The list includes three women authors, and two plays that are headed for productions on Broadway this spring.
The prize will be announced on or after February 22, the late Massachusetts senator’s birthday. The winning play will receive an award of $100,000, and will be honored in a ceremony at Columbia later this spring.
These are the finalists:
Roe by Lisa Loomer, produced by Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, and Arena Stage.
24-Decade History of Popular Music by Taylor Mac, produced by Pomegranate Arts and Natures Darlings.
Sweat by Lynn Nottage, produced by Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and scheduled to open on Broadway March 26.
Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, produced by South Coast Repertory.
Indecent by Paula Vogel, produced by Yale Repertory Theatre, and scheduled to open on Broadway April 18.
The Kennedy Prize is given annually through Columbia University to a new play or musical that, in the words of the Prize’s mission statement, “…enlists theater's power to explore the past of the United States, to participate meaningfully in the great issues of our day through the public conversation, grounded in historical understanding, that is essential to the functioning of a democracy.”
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the prize. Previous winners have been: Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda (2016); Father Comes Home from the Wars, Parts 1, 2, & 3 by Suzan-Lori Parks (2015); Detroit ’67 by Dominique Morisseau (2014); All the Way by Robert Schenkkan and The Body of an American by Dan O’Brien (2013).
Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith created the prize to honor the life and legacy of her brother, Sen. Ted Kennedy. Finalists were selected through nominations from a group of 20 theater professionals around the country and the final selection will be made by a jury that will meet at Columbia University in February.