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Dominique Morrisseau and Jasmine Lee-Jones.

Dominique Morisseau, Jasmine Lee-Jones Receive Windham-Campbell Prizes For Drama

The prestigious award comes with an unrestricted grant of $175,000.

NEW HAVEN, CONN.: Yale University will award the 2023 Windham-Campbell Prizes to eight writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. This year’s recipients include Percival Everett (United States) and Ling Ma (United States) in fiction; Susan Williams (United Kingdom) and Darran Anderson (Ireland/United Kingdom) in nonfiction; Alexis Pauline Gumbs (United States) and dg nanouk okpik (Iñupiaq-Inuit) in poetry; and Dominique Morisseau (United States) and Jasmine Lee-Jones (United Kingdom) in drama. This year’s recipients will receive unrestricted grants of $175,000, a $10,000 increase from previous years.

“Reading this year’s recipients excited me because each one taught me new ways of seeing the past, the present, and the future,” said Michael Kelleher, director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes, in a statement. “I can’t wait to see what each of them does next.”

Established in 2013 by Donald Windham in memory of his partner of 40 years, Sandy Campbell, and administered by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the prizes are designed to recognize literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. Since their inception, the Windham-Campell Prizes have supported 91 writers representing 21 countries across the globe.

The awards will be presented in person in the fall during an annual international literary festival at Yale. Writers are nominated confidentially and judged anonymously. The are conferred annually to eight writers working in English anywhere in the world, and can be awarded at any stage of a writer’s career. Sixty nominators from the literary field are selected each year, with 15 nominators for each category being invited to make two nominations each. Finalists are then chosen by the prize juries, with three jurors in each category.

At 24 years old, playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones is the youngest recipient of a Windham-Campbell Prize yet. Her groundbreaking debut play, seven methods of killing kylie jenner, premiered in 2019. It follows Cleo, a self-proclaimed Twitter activist, and her best friend Kara as they negotiate their increasingly entangled offline and online identities. Her sophomore play Curious explores the racial politics of performance in Britain from the 18th century to the present. Lee-Jones is the recipient of an Alfred Fagon Award (2019), a Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright (2019), and a Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright (2019). She lives in London.

“I’m honestly still flabbergasted that the universe (and of course the Windham-Campbell Trust) has made a path for me to forge my dreams on my own terms,” said Lee-Jones in a statement. “Recently, I was feeling so disheartened by the seemingly countless amount of hurdles one is required to overcome to secure funding to pursue creative projects in this industry. Now facing the reality that I can pursue those dreams without any of those hurdles for a while, is not only affirming but also moving on a deeply spiritual level.”

Dominique Morisseau is a preeminent dramatist and artistic leader in the global theatre field. Her body of work includes the critically acclaimed three-play cycle The Detroit Project (Skeleton CrewParadise Blue, and Detroit ’67), as well as Confederates (2022), Pipeline (2017), and Blood at the Root (2014). Her work draws upon the rich histories of Black American literature, music, and activism to create dramatic experiences that delve into the entanglement of art and politics. Most recently, she has received a Drama Desk Award (2019), a MacArthur Fellowship (2018), two Obie Awards (2018, 2016), and a Steinberg Playwright Award (2015). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.

“With all going on in the world,” said Morisseau in a statement, “it is beyond joyous to learn that my work and voice matters and I’m being encouraged to continue on! As an artist, the ability to continue to make a living telling stories is vital to my growth and mission in life, and awards like these help to make a pathway for my creativity and passion to thrive. It’s thrilling and inspiring!”

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