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.
Pam MacKinnon, Chris McElroen, and Tim McHenry
The committee chooses the ever fierce and fearless Larry Kramer. With plays like The Destiny of Me and The Normal Heart, he has made the theater into a personal and political forum like no other writer of his age. Activism as art rarely sustains itself over time, after the root causes of the political gesture have faded. But through humor, anger and vulnerability, Larry's plays continue to demand attention. The Normal Heart has demonstrated, from its initial year-long run at Public Theater to its successful subsequent revivals in this century, that the play is not only a literary landmark in its time but that theater can, indeed, change the world, save lives and move audiences to action. For this reason alone, this most confrontational of writers stands as one of America's Master Dramatists.
Christopher Durang, David Henry Hwang, David Mamet, Sam Shepard, Richard Nelson, A. R. Gurney, Adrienne Kennedy, Wallace Shawn, Lanford Wilson, John Guare, Maria Irene Fornes, Richard Foreman, Horton Foote, Edward Albee, and Arthur Miller