The Dramatists Guild Foundation recognizes achievement in the theater by administering and/or presenting the following awards.
The Legacy Playwrights Initiative Award
The industry-wide Legacy Playwrights Initiative is a process of rediscovery and advocacy for important elder playwrights whose writing has fallen out of the public eye. The Initiative aims to honor these writers and, as necessary, provide financial support for the exigencies of late life. The Initiative includes: Legacy Playwright Awards for sustained achievement, enduring excellence, and influence on the American theatre; advocacy and, when possible, financial incentives for professional theatre production; reissues of previously published plays; activities to build awareness within the profession and within American universities, to get the Legacy playwrights’ work read, taught, and produced.
This initiative was launched by a founding committee of Anne Cattaneo (Lincoln Center Theater), Benita Hofstetter Koman (formerly of The Roy Cockrum Foundation), Todd London (Dramatists Guild), and Rachel Routh (Dramatists Guild Foundation), with fiscal sponsorship from the Dramatists Guild Foundation and in partnership with The Dramatists Guild of America and numerous theater professionals from across the industry. Founding support comes from Venturous Theater Fund, John Lee Beatty, Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman, and others. Initiative partners include Broadway Play Publishing, Concord Theatricals, Dramatists Play Service, Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and the National New Play Network.
This year’s winners are Ed Bullins, Constance Congdon, and Philip Kan Gotanda.
The Georgia Engel Comedy Playwriting Prize
The Georgia Engel Comedy Playwriting Prize was spearheaded in 2020 by Georgia’s close friends, writer/producer Phil Rosenthal and actress Monica Horan Rosenthal (Rosenthal Family Foundation), producer Dori Berinstein, and actor John Quilty (the Founding Committee). The $10,000 Award will be given annually to a playwright in honor of their work in comedy. The honoree will be chosen by the founding committee, industry leaders, and Dramatist Guild playwriting colleagues. The inaugural winner was Bess Wohl.
The Stephen Schwartz Award
The Stephen Schwartz Award is a pledge to the future of musical theater. Selected by a private committee of composers and industry leaders, the $10,000 Award is given annually to a musical theatre writer whose voice is seen as critical to the continued success of the craft, in unconditional support of their work. The Stephen Schwartz Award debuted in 2019.
Past recipients by year:
- Khiyon Hursey, 2020
- Oliver Houser, 2019
The Thom Thomas Award
Since 2016, DGF has had the privilege of annually awarding the Thom Thomas Award to an alumnus of the Fellows program. This $10,000 award commemorates playwright Thom Thomas’s endless passion for nurturing the next generation of dramatists and his appreciation of DGF’s support of writers. The Thom Thomas Award is made possible through the generous support of his longtime friends and colleagues, Iris Rainer Dart and Helen Lee Henderson. The selected awardee demonstrates great artistic skill and articulates how they would put the money to use. This can include livelihood expenses, project expenses, travel expenses – anything that will support their ability to create their best work.
Past recipients by year:
- Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Julia Meinwald, Benjamin Velez, 2020
- Riti Sachdeva, 2019
- Stefanie Zadravec, 2018
- Sylvan Oswald, 2017
- Chisa Hutchinson, 2016
The Flora Roberts Award
Named in honor of the famed theatrical agent, this award is presented to individuals in recognition and gratitude of their distinguished work in the world of theater and to encourage the continuation of that work.
The Kirkwood Award
Given in honor of author and playwright James Kirkwood to a theater whose mission includes the encouragement, nurturing, and mentoring of emerging playwrights.
The Madge Evans & Sidney Kingsley Awards for Excellence in Theater
Given respectively to a deserving stage actress and a playwright who are mid-career.
Past Recipients by year:
- Judith Light and Tony Kushner, 2018
- Audra McDonald and Craig Lucas, 2016
- Viola Davis and Lisa Kron, 2014
- Linda Lavin and Lynn Nottage, 2012
- Estelle Parsons and David Ives, 2010
- Laura Linney and John Patrick Shanley, 2008
- Marsha Norman and Lois Smith, 2006
- Ruby Dee and Edward Albee, 2005
- Terrence McNally and Judith Ivy, 2004
- August Wilson and Elizabeth Franz, 2003
- Uta Hagen and John Guare, 2002
- Julie Harris and Romulus Linney, 2001
- Marian Seldes and Donald Margulies, 2000
- Kathleen Chalfant and Christopher Durang, 1999
- Frances Sternhagen and Cherry Jones, 1998