Playwright Will Arbery Wins Prestigious Whiting Award

Mar 26, 2020

Credit Victor Llorante

Playwright Will Arbery is among ten winners of this years Whiting Award. The prestigious award is the largest literary award in the U.S and recognizes ten emerging writers each year. Arbery was the only playwright to win this year and finds the entire experience both surreal and uplifting.

"It's encouraging to feel like people are really engaging with the work and that it might have meaning in their lives," he said.

Last year, Will Arbery's play Heroes of the Fourth Turning made waves in the theater world. The show takes place during one night in Wyoming and features only young conservative Catholic intellectuals. The play does not promote or uphold conservative values, instead it allows them to be discussed openly- with no liberal characters present. Arbery says he wants the audience to decide the meaning for themselves.

While the Whiting Award recognizes his entire body of work, Arbery suspects that Heroes of the Fourth Turning really won him the award.

"I think that that play played a large part in the decision that definitely seems to be the work that they had engaged with most."

Each winner receives $50,000 in prize money. Past winners have included David Foster Wallace, Tobias Wolff, Madeleine George, and Jonathon Franzen. Click here to see the full list of winners for 2020.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Megan Feighery, at mfeigher@uwyo.edu.