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Mona Mansour to Receive Kesselring Prize for Playwriting

The playwright of ‘The Vagrant Trilogy’ will receive the $25,000 award from the National Arts Club in a virtual ceremony.

NEW YORK CITY: The 2020 Kesselring Prize for playwriting—a $25,000 award given annually to an outstanding playwright deserving of national recognition—will be presented to Mona Mansour by the National Arts Club during a virtual ceremony on Thurs., Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. This marks the 40th year of the Kesselring Prize, presented annually by the club, and the evening will include a special look back at the history of the award, in addition to the tribute to Mansour.

Mona Mansour. (Photo by Joseph Moran)

Under the direction of Michael Parva, longtime artistic director of the Kesselring Prize, the evening will feature readings from Mansour’s plays, with a cast featuring Tala Ashe, Nadia Bowers, Deirdre O’Connell, Joshua Chessin-Yudin, Sarah Nina Hayon, Nadine Malouf, Corey Stoll, and Hadi Tabbal.

“At a time when the theatre community has been so challenged, we are grateful to be able to offer our continued support through the Kesselring Prize,” said Alice Palmisano, president of the National Arts Club, in a statement. “Ms. Mansour joins a talented and diverse group of playwrights who have received this award—which, over the years, has become an indicator of future success. We look forward to celebrating her work during this special evening.”

Mansour’s best-known works include The Vagrant Trilogy (three plays spanning five generations in the lives of a Palestinian man and his family), and We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War. Mansour also leads the Middle-Eastern playwrights unit at the playwright development company the Lark, and is co-founder of the theatre collective Society.

The Kesselring Prize for playwriting was established in 1980 by National Arts Club member Charlotte Kesselring, widow of noted playwright and club member Joseph
Kesselring (Arsenic and Old Lace), to honor and support as yet nationally unrecognized playwrights. Past recipients include Tony Kushner, Anna Deavere Smith, Nicky Silver, Lynn Nottage, Bridgette Carpenter, Tracey Scott Wilson, Rajiv Joseph, and more recently Lucas Hnath, Lindsey Ferrentino, Lauren Yee, James Ijames, and Inda Craig-Galvin. Each year, the National Arts Club invites nonprofit theatres across the U.S. to nominate an emerging playwright for the prize, with the honoree selected by a committee, led by NAC Board of Governors Member David Glanstein, that includes playwrights John Guare and Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Lincoln Center Theater dramaturg Anne Cattaneo. Mansour was nominated for the Kesselring by Seattle Rep.

The online event is free and available to the public with registration. Information on registration can be found at

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