PEN America announced February 12 that playwrights Tom Stoppard and Tanya Barfield will both be honored with one of the four 2020 PEN American Literary Awards at a ceremony to take place March 2 at Town Hall. Hosted by Seth Meyers, the awards will celebrate original and promising writers and aim to raise awareness of these names among the American public.
Four-time Tony-winning playwright Tom Stoppard will receive the second annual Honorary PEN/Mike Nichols Writing for Performance Award. The organization inaugurated the prize last year in partnership with Nichols’ friend and colleague Lorne Michaels; it was presented to Kenneth Lonergan. The honor goes to the playwright who exemplifies the year’s best writing for performance. Stoppard receives the award for his work on Leopoldstadt, which begins its run in London February 12. The play witnesses Jews fleeing persecution in Vienna at the turn of the 19th century.
Among his 13 plays that have bowed on Broadway—in a total of 18 productions—are his debut work Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Travesties, The Real Thing, and the three-part The Coast of Utopia, won him Tony Awards for Best Play.
Lonergan, as well as Cynthia Nixon and Christine Baranski (who both starred in the original 1984 Broadway production of Stoppard’s The Real Thing) will present the author with the award and pay tribute to Nichols.
Award-winning playwright Barfield will be honored with the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award. Barfield is recognized for her body of work that combines “resonance, poignancy, and meticulous social observation,” in line with the values of the award’s namesake. Barfield was chosen by judges Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Kirsten Greenidge, and Naomi Iizuka. Barfield shares a WGA Award for Best Dramatic Series for The Americans. She received the 2013 Lilly Award and the organization’s first annual commission. Her play Blue Door earned a nomination for the Audelco Award, and Bright Half Life was a LAMBDA Literary Award winner.
Director Leigh Silverman, who helmed premieres of Barfield’s Blue Door, The Call, and Bright Half Life, will present the award to the writer. Kerry Butler (who starred in The Call) and Pulitzer Prize finalist Eisa Davis will perform excerpts from the playwright’s canon.
PEN America’s literary awards began in 1963 and have celebrated writers, editors, translators, and critics who represent the year’s most resonant literature across the globe. Click here to purchase tickets for the ceremony.