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Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

The Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award Supported by the Kennedy Center Education Department

Supported by the Kennedy Center Education Department, The Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, initiated in 1977, is part of the Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards Program. The Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award is presented in the memory of the distinguished dramatist for the outstanding KCACTF student-written plays on the subject of the African-American experience. Hansberry was the first African-American playwright, and the youngest of any color, to win the New York Drama Critics Award for her drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which opened on Broadway in 1959. Lorraine Hansberry died in 1965 of cancer, at age thirty-four, at the peak of her career.

The Lorraine Hansberry Awards recognize the outstanding plays written by students of African or Diasporan descent that best express the African American experience.

  1. A first place cash award of $2,500.
  2. O'Neill Fellowship. The first place playwright of the Lorraine Hansberry Award will have the opportunity to attend the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference in Waterford, Connecticut, as official observer. During a ten-day to two-week fellowship at the Conference (July), the playwright will have the opportunity to observe plays by noted playwrights in development and to have access to and assist the artistic staff of the Conference. The O'Neill Fellowship provides travel, room, board, and tuition for the residency.
  3. Dramatists Guild Award. The Dramatists Guild Award provides the playwright with Active membership in the Guild.
  4. The second place award is a cash prize of $1,000.
  5. Grants of $750 and $500 will be made to the theater departments of the college or university producing the first and second place award recipients, respectively.

The play must be produced by a college or university or publicly presented in a "rehearsed" or "staged reading" format following a significant development process. The play comply with the guidelines for scripts entered in the KCACTF Michael Kanin Playwriting Program.

For other questions, refer to "Rules and Procedures for the Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards Program" above.

View the list of Past Winners.


The Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award: An Anthology of Prize-Winning Plays has been published by Clark Publishing, Inc. The anthology was designed as an educational resource text for college students, professors, and all theatre professionals. The Lorraine Hansberry Award is a competition for student plays best expressing the African American experience.

The Lorraine Hansberry National Playwriting Award Winners

2011
Cry Old Kingdom,
by Jeff Augustin, University of California – San Diego

Runner upThe Urban Retreat by A. Zell Williams, New York University

2010
THE CONTRACT,
by James Webb, New York University

2009
King Nigga,
by Ayanna Maia Saulsberry, NYU

(runner-up)
Refraction
by Ronald McCants, University of California, San Diego

2008
Flat Sam,
by Antoinette Nwandu, NYU

(runner-up)
South Bridge
by Reginald Edmund, Ohio University

2007
CLICK-BOOM,
Nakia Oglesby, University of Nevada-Las Vegas

2006 (co-winners)
One Fell Swoop, Isaac Charles Holter, DePaul University
The Last Black Play, Nathan Louis Jackson, Ebony Theatre Company of Kansas State Univeristy

2005
Hoodoo Love
by Katori Hall, Harvard University

2004
Revelations: The Outtakes by Christina Anderson, Brown University

2003
The Mancherios
by Nathan Louis Jackson, Kansas State University

2002

1st: Familiar, by Kirsten Greenidge, University of Iowa
2nd: Streethawker, by John Adekoje, Humboldt State University, California

2001
1st: Whiteout by Alan Newton, English Alternative Theatre of the University of Kansas
2nd: Feeding Beatrice by Kristen Greenidge, University of Iowa

2000
No Award this year

1999
1st: The Bow Wow Club by Levi "Lee" Simon, Jr., University of Iowa, Iowa City
2nd: A Noose for Bettyanne by Javon Johnson, Kuntu Repertory Theatre of the University of Pittsburgh

1998
Papa's Blues
by Javon Johnson, Kuntu Repertory Theatre of the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1997
1st: Miss Nowhere Diner, Kathleen F. Potts, University of Southern Maine, Gorham
2nd: A Preface to the Alien Garden, Robert Alexander, University of Iowa, Iowa City

1996
1st: Moments Above the Underground, Geryll Robinson, University of Southern Iliinois, Carbondale
2nd: An' Push da Wind Down, Lisa Harper, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

1995
1st: Make-up Stories, Eric C. Waldemar, Jr., University of Maryland, College Park
2nd: Sunshine Playlot, Dominic Taylor, Brown University, Providence, RI

1994
1st: Hedy Understands Anxiety, Angela Counts, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
2nd: The Miracle Church, Sybil Berry, University of Pittsburgh, PA, Kuntu Repertory Theatre

1993
Talking Bones, Shay Youngblood, Brown University, Providence, RI

1992
Strands, Eric Wilson, University of Missouri, Columbia

1991
Union Station, Marta Effinger, University of Pittsburgh, PA

1990
no winner selected this year

1989
1st: Home, Theresa Love, University of California, Davis
2nd: City Women, Danna Wilner, University of Portland, OR

1988
Peabody Duck, Leslie Wade, University of California, Santa Barbara

1987
1st: Inside/Out, Tom Coash, University of California, Davis
2nd: Caught in the Middle and No Way Out, Michael Holland, SUNY, Brockport, NY

1986
1st: The Peacemaker, Arnold Pinnix, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro
2nd: Mournin', Carolyn Cole, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

1985
no winner selected this year

1984
1st: Eleven Zulu, Patrick Sean Clark, University of Missouri, Columbia
2nd: Snooks McAllister Lives at My House, Robyn Claire Williams, Loyola University, Chicago, IL

1983
1st: The Bulldog and the Bear, Richard Gordon, California State University, Fullerton
2nd: The Silent Warrior, Charles Smith, University of Iowa, Iowa City

1982
1st: Asaga Kimashita, Velina Houston, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, CA
2nd: Enemies, Karen Boettcher, Portland State University, OR

1981
1st: Big Bucks and Three Piece Suits, 'Til Kingdom Come, Amen!, Joseph Mitchell, Eastern Washington University, Cheney
2nd: Second Doctor Lady/The Reconstruction of Dossie Hemphill, Endesha Holland, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

1980
1st: Silent Octaves, Brenda Faye Collie, University of Iowa, Iowa City
2nd: That's Life, Charley Vance, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
2nd: Nobody, An Evening with Bert Williams, Vincent D. Smith, University of Maryland, College Park

1979
1st: The American Chalk Circle, Richard Russell, San Jose State University, CA
1st: Throw Me Something, Mr. God, Daniel DuPlantis, Nichols State University, Thibodaux, Louisiana

1978
1st: The Ballad of Charley Sweet, Farrell Foreman, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb
2nd: 227, Christine Houston, Kennedy-King College, Chicago, IL

1977
1st: A Star Ain't Nothin' But a Hole in Heaven, Judi Ann Mason, Grambling College, Louisiana
2nd: Oh, Oh Freedom, Irwin Washington, U.C.L.A., Los Angeles, CA