Dominique Morisseau’s play Detroit ’67 has won the 2014 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. The play is the first part of a trilogy based on Morisseau’s home city of Detroit, and examines the effects of the city’s 1967 riots.
The award includes a $100,000 cash prize as well as career assistance from Columbia University Libraries, and inclusion in a new teaching website that will put the work in historical context, and offer study guides and scholarly discussion.
It is the second consecutive play published by Oberon Books to win the award, emulating the achievement of Dan O’Brien’s documentary drama The Body of An American (2013). O’Brien’s play explored the impact of Paul Watson’s infamous image of a dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in 1993.
Awarding the prize, Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith of Columbia University said: “We are thrilled to award this year’s prize to Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit ’67, an exceptional work that exemplifies the mission of the prize in its exploration of the rich history of our country through the power of theater.”
Detroit ‘67 received its world premiere at The Public Theater in New York, on March 12, 2013 and was presented in association with the Classical Theater of Harlem and the National Black Theatre. Prior to that, it was developed with the assistance of The Public Theater as well as The Lark Play Development Center, New York City.
The Gate Theatre in London has been instrumental in bringing these playwrights to British audiences, staging Morisseau’s UK debut Sunset Baby (2012), as well as The Body of An American in January this year.