Awards and Honors

Recognition & Accolades in A Lifetime of Achievement

María Irene Fornés with, from left, her fellow playwrights Arthur Miller, John Guare, Edward Albee and Horton Foote before a round-table discussion at the Signature Theater in 2000. Photo:Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

1961-1962 John Hay Whitney Foundation Fellowship

Through the John Hay Whitney Foundation, a program of John Hay Whitney Opportunity Fellowships was established. These were annual awards to ”American citizens of exceptional promise who, because of arbitrary barriers such as race, cultural background or region of residence, have not had the fullest opportunity to develop their abilities.”


For more information on the John Hay Whitney Foundation, click here.


For more information on the John Hay Whitney Opportunity Fellowships, click here.


1962-1963 Centro Mexicano de Escritores Residency

For more information on the Centro Mexicano de Escritores, click here.


Obie Awards

The Obie Awards honor the highest calibre of off-Broadway and off-off Broadway theatre to recognize brave work, champion new material, and advance careers in theatre.


  • 1965 Obie Award for Distinguished Plays: Promenade and The Successful Life of 3

  • 1966 Obie Committee Member

  • 1977 Obie Award for Playwriting: Fefu and Her Friends

  • 1979 Obie Award for Directing: Eyes on the Harem

  • 1982 Obie Award for Sustained Achievement

  • 1983 Obie Committee Member

  • 1984 Obie Award for Directing: The Danube, Sarita, and Mud

  • 1984 Obie Award for Playwriting: The Danube, Sarita, and Mud

  • 1985 Obie Award for Best New American Play: The Conduct of Life

  • 1988 Obie Award for Best New American Play: Abingdon Square

  • 2000 Obie Award for Special Citations: Letters From Cuba

  • 2004 Obie Award for Special Citations: Soho Rep’s Production of Molly’s Dream, directed by Daniel Aukin


1967 CINTAS Foundation Fellowship

The CINTAS Foundation awards fellowships annually to creative artists of Cuban citizenship or Cuban lineage.


For more information on the 1967-1968 CINTAS Foundation Fellowship recipients, click here.


1967 Yale University Fellowship

1968 Yale University Fellowship

1968 Boston University Tanglewood Fellowship

1971 Rockefeller Foundation Grant

The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission—unchanged since 1913—is to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world.


For more information on Rockefeller Foundation Grants, click here.


1972 Guggenheim Fellowship (Category: Creative Arts, Field of Study: Drama and Performance Art)

Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.


1972 & 1975 Creative Artist Public Service Grant

CAPS is – Creative Artists Public Service, an arts service organization which encourages creative work by New York State’s artists through its annual Fellowship Program; stimulates public participation in the arts and aids other arts and educational groups through the Community Service Program; seeks to make the work of funded artists accessible to the public through the post-grant-year Exposure Program; and fosters art in public spaces through its Visual Arts Referral Service.


National Endowment for the Arts Grants

The National Endowment for the Arts awards grants to nonprofit organizations, creative writers and translators, state arts agencies, and regional arts organizations in support of arts projects across the country.


1974 Fellowships for Creative Writers

1990 New American Works, “To support the creation and development of an opera by composer Roberto Sierra and playwright María Irene Fornes.”

1990 Support to Individuals: Distinguished Theater Artist Fellowships

For more information on National Endowment for the Arts Grants, click here.


For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts Grants for 1974, click here.


For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts Grants for 1990, click here.


1985 American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Literature

In 1941 the Academy established awards to encourage creative work in the arts. Now $10,000 each, Arts and Letters Awards (formerly Academy Awards) are given annually: five to artists, eight to writers, four to composers, and four to architects. Composers receive an additional $10,000 toward the recording of a work.


1986 Playwrights U.S.A. Award for translation of Cold Air

Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalist

The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize is the oldest and largest playwriting prize honoring women+ writing for the English-speaking theatre.


1985-86 Finalist for The Conduct of Life

1987-88 Finalist for Abingdon Square


1990 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Drama for And What of the Night?

The Pulitzer Prize administration awards prizes across 22 categories in journalism and the arts each year.


For more information on the 1990 Pulitzer Prize Finalists and Winners, click here.


1990 New York State Governor’s Arts Award

The Governor’s Arts Awards were created to bring attention to the significance and excellence of art created in New York.


For more information on the 1990 New York State Governor’s Arts Award recipients, click here.


1996 – 1998 Pew/Theatre Communications Group Trust Grant

2001 Robert Chesley Award for Lifetime Achievement

The Robert Chesley Awards for Lesbian and Gay Playwriting honor the memory of playwright Robert Chesley (1943–1990), the author of Night Sweats, which in 1984 became the first produced full-length play to deal with the AIDS crisis.


2002 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a Master American Dramatist

Each year, the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award confers upon an American playwright in mid-career, with an outstanding voice working indisputably at the highest level of achievement, a $10,000 cash prize. The award was developed to reflect Laura Pels’s dedication to supporting excellence in American theater, as well as PEN America’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding the playwright’s literary accomplishments.


2003 First Recipient of the Mujeres (Women) Advancing Culture, History, and Art (MACHA) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mentoring Latina Writers


2005 Theatre Communications Group (TCG) Theater Practitioner Award

The Theatre Practitioner Award recognizes an individual – artist or administrator, institutionally affiliated or unaffiliated – whose work in the American theatre has evidenced exemplary achievement over time and who has contributed significantly to the development of the larger field.


2015, Irene won the Graduate Center's Ph.D. Program in Theatre annual Booth Award.


2019 Lucille Lortel Awards: Playwrights’ Sidewalk Inductee

New York’s only permanent monument to the great playwrights whose work has been performed at the Lucille Lortel Theatre and other Off-Broadway Theatres


For a video of the 2019 Lucille Lortel Awards: Playwrights’ Sidewalk Inductee presentation, click here.