The prize is given annually to "recognize highly accomplished artists from all disciplines who have pushed the boundaries of their art forms, contributed to social change and paved the way for the next generation."
Established in 1994 through the will of stage and screen actress Lillian Gish, the prize bears one of the largest cash awards, currently valued at approximately $300,000. Previous honorees include Frank Gehry, Bob Dylan, Arthur Miller, Shirin Neshat, Ornette Coleman, Trisha Brown, Anna Deavere Smith, Spike Lee and Maya Lin.
The forthcoming private ceremony in November will include remarks by Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis and playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner. The event will also feature a performance of an excerpt from Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, featuring actors Brandon J. Dirden and Jason Dirden, as well as a musical performance by Parks and bandmate Steven Bargonetti.
In a statement Parks said, “To be a recipient of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize is a great honor. Past winners—I’ve been looking up to them and following in their footsteps for years. And now I’m invited to join them? It’s brilliantly trippy. And it’s humbling too, getting invited into this family of artists.”
The first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, Suzan-Lori Parks is best known for such groundbreaking dramas as Topdog/Underdog—awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002—and Father Comes Home From The Wars.