburn

Click here for additional information, including submission guidelines, for the award.