The honors are split between two selected playwrights: one receiving "a specially commissioned art object...presented to a master American dramatist, in recognition of his or her body of work" and the other "a cash prize of $5,000...awarded to an American playwright in mid-career, whose literary achievements are vividly apparent in the rich and striking language of his or her work" as the guidelines state. For the 2003 award, Guare receives the former and Lucas the latter.
The awards were developed to reflect Laura Pels' dedication to supporting excellence in American theatre as well as PEN's commitment to recognizing and rewarding the playwright's literary accomplishment. Past winners include Arthur Miller and Richard Greenberg (1998), Edward Albee and Paula Vogel (1999), Horton Foote and Suzan Lori Parks (2000), Richard Foreman and Charles L. Mee (2001) and Maria Irene Fornes and Tony Kushner (2002).
Guare's works have featured both plays and librettos, including House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, Sweet Smell of Success, Lydie Breeze, Chaucer in Rome and A Few Stout Individuals.
Lucas has penned plays and musical books as well, including Prelude to a Kiss, Marry Me a Little, Reckless, The Dying Gaul, Stranger and This Thing of Darkness.
The PEN Literary Awards will be presented at a ceremony May 20 at the Walter Reade Theatre in Lincoln Center. The over 2,700 members of the PEN American Center include poets, playwrights, essayists, editors, and novelists (hence the acronym PEN) as well as literary translators and agents. PEN American Headquarters is housed in New York City with branches located in Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco. For more information on PEN, visit their website at www.pen.org.