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The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

The Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award

Supported by VSA, the International Organization on Arts and Disability, and Kennedy Center Access. The Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award, named after the founder of VSA, is offered for the outstanding student-written script that explores the human experience of living with a disability (please consult the Americans With Disabilities Act for the full definition of Disability).

  • The award recipient will receive a cash award of $1,000.
  • The Dramatists Guild Award provides the playwright with Active membership in the Guild.
  • The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival will provide the award recipient with an all-expenses paid professional development opportunity.

VSA is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1974 by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith. VSA is creating a society where people with disabilities can learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. Nearly 5 million people with disabilities participate in VSA programs every year through a network of affiliates in 42 states and 51 countries worldwide.

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 must comply with the guidelines for scripts entered in the KCACTF Michael Kanin Playwriting Program.

For other questions, refer to the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rules and Procedures for the Michael Kanin Playwriting Awards Program above.

Previous Award Recipients

2016
Four Chambers by Lisa Kenner Grissom, Lesley University
Ropes in the Well by Martyna Majok, The Julliard School
2015
Second Skin by Kristin Isaszak, University of California-San Diego
2nd Place - In The Hour Before the Bars Open by Nate Harpél, Savannah College of Art and Design
2014
Harry and the Hippocampus by Brian J. Polak, University of Southern California
Runner-up - Brick Wall by Vic Shuttee, University of Houston
2013
Colossal by Andrew Hinderaker, University of Texas at Austin
Runner-up - Joyless Eye by JC Pankratz, DePauw University
2012
The Man in the Sukkah by Deborah Yarchun, University of Iowa
Absense by Peter Floyd, Playwright's Theatre of Boston University
2011
IN A WORD by Lauren Yee, University of California-San Diego
2010
Have a Heart by Lisa Beth Allen, University of New Orleans
2009
Past Perfect, Future Tense by John-Paul Nickel, Carnegie-Mellon University
2008
Sick by Zayd Dohrn, New York University
2007
Samaritan, Mary Unser, Carnegie Mellon University
2nd Place - The Lazarus Syndrome, Bruce Ward, Boston University
2006
Arts and Science, David Roby, Illinois State University
The Family Frost, Terry Davis, University of New Mexico
2005
Get Off by Paul McCabe, Ithaca College
2004
Quid Pro Quo by Garrett Zuercher, Marquette University
2002
The Nature of the Nautilus by Ian Finley, University of Utah
2001
And David Danced by Jonathan Pope Evans, William Carey College
2000
A Simple Autumn, Kevin Schneipp, Viterbo College, La Crosse, Wisconsin
1999
The Great Frozen Man, Jeannine Saunders, Wichita State University, Kansas
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