Playwright Christopher Durang Wins PEN Literary Award

Playwright Christopher Durang
Christopher Durang

Christopher Durang, whose new play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike premieres tonight at McCarter Theatre, has received one of the highest honors in the field of letters, the Master American Dramatist Award from the PEN Literary Awards.

The PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards recognizes a master American dramatist whose literary achievements are “vividly apparent in the rich and striking language of their work.” The award was developed to reflect Laura Pels’ dedication to supporting excellence in American theater, as well as PEN’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding the literary accomplishments of playwrights. Past winners of  the award include Arthur Miller, Adrienne Kennedy, Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Maria Irene Fornes and David Henry Hwang.

Durang, an Obie Award winner and Tony nominee, is a prolific playwright whose works include Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, Beyond Therapy, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, and Betty’s Summer Vacation. The Bucks County resident’s most recent plays include Why Torture Is Wrong, the People Who Love Them, Miss Witherspoon, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

David Hyde Pierce and Sigourney Weaver star in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which is set in present day Bucks County, Pa. Vanya and his stepsister Sonia have lived their entire lives in their family’s farmhouse. While they stayed home to take care of their ailing parents, their sister Masha has been gallivanting around the world as a successful actress and movie star, leaving Vanya and Sonia to feel trapped and regretful. Their cleaning woman Cassandra keeps warning them about terrible things in the future, which include a sudden visit from Masha and her twenty-something boy toy Spike.

The play is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays award, and is being produced in association with the Lincoln Center Theater. Due to popular demand, the production at McCarter Theatre has been extended through October 14.

For more information about the performance schedule or to order tickets online, visit