Pulitzer Prize for Drama

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama is one of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded for Letters, Drama, and Music. It is one of the original Pulitzers, for the program was inaugurated in 1917 with seven prizes, four of which were awarded that year.[1] (No Drama prize was given, however, so that one was inaugurated in 1918, in a sense.)[2] It recognizes a theatrical work staged in the U.S. during the preceding calendar year.

Through 2006 the Drama Prize was unlike the majority of the other Pulitzer Prizes: during these years, the eligibility period for the drama prize ran from March 1 to March 2, to reflect the Broadway 'season' rather than the calendar year. The decision was made, however, that the 2007 Prize would consider works staged during an eligibility period of January 1 to December 31, 2006—thus bringing the schedule for the Drama Prize in line with those of the other prizes.

The drama jury, which consists of one academic and four critics, attends plays in New York and in regional theaters. The Pulitzer board has the authority to overrule the jury's choice, however, as happened in 1986 when the jury chose the CIVIL warS to receive the prize, but due to the board's opposition no award was given.

In 1955 Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. pressured the prize jury into presenting the Prize to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which the jury considered the weakest of the five shortlisted nominees ("amateurishly constructed... from the stylistic points of view annoyingly pretentious"), instead of Clifford Odets' The Flowering Peach (their preferred choice) or The Bad Seed, their second choice.[3] Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Drama by that award's committee. However, the committee's selection was overruled by the award's advisory board, the trustees of Columbia University, because of the play's then-controversial use of profanity and sexual themes. Had Albee been awarded, he would be tied with Eugene O'Neill for the most Pulitzer Prizes for Drama (four).

Awards and nominations

In its first 98 years to 2013, the Drama Pulitzer was awarded 82 times; none were given in 15 years and it was never split. Many of the prizes were won by multiple people for their collaboration, as many as five in 1976.[2]

* Star marks winners of the annual Tony Award for Best Play or Best Musical.

1910s

1920s

1930s

1940s

1950s

1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

2010s

Musicals

Nine musicals have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, roughly one per decade from the 1930s to the 2010s¹. They are: George and Ira Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing (1932), Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific (1950), Bock & Harnick's Fiorello! (1960), Frank Loesser's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1962), Marvin Hamlisch, Edward Kleban, James Kirkwood, Jr., and Nicholas Dante's A Chorus Line (1976), Stephen Sondheim's and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George (1985), Jonathan Larson's Rent (1996), Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt's Next to Normal (2010), and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton (2016).

Of Thee I Sing, Sunday in the Park with George, and Next to Normal are the only musicals that won the Pulitzer Prize and did not win the Tony Award for Best Musical. However, Of Thee I Sing opened when the Tony Awards did not exist, and Next to Normal won the Tony Award for Best Original Score and the Tony Award for Best Orchestrations.[5]

The award goes to the playwright, although production of the play is also taken into account. In the case of a musical being awarded the prize, the composer, lyricist and book writer are generally the recipients. An exception to this was the first Pulitzer ever awarded to a musical: when Of Thee I Sing won in 1932, book authors George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, as well as lyricist Ira Gershwin, were cited as the winners, while composer George Gershwin's contribution was overlooked by the committee. The reason given was that the Pulitzer Prize for Drama is a dramatic award, and not a musical one. However, by 1950 the Pulitzer committee included composer Richard Rodgers as a recipient when South Pacific won the award, in recognition of music as an integral and important part of the theatrical experience.[6]

Additionally, since 1983, when the identity of finalists was first disclosed, three musicals have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. They are: Lee Breuer and Bob Telson's The Gospel at Colonus (1985); Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes' In the Heights (2009); and Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron's Fun Home (2014).[2] The latter two shows, however, each won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

¹All listed dates are Prize years. Generally, the musical in question opened in New York during either the preceding calendar year or the preceding Broadway season.

Repeat winners

Eugene O'Neill won the Pulitzer for Drama four times, three in the 1920s. Several people have won two or three.

The most recipients of the prize in one Prize year was in 1976, when five people—Michael Bennett, James Kirkwood, Jr., Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch, and Edward Kleban—shared the prize for the musical A Chorus Line.[2]

Lynn Nottage is the only female playwright to win the prize twice. She and August Wilson are the only playwrights of color to accomplish this feat.

References

  1. ^ a b "1917 Winners". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-12-20.
  2. ^ a b c d "Drama". The Pulitzer Prizes (pulitzer.org). Retrieved 2013-12-20.
  3. ^ Fischer, Heinz-Dietrich & Erika J. Fischer. The Pulitzer Prize Archive: A History and Anthology of Award-Winning Materials in Journalism, Letters, and Arts München: K.G. Saur, 2008. ISBN 3-598-30170-7 ISBN 9783598301704 p. 246
  4. ^ The Pulitzer committee recommended Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? *, but the Pulitzer board, who have sole discretion in awarding the prize, rejected the recommendation, due to the play's perceived vulgarity, and no award was given instead.
      Klein, Alvin. "Albee's 'Tiny Alice,' The Whole Enchilada". The New York Times. May 24, 1998: CT11.
  5. ^ Next to Normal at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. ^ Flinn, Denny Martin. Musical! A Grand Tour. Schirmer, first edition (April 17, 1997), pages 230–31. ISBN 0-02-864610-X

External links

Beyond the Horizon (play)

Beyond the Horizon is a play written by American playwright Eugene O'Neill. Although he first copyrighted the text in June 1918, O'Neill continued to revise the play throughout the rehearsals for its 1920 premiere. His first full-length work to be staged, Beyond the Horizon won the 1920 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Cost of Living (play)

Cost of Living is a 2016 play by playwright Martyna Majok. It premiered in Williamstown, Massachusetts at the Williamstown Theatre Festival on June 29, 2016, and had an Off-Broadway engagement in 2017. The play won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as two Lucille Lortel Awards, including Outstanding Play.

Crimes of the Heart

Crimes of the Heart is a play by American playwright Beth Henley. It is set in Hazlehurst, Mississippi in the mid-20th century. The play won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. In 1986, the play was novelized and released as a book, written by Claudia Reilly.

Fiorello!

Fiorello! is a musical about New York City mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, a reform Republican who took on the Tammany Hall political machine. The book is by Jerome Weidman and George Abbott, drawn substantially from the 1955 volume Life with Fiorello by Ernest Cuneo, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock. It is one of only nine musicals to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Icebound (play)

Icebound is a 1923 play written by American playwright Owen Davis, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It is set in Veazie, Maine, a suburb of Bangor.

Jerry Bock

Jerrold Lewis "Jerry" Bock (November 23, 1928 – November 3, 2010) was an American musical theater composer. He received the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Sheldon Harnick for their 1959 musical Fiorello! and the Tony Award for Best Composer and Lyricist for the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof with Sheldon Harnick.

Joseph Kramm

Joseph A. Kramm (30 September 1907, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 8 May 1991) was an American playwright, actor, and director. He received Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1951 for his play The Shrike, later adapted into a motion picture of the same title in 1955.

Lost in Yonkers

Lost in Yonkers is a play by Neil Simon. The play won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Of Thee I Sing

Of Thee I Sing is a musical with a score by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and a book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. The musical lampoons American politics; the story concerns John P. Wintergreen, who runs for President of the United States on the "love" platform. When he falls in love with the sensible Mary Turner instead of Diana Devereaux, the beautiful pageant winner selected for him, he gets into political hot water.

The original Broadway production, directed by Kaufman, opened in 1931 and ran for 441 performances, gaining critical and box office success. It has been revived twice on Broadway and in concert stagings in the U.S. and in London. In 1932, Of Thee I Sing was the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Ruined (play)

Ruined is a play by Lynn Nottage. The play won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play involves the plight of women in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

That Championship Season

That Championship Season is a 1972 play by Jason Miller. It was the recipient of the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Diary of Anne Frank (play)

The Diary of Anne Frank is a stage adaptation of the book The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It premiered at the Cort Theatre in 1955.

The Heidi Chronicles

The Heidi Chronicles is a 1988 play by Wendy Wasserstein. The play won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Old Maid (play)

The Old Maid is a 1935 play adapted by American playwright Zoë Akins from Edith Wharton's 1924 novella of the same name, included in the collection Old New York. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It ran for 305 performances at the Empire Theatre in 1935.

The Irish dramatist Arthur Murphy also wrote a play of the same name, which was first produced in 1761.

The Time of Your Life

The Time of Your Life is a 1939 five-act play by American playwright William Saroyan. The play is the first drama to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The play opened on Broadway in 1939.

Topdog/Underdog

Topdog/Underdog is a play by American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks which premiered in 2001 off-Broadway in New York City. The next year it opened on Broadway, at the Ambassador Theatre, where it played for several months. In 2002, Parks received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Outer Critics Circle Award for the play; it received other awards for the director and cast.

Tracy Letts

Tracy S. Letts (born July 4, 1965) is an American actor, playwright and screenwriter. He received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play August: Osage County and a Tony Award for his portrayal of George in the revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2013).He is also known for his portrayal of Andrew Lockhart in seasons 3 and 4 of Showtime's Homeland, for which he has been nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards as a member of the ensemble. He currently portrays Nick on the HBO comedy Divorce. In 2017, Letts starred in three critically acclaimed films: The Lovers, Lady Bird and The Post. The latter two films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture; Lady Bird garnered Letts a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture nomination.

Letts wrote the screenplays of three films adapted from his own plays: Bug and Killer Joe, both directed by William Friedkin, and August: Osage County, directed by John Wells. His 2009 play Superior Donuts was adapted into a television series of the same name. 2019 will mark his first screenplay not to be adapted from his own work, with The Woman in the Window, based on the eponymous novel by A.J. Finn.

Water by the Spoonful

Water by the Spoonful is a play by Quiara Alegría Hudes. It won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Hudes had previously won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical for In the Heights.

Why Marry?

Why Marry? is a 1917 play written by American playwright Jesse Lynch Williams. It won the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama, in 1918.

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