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PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award

The PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award honors an American Playwright in mid-career with an outstanding voice. The award was developed to reflect Laura Pels’s dedication to supporting excellence in American theater as well as PEN’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding the playwright’s literary accomplishment.

PEN America members are encouraged to nominate playwrights in mid-career through September 15, 2018. Please see nomination guidelines below. Not a member? Become a voting member today.


Previous Winner: PEN/Pels Theater Award for an American Playwright in Mid-Career, 2018

Sybil Kempson, for her fine craft, intertextual approach, and her body of work including Crime or Emergency and Let Us Now Praise Susan Sontag.

Kempson’s plays have been presented in the United States, Germany, and Norway. Her work has received support from the Jerome Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. 

She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a member of New Dramatists, a USA Artists Rockefeller Fellow, an Artist-in-Residence at the Abrons Arts Center, a 2014 nominee for the Doris Duke Impact Award, the Laurents Hatcher Award and the Herb Alpert Award, and a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect. Her plays are published by 53rd State Press, PLAY: Journal of Plays, and Performance & Art Journal (PAJ). MFA Brooklyn College under the instigation of Mac Wellman and Erin Courtney. She teaches and has taught experimental performance writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Brooklyn College, and the Eugene Lang College at the New School in NYC.


Please note that any playwright, writer, or member of the theater community may submit a nomination for a Mid-career playwright. However, a playwright may not nominate his or herself.


    • American Playwright in Mid-career:
      • Playwrights writing in English
      • Playwright must have had a professional production of at least two full-length works mounted in a theater of at least 299 seats and contracted specifically for either limited or open runs.
      • The work of writers produced by regional theaters across the United States will be given consideration equal to work produced in major metropolitan centers.