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Mona Mansour Wins 2020 Kesselring Prize

The prize, given by the National Arts Club, comes with a $25,000 award.

NEW YORK CITY: The National Arts Club has announced that playwright Mona Mansour will be awarded the 2020 Kesselring Prize for playwrighting. This $25,000 award, which includes a two-week residency and one-year membership at the Gramercy Park club, is given annually to “an outstanding playwright deserving of national recognition.” The award will be presented during a virtual ceremony later this year.

Mona Mansour.

“When you’re a playwright, you anticipate the ripple effect your words and ideas have with audiences when they see the play,” said Mansour in a statement, “but with the theatre on pause as it has been, it is especially exhilarating that the language of the play still resonates in a way that has led to this great honor. Being awarded the Kesselring is incredibly gratifying.”

Mansour was nominated by Seattle Repertory Theatre for her play The Hour of Feeling, which is part of her The Vagrant Trilogy. The Vagrant Trilogy had been set to make its New York City debut in March 2020 at the Public Theater, but was postponed, with new dates yet to be announced. Mansour’s other works include We Swim, We Talk, We Go to WarBeginning Days of True JubilationUrge for Going; and The Way West. A Lebanese-American playwright, Mansour frequently writes about the Middle East and she leads a playwrights group of Middle-Eastern Americans in conjunction with the Lark Theatre. Mansour is also a member of New Dramatists and co-founder of the new theatre collective, Society.

“During this unprecedented time when live theatre has been suspended, our club and the Kesselring committee know that writers continue to write, and it is more important than ever before that we help them keep writing as we move forward,” said Alice Palmisano, president of the National Arts Club, in a statement. “It is a thrill to give this award to Mona Mansour in the 40th year of the Kesselring Prize.

Mansour joins previous winners, including Inda Craig Galvan, Lauren Yee, Lindsey Farrentino, James Ijames, Tracy Scott Wilson, Lucas Hnath, Rajiv Joseph, Anna Deavere Smith, Deb Margolin, Nicky Silver, and Melissa James Gibson. The prize was established in 1980 by Charlotte Kesselring, widow of playwright Joseph Kesselring, to honor and support emerging writers who are not yet nationally recognized, and provide them with an honorarium and indirect support towards development of their new work.

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