About the Prize
The Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History honors the late Senator’s love of theater and his profound interest in American history. It is awarded annually to a new 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 public conversation, grounded in historical understanding, that is essential to the functioning of a democracy. The Prize is a cash award of $100,000.
The Prize was established by the Senator’s sister, Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, in consultation with the award-winning playwright, Tony Kushner. The Prize is administered by the Columbia University Libraries and overseen by an independent Board of Governors. A group of twenty nominators, selected from drama and theater professionals from around the country, will submit recommendations to a panel of judges, who will decide on the winning piece. The panel will include three playwrights, two musical theater writers, two scholars in the field of American history, political science, or literature, and the President of Columbia University.
The Prize is announced each year on February 22, the anniversary of Senator Kennedy’s birth. A public ceremony is held every spring to honor the winning play or musical.