Drama Desk Award
for Outstanding Play
Awarded forOutstanding Play
LocationUnited States
Presented byDrama Desk
Currently held byThe Inheritance (2020)

The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play is an annual award presented by Drama Desk in recognition of achievements in the theatre among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions. The award was initially introduced in 1955 as the Vernon Rice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre, before being removed from the ceremony between 1960 and 1974. The award later returned in the 1975 ceremony, with its current title.

Winners and nominees


Year Play Writer
Le Bal des Voleurs Jean Anouilh
The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night William Shakespeare
The Way of the World William Congreve
The White Devil John Webster
The Iceman Cometh Eugene O'Neill
1957–59 N/A


Year Play Writer
1960–69 N/A


Year Play Writer
1970–74 N/A
Equus Peter Shaffer
Same Time, Next Year Bernard Slade
Absurd Person Singular Alan Ayckbourn
All Over Town Murray Schisgal
Hosanna Michel Tremblay
In Praise of Love Terence Rattigan
Naomi Court Michael Sawyer
The National Health Peter Nichols
P.S. Your Cat Is Dead James Kirkwood, Jr.
The Ritz Terrence McNally
Seascape Edward Albee
Sizwe Banzi Is Dead / The Island Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona
Streamers David Rabe
Kennedy's Children Robert Patrick
Lamppost Reunion Louis Larusso
Medal of Honor Rag Tom Cole
Vanities Jack Heifner
A Texas Trilogy Preston Jones
Otherwise Engaged Simon Gray
American Buffalo David Mamet
Comedians Trevor Griffiths
Gemini Albert Innaurato
G. R. Point David Berry
No Man's Land Harold Pinter
The Shadow Box Michael Cristofer
The Transfiguration of Benno Blimpie Albert Innaurato
Da Hugh Leonard
Fifth of July Lanford Wilson
The Gin Game Donald L. Coburn
Landscape of the Body John Guare
The Merchant Arnold Wesker
The Water Engine David Mamet
The Elephant Man Bernard Pomerance
Nevis Mountain Dew Steve Carter
On Golden Pond Ernest Thompson
Talley's Folly Lanford Wilson
Wings Arthur Kopit


Year Play Writer
Children of a Lesser God Mark Medoff
Home Samm-Art Williams
The Irish Hebrew Lesson Wolf Mankowitz
Night and Day Tom Stoppard
Talley's Folly Lanford Wilson
Teibele and Her Demon Isaac Bashevis Singer and Eve Friedman
Amadeus Peter Shaffer
Crimes of the Heart Beth Henley
Fifth of July Lanford Wilson
Mass Appeal Bill C. Davis
"Master Harold"...and the Boys Athol Fugard
A Soldier's Play Charles Fuller
The Dance and the Railroad David Henry Hwang
The Dining Room A. R. Gurney
Family Devotions David Henry Hwang
Grown Ups Jules Feiffer
Torch Song Trilogy Harvey Fierstein
Brighton Beach Memoirs Neil Simon
Edmond David Mamet
Extremities William Mastrosimone
Geniuses Jonathan Reynolds
True West Sam Shepard
The Real Thing Tom Stoppard
And a Nightingale Sang C.P. Taylor
A Private View Václav Havel
Glengarry Glen Ross David Mamet
Isn't It Romantic Wendy Wasserstein
Noises Off Michael Frayn
As Is William M. Hoffman
Biloxi Blues Neil Simon
Digby Joseph Dougherty
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom August Wilson
A Lie of the Mind Sam Shepard
Aunt Dan and Lemon Wallace Shawn
Benefactors Michael Frayn
Execution of Justice Emily Mann
Marriage of Bette and Boo Christopher Durang
Precious Sons George Furth
Fences August Wilson
Broadway Bound Neil Simon
The Common Pursuit Simon Gray
Driving Miss Daisy Alfred Uhry
Les Liaisons Dangereuses Christopher Hampton
North Shore Fish Israel Horovitz
Wild Honey Michael Frayn
M. Butterfly David Henry Hwang
Boys' Life Howard Korder
Joe Turner's Come and Gone August Wilson
The Road to Mecca Athol Fugard
Speed-the-Plow David Mamet
Woman in Mind Alan Ayckbourn
The Heidi Chronicles Wendy Wasserstein
The Cocktail Hour A. R. Gurney
The Film Society Jon Robin Baitz
Only Kidding! Jim Geoghan
Reckless Craig Lucas
Shirley Valentine Willy Russell


Year Play Writer
The Piano Lesson August Wilson
The Lisbon Traviata Terrence McNally
Prelude to a Kiss Craig Lucas
The Secret Rapture David Hare
Some Americans Abroad Richard Nelson
Lost in Yonkers Neil Simon
La Bête David Hirson
Six Degrees of Separation John Guare
The Wash Philip Kan Gotanda
Marvin's Room Scott McPherson
A Small Family Business Alan Ayckbourn
Dancing at Lughnasa Brian Friel
Lips Together, Teeth Apart Terrence McNally
Mad Forest Caryl Churchill
Sight Unseen Donald Margulies
Angels in America: Millennium Approaches Tony Kushner
Jeffrey Paul Rudnick
Joined at the Head Catherine Butterfield
Oleanna David Mamet
The Sisters Rosensweig Wendy Wasserstein
Three Hotels Jon Robin Baitz
Angels in America: Perestroika Tony Kushner
All in the Timing David Ives
The Kentucky Cycle Robert Schenkkan
The Lights Howard Korder
Pterodactyls Nicky Silver
Three Tall Women Edward Albee
Love! Valour! Compassion! Terrence McNally
Arcadia Tom Stoppard
The Cryptogram David Mamet
Missing Persons Craig Lucas
Raised in Captivity Nicky Silver
subUrbia Eric Bogosian
Master Class Terrence McNally
The Model Apartment Donald Margulies
Molly Sweeney Brian Friel
Seven Guitars August Wilson
Sylvia A. R. Gurney
Valley Song Athol Fugard
How I Learned to Drive Paula Vogel
Dealer's Choice Patrick Marber
The Last Night of Ballyhoo Alfred Uhry
The Skriker Caryl Churchill
This is Our Youth Kenneth Lonergan
The Beauty Queen of Leenane Martin McDonagh
'Art' Yasmina Reza
As Bees In Honey Drown Douglas Carter Beane
Collected Stories Donald Margulies
Side Man Warren Leight
Three Days of Rain Richard Greenberg
Wit Margaret Edson
Betty's Summer Vacation Christopher Durang
Closer Patrick Marber
Not About Nightingales Tennessee Williams
The Ride Down Mt. Morgan Arthur Miller
Snakebit David Marshall Grant


Year Play Writer
Copenhagen Michael Frayn
Contact with the Enemy Frank D. Gilroy
Dinner with Friends Donald Margulies
Dirty Blonde Claudia Shear
Jitney August Wilson
The Tale of the Allergist's Wife Charles Busch
Proof David Auburn
Boy Gets Girl Rebecca Gilman
Comic Potential Alan Ayckbourn
The Invention of Love Tom Stoppard
Lobby Hero Kenneth Lonergan
The Unexpected Man Yasmina Reza
The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Edward Albee
Metamorphoses Mary Zimmerman
Franny's Way Richard Nelson
The Shape of Things Neil LaBute
Thief River Lee Blessing
Topdog/Underdog Suzan-Lori Parks
Take Me Out Richard Greenberg
Buicks Julian Sheppard
Our Lady of 121st Street Stephen Adly Guirgis
Peter and Vandy Jay DiPietro
Talking Heads Alan Bennett
Yellowman Dael Orlandersmith
I Am My Own Wife Doug Wright
The Beard of Avon Amy Freed
The Distance from Here Neil LaBute
Humble Boy Charlotte Jones
Moby-Dick Julian Rad
The Tricky Part Martin Moran
Doubt John Patrick Shanley
Democracy Michael Frayn
Pentecost David Edgar
The Pillowman Martin McDonagh
Sailor's Song John Patrick Shanley
Sin (A Cardinal Deposed) Michael Murphy
The History Boys Alan Bennett
Dedication or The Stuff of Dreams Terrence McNally
The Lieutenant of Inishmore Martin McDonagh
No Foreigners Beyond This Point Warren Leight
The Pavilion Craig Wright
Stuff Happens David Hare
The Coast of Utopia Tom Stoppard
The Accomplices Bernard Weinraub
Blackbird David Harrower
Frost/Nixon Peter Morgan
Radio Golf August Wilson
Some Men Terrence McNally
August: Osage County Tracy Letts
Dividing the Estate Horton Foote
From Up Here Liz Flahive
Horizon Rinde Eckert
Intimate Exchanges Alan Ayckbourn
Rock 'n' Roll Tom Stoppard
Ruined Lynn Nottage
Becky Shaw Gina Gionfriddo
Body Awareness Annie Baker
Fifty Words Michael Weller
Lady Craig Wright
reasons to be pretty Neil LaBute


Year Play Writer
Red John Logan
Circle Mirror Transformation Annie Baker
Clybourne Park Bruce Norris
Happy Now? Lucinda Coxon
My Wonderful Day Alan Ayckbourn
Next Fall Geoffrey Nauffts
War Horse Nick Stafford
A Bright New Boise Samuel D. Hunter
A Small Fire Adam Bock
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo Rajiv Joseph
Good People David Lindsay-Abaire
The Motherf**ker with the Hat Stephen Adly Guirgis
Other Desert Cities Jon Robin Baitz
Tribes Nina Raine
The Big Meal Dan LeFranc
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark Lynn Nottage
Chinglish David Henry Hwang
Completeness Itamar Moses
The Lyons Nicky Silver
Unnatural Acts Members of Plastic Theatre
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Christopher Durang
The Assembled Parties Richard Greenberg
Belleville Amy Herzog
Falling Deanna Jent
Finks Joe Gilford
The Flick Annie Baker
Sorry Richard Nelson
All the Way Robert Schenkkan
Core Values Steven Levenson
Domesticated Bruce Norris
The Explorers Club Nell Benjamin
The Night Alive Conor McPherson
Outside Mullingar John Patrick Shanley
Regular Singing Richard Nelson
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Simon Stephens
You Got Older Clare Barron
Airline Highway Lisa D'Amour
The City of Conversation Anthony Giardina
Between Riverside and Crazy Stephen Adly Guirgis
My Manãna Comes Elizabeth Irwin
Let the Right One In Jack Thorne
2016 The Humans Stephen Karam
The Christians Lucas Hnath
John Annie Baker
King Charles III Mike Bartlett
The Royale Marco Ramírez
Oslo J. T. Rogers
If I Forget Steven Levenson
Indecent Paula Vogel
A Life Adam Bock
Sweat Lynn Nottage
Admissions Joshua Harmon
Mary Jane Amy Herzog
Miles for Mary The Mad Ones
People, Places and Things Duncan Macmillan
School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play Jocelyn Bioh
The Ferryman Jez Butterworth
Fairview Jackie Sibblies Drury
Lewiston/Clarkson Samuel D. Hunter
Usual Girls Ming Peiffer
What the Constitution Means to Me Heidi Schreck


Year Play Writer
The Inheritance Matthew Lopez
Cambodian Rock Band Lauren Yee
Greater Clements Samuel D. Hunter
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven Stephen Adly Guirgis
Heroes of the Fourth Turning Will Arbery

See also