Kira Vine, Phanésia Pharel, Andrea Patterson, Levonia Charles, and Delicia Turner Sonnenberg

Phanésia Pharel Receives Kennedy Center Playwriting Award

Thrown Stone is pleased to announce that Phanésia Pharel, the recipient of our 2022 Playwriting Fellowship, has been honored with The Kennedy Center’s esteemed 2024 Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award for her exceptional play, Waterfall. Workshopped at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in partnership with Thrown Stone, Waterfall has garnered widespread acclaim for its poignant portrayal of the complexities of immigrant experiences and family relationships.

Conceived during her fellowship with Thrown Stone in 2022, Waterfall delves into the intricate mother-daughter bond within the Haitian-American community, inviting audiences to explore themes of love, identity, and the pursuit of the American dream. Pharel’s evocative storytelling and nuanced characterizations offer profound insights into the human experience, resonating deeply with audiences of all backgrounds.

The workshop reading of Waterfall at The Old Globe Theatre was facilitated by Danielle Mages Amato, Director of New Plays and Dramaturgy, and Sonia Desai, Literary Associate, who helped Pharel develop the piece from a one-act to a full-length play. Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg and performed by Andrea Patterson and Leovina Charles, the workshop brought Pharel’s exploration of the intricate mother-daughter bond to life. The Kennedy Center’s Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award is a testament to the relevance and impact of her work.

“We are proud to celebrate Phanésia’s achievement and her outstanding contribution to the American Theatre,” said Thrown Stone Co-Artistic Director, Jonathan Winn. “It is so gratifying to see her work recognized in this way. The world is discovering what we have known for the past several years: Phanésia Pharel is an essential voice for this new theatrical landscape.”

The Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, named after the trailblazing playwright Lorraine Hansberry, recognizes outstanding plays that best express the African American experience. Pharel joins the esteemed ranks of past recipients, including acclaimed playwrights Jeremy O. Harris and Katori Hall.

Phanésia Pharel’s impact extends beyond Waterfall, with her body of work reflecting a commitment to elevating diverse voices and narratives on stage. As a member of the Obie award-winning EST/Youngblood writers group and the recipient of numerous honors and commissions, Pharel continues to make a significant contribution to the cultural landscape.


The Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award holds significant prestige within the theatrical community. Named after the groundbreaking playwright Lorraine Hansberry, who made history as the first African-American playwright, and the youngest playwright of any color, to win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for her seminal work A Raisin in the Sun in 1959, the award honors plays that authentically depict the African American experience.

The award recognizes outstanding plays written by students of African or Diasporan descent that capture the complexities, nuances, and richness of African American life and culture. To be eligible, the play must express the African American experience in a compelling and authentic manner, providing insight into the diverse perspectives and voices within the community.

Previous recipients of the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award include esteemed playwrights such as Jeremy O. Harris, Katori Hall, and Jeff Augustin, whose works have made significant contributions to the theatrical landscape and have resonated with audiences worldwide.

The award not only celebrates the achievements of emerging playwrights but also serves as a platform to amplify underrepresented voices and narratives in the theatrical canon. Through its recognition of excellence in playwriting, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award continues to uphold the legacy of Lorraine Hansberry and her commitment to telling stories that reflect the breadth and depth of the African American experience.

Pictured above: Kira Vine, Phanésia Pharel, Andrea Patterson, Levonia Charles, and Delicia Turner Sonnenberg in a workshop of Waterfall, Facilitated by Danielle Mages Amato, Director of New Plays and Dramaturgy, and Sonia Desai, Literary Associate, The Old Globe.

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