NEW YORK CITY: Columbia University and Jean Kennedy Smith have announced Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton as the 2016 recipient of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama. Miranda, who penned the musical and stars as founding father Alexander Hamilton, will receive a cash prize of $100,000.
Created by Smith to honor her late brother, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize is awarded to new plays or musicals that explore the history of the United States and contribute to meaningful conversations of issues through public conversation. Hamilton received its world premiere at the Public Theater in New York City in 2015, and opened on Broadway in August 2015 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
“Out of an extraordinary group of plays that brilliantly illuminate aspects of American history, the committee voted unanimously to award the Edward M. Kennedy prize to Hamilton,” the jury said in a statement. “The committee felt that the spirit of the award is exemplified in this play. It enlists theatre’s power to explore the past of the United States, participating meaningfully in the great issues of our day and grounded in the historical understanding that is essential to the functioning of a democracy. Technically so proficient, historically so sound, artistically so groundbreaking, Hamilton is both inspired by and celebrates the evolving history of the United States, of hip-hop, and of the musical theatre.”
The finalists for the prize were An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, produced by Soho Rep; Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, produced by the Public Theater; Indecent by Paula Vogel, produced by Yale Repertory Theatre; Sweat by Lynn Nottage, produced by Oregon Shakespeare Festival; and Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, produced by South Coast Repertory.