Ayad Akhtar’s Broadway Wall Street drama Junk is the winner of the 2018 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History presented by Columbia University, the New York Times reports. Tony-nominated and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Akhtar, who won over four other finalists, will be awarded $100,000.
The Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama is given annually to a new play or musical that uses theatre to explore America’s past and contribute meaningfully to the issues of our day.
Five new plays, a number of which played on and Off-Broadway last season, were in the running to win the prestigious award. The finalists were Kirsten Childs’ western musical adventure Bella: An American Tall Tale, which played Off-Broadway last year; Lisa Loomer’s play about the historic Roe vs. Wade case, Roe; Lauren Yee’s King of the Yees; and Dominique Morisseau’s acclaimed Skeleton Crew, which marked the second time the playwright had been nominated for the prize (she won in 2014 for her play Detroit ’67).
Inspired by the real junk bond kings of the day, Junk is set in the high-flying, risk-seeking financial world of the 1980s. The play premiered on Broadway in a production from Lincoln Center Theater last fall, with direction by Doug Hughes and Steven Pasquale in the starring role. Performances ran October 5, 2017–January 7, 2018.
Previous winners of the prize include Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music in 2017, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton in 2016, and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Father Comes Home from the Wars in 2015.
The 2018 finalists were selected through nominations from a group of theatre professionals from across the country.
Check out highlights from Junk on Broadway below: