Young Jean Lee has been awarded the 2019 Windham-Campbell Prize in Drama

YOUNG JEAN LEE, associate professor of theater and performance studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences, has been awarded the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prize in the category of drama.

Young Jean Lee
Young Jean Lee’s work as a playwright and theater-maker is praised for its originality, diversity in form and subject and commitment to confronting political and social complexities. (Holly Hernandez)

Administered by Yale University, the Windham-Campbell Prizes are awarded to eight international writers in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. Winners will receive a $165,000 prize to support their writing careers. Established in 2013, writer Donald Windham and stage actor Sandy Campbell designed the prize “to call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.”

The selection committee described Lee as “a genuinely original playwright and theater-maker who explores diverse theatrical styles, forms and subjects with a dramaturgy that constantly takes risks and pushes the boundaries of what is possible.”

“When I found out that I’d been selected to receive the Windham-Campbell Prize, I couldn’t stop crying,” Lee said. “It was so moving to me to imagine someone out there taking the time to write me a nomination letter, and all of the anonymous people who looked at my work and decided that I should get such a gigantic amount of support.”

Lee, who joined the Theater and Performance Studies faculty in January, is a Korean-American playwright, director and filmmaker who has been called “the most adventurous downtown playwright of her generation” by the New York Times and “one of the best experimental playwrights in America” by Time Out New York. In 2018, she became the first Asian-American playwright to see her work (Straight White Men) produced on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theater. With her appointment at Stanford, students have the opportunity to work with Lee in workshop-style courses on playwriting and collaborative theater-making.