Pulitzer Prize for Drama
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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. (No Drama prize was given, however, so that one was inaugurated 1918 in a sense). 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 2 to March 1, 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. 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 was 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.
- 2010: Next to Normal – Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey
- 2011: Clybourne Park * – Bruce Norris
- 2012: Water by the Spoonful – Quiara Alegría Hudes
- 2013: Disgraced – Ayad Akhtar
- 2014: The Flick – Annie Baker
Eight musicals have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama—-roughly one per decade from the 1930s to the 2000s. They are: George and Ira Gershwin's Of Thee I Sing (1932)¹, 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, Ed Kleban, James Kirkwood, 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), and Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt's Next to Normal (2010).
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.
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.
Additionally, two musicals have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. They are: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes' In the Heights (2009) and Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron's Fun Home (2014).
¹All dates are Prize years. Ordinarily the musical opened in New York during the preceding calendar year.
Eugene O'Neill won the Pulitzer for Drama four times, three in the 1920s. Several people have won two or three.
- Eugene O'Neill, 1920, 1922, 1928, and 1957
- George S. Kaufman, 1932 and 1937, both shared with collaborators
- Robert E. Sherwood, 1936, 1939, and 1941
- Thornton Wilder, 1938 and 1943
- Tennessee Williams, 1948 and 1955
- Edward Albee, 1967, 1975 and 1994
- August Wilson, 1987 and 1990
- "1917 Winners". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-12-20.
- "Drama". The Pulitzer Prizes (pulitzer.org). Retrieved 2013-12-20.
- 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
- 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.
- Tony Award for Best Original Score#2000s
- Tony Award for Best Orchestrations#2000s
- Flinn, Denny Martin. Musical! A Grand Tour. Schirmer, first edition (April 17, 1997), pages 230–31. ISBN 0-02-864610-X