Kushner First to Win $200K Prize for Playwrights

Unusually large purse will allow him to spend less time in Hollywood
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2008 9:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – Tony Kushner will be the first recipient of a new biennial prize for playwriting, with a whopping $200,000 purse the benefactors hope will allow recipients to focus full-time on not-so-lucrative theater. Although Kushner is widely regarded as one of America's greatest dramatists, he has spent the past several years writing screenplays in Hollywood, the New York Times reports.

The Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award seeks to emphasize the importance of theater in American culture, not least through its giant cash prize—worth 20 times more than a Pulitzer. Kushner is the author of the two-part classic Angels in America, but he said that even someone with "a string of successful plays cannot make a living at it."