The late Edward M. Kennedy is being honored with a new drama prize in his name. The annual award, which will be given through Columbia University Libraries in New York, will recognize a new play or musical that explores American history in a meaningful way.
The first recipient of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History will be announced Feb. 22, which is the former senator's birthday. Winners will receive a monetary prize of $100,000.
Kennedy served as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts from 1962 until his death in 2009 at age 77. In a statement sent Thursday, Jean Kennedy Smith said that her brother "loved the arts – museums, books, the performing arts. Music was perhaps dearest to him, but he and I shared an enjoyment of theater – especially, for Teddy, musical theater."
Kennedy Smith thanked playwright Tony Kushner, who she said "has shown tremendous understanding and enthusiasm for this endeavor to honor my brother." Kushner will serve on the prize's board of directors.
Winners will be decided by a panel that will consist of three playwrights, two musical theater writers, two scholars of literature, American history or political science, as well as the president of Columbia University.
The first award will be open to plays and musicals that received their first professional productions in 2012.
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