Columbia University Libraries, on behalf of the board of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, has announced the five finalist plays for works produced for the first time in 2012. The prize was established earlier this year and this is the first group of finalists to be named by the prize board:
· All the Way, written by Robert Schenkkan and produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon
· The Body of an American, written by Dan O’Brien and produced at the Portland Center Stage in Portland, Oregon
· Hurt Village, written by Katori Hall and produced at the Signature Theater in New York
· Party People, written by UNIVERSES and produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon
· Rapture, Blister, Burn, written by Gina Gionfriddo and produced at Playwrights Horizons in New York
The Edward M. Kennedy Prize is given annually to a new play or musical of merit that, in the words of the prize’s mission statement, "…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."
Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith created the prize to honor the life and legacy of her late brother, Senator Ted Kennedy. Finalists were selected through nominations from a group of 20 theater professionals around the country. The jury will meet at Columbia in early February 2013. The first recipient of the prize will be announced on his birthday, February 22. The winning play will receive an award of $100,000, and will be honored in a ceremony at Columbia on March 4.
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