All the Way and Party People among five finalists
By Patrick Healy, New York Times, December 11, 2012
Two recent Off Broadway plays and two works produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival are among the five finalists for the new $100,000 theater award established to honor Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his interest in American history, the Columbia University Libraries announced on Tuesday. The winner of the annual prize, to be chosen by a jury of writers and academics, will be announced on Feb. 22, Mr. Kennedy’s birthday. The finalists are:
• “All the Way,” about Lyndon Baines Johnson’s first year as president, by Robert Schenkkan (a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright for “The Kentucky Cycle”) and produced at the Oregon festival.
• “The Body of an American,” about the responsibilities and challenges of reporting on war, by Dan O’Brien and produced at the Portland Center Stage in Oregon.
• “Hurt Village,” about an African-American family in a housing project in Memphis, by Katori Hall and produced at the Signature Theater in New York.
• “Party People,” about former 1960s activists looking back on that era, by the performance ensemble Universes and produced at the Oregon festival.
• “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” about the evolving attitudes of women toward marriage and careers, by Gina Gionfriddo and produced at Playwrights Horizons in New York.
The finalists for the award — formally titled the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History — were chosen through nominations from about 20 theater professionals in the United States. One of theater’s most lucrative prizes, it was established in September by Mr. Kennedy’s sister Jean Kennedy Smith, a former United States ambassador to Ireland, with the assistance of the Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner and officials at Columbia.
According to its mission statement, the award will go to a play or musical that “enlists theater’s power to explore the past of the United States, to participate meaningfully in the great issues of our day through the public conversation, grounded in historical understanding, that is essential to the functioning of a democracy.” The Columbia University Libraries will collaborate with prize recipients to create online study guides related to the winning works, incorporating historical research and scholarly discussions.
Link to NY Times article