NEW YORK: The Dramatists Guild of America has named Adrienne Kennedy the recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award. The award, which will be given at the Guild’s annual awards ceremony at a later date, is presented by the Dramatists Guild Council in recognition of distinguished lifetime achievement in theatrical writing.
“Adrienne Kennedy has used her immense storytelling skill with beautifully brutal imagery to share her theatrical dreamscapes with the world,” Dramatists Guild president Amanda Green said in a statement. “From 1964’s Funnyhouse of a Negro to 2018’s He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, Adrienne has inspired countless young writers by remaining true to herself and her voice, knowing that what she had to say would resonate. The Guild is thrilled to be presenting Adrienne with this long overdue recognition of her gifts and her longtime commitment to the Guild.”
Added Lloyd Suh, a playwright and chair of the Guild’s awards committee, in a statement, “This award is the Dramatist Guild’s highest distinction, and is bestowed upon a writer entirely by other writers. It is our honor to celebrate the the indelible and extraordinary impact of Adrienne Kennedy and her work, not only to the art of playwriting, but to all of us in the community of American dramatists.”
An award-winning playwright, lecturer, and author, Kennedy was born in Pittsburgh in 1931 and attended Ohio State University. She is a two-time Obie Award winner, including for Sleep Deprivation Chamber, which she co-authored with her son, Adam. Sleep Deprivation Chamber premiered at the Public Theater and was later produced by Signature Theatre Company, which devoted an entire season to Kennedy’s work.
Kennedy’s published works include In OneAct, Alexander Plays, and Deadly Triplets, all published by the University of Minnesota Press, and the memoir People Who Led to My Plays, originally published by Knopf and published in paperback by Theatre Communications Group, which also published He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box and Other Plays. Her plays are taught in universities around the country and the world.
Kennedy has been a visiting lecturer at Yale University, New York University, and the University of California at Berkeley, where she was the Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecturer in 1980 and 1986. Other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, and the American Book Award in 1990. Kennedy was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2018.
Her commissions include the Royal Court Theatre, the Public, Jerome Robbins, the Mark Taper Forum, and the Julliard School. She was a distinguished Hutchins Fellow in 2016-2017 and taught in Harvard University’s English department for six semesters. Kennedy has lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for over 50 years has also lived in Italy, London, and throughout Africa.
The Dramatists Guild is the national, professional membership trade association of theatre writers, including playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists. The Guild was established for the purpose of aiding dramatists in protecting both the artistic and economic integrity of their work.
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