Lynn Nottage

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Lynn Nottage
Lynn Nottage Square portrait Shankbone (cropped).JPG
Nottage in 2011
Born (1964-11-02) November 2, 1964 (age 53)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Occupation Playwright, professor lecturer
Alma mater Brown University
Yale School of Drama
Spouse Tony Gerber
Child(ren) 2
Magnum opus Ruined
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama (2009, 2017)
Obie Award

Lynn Nottage (born November 2, 1964) is an American playwright whose work often deals with the lives of women of African descent. She is an associate professor of theater at Columbia University and a lecturer in playwriting at the Yale School of Drama.

She won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009 for Ruined. She won the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2017 for Sweat. She became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice.[1][2]


Nottage was born in Brooklyn; her parents were a schoolteacher and a child psychologist. She is a graduate of High School of Music & Art and Saint Ann's School.[3] Inspired by school productions of Annie and The Wiz, she wrote her first play, The Darker Side of Verona, which told the story of an African American Shakespearean company. She attended Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. After graduation, Nottage worked in Amnesty International's press office for four years.[4]

Nottage is married to filmmaker Tony Gerber, with whom she has two children, Ruby Aiyo and Melkamu Gerber.


She is the co-founder of a production company, Market Road Films, whose most recent projects include The Notorious Mr. Bout, directed by Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin (Premiere/Sundance 2014); First to Fall, directed by Rachel Beth Anderson (Premiere/ IDFA, 2013); and Remote Control (Premiere/Busan 2013-New Currents Award). Over the years, she has developed original projects for HBO, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Showtime, This is That, and Harpo Productions.[5]

Nottage's plays have been produced Off-Broadway and regionally by The Acting Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alliance Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Capital Repertory Theatre, City Theatre, Crossroads Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Vineyard Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, and the Guthrie, among others.


One of her best-known plays is Intimate Apparel, co-commissioned and produced at Baltimore's Center Stage, where it premiered in February 2003[6] and South Coast Repertory.[7] The Off-Broadway production, opening in 2004, starred Viola Davis and was praised. The CurtainUp reviewer wrote: "What a lovely play to inaugurate the Roundabout Theater organization's handsome Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center... the plot, as already indicated, holds few unexpected twists. The rewards yielded from this play have less to do with surprises than seeing the six sterling actors transform Nottage's characters into flesh and blood people....Though Intimate Apparel ended up as an also ran in this year's Pulitzer Prize contest (the prize going to I Am My Own Wife), it has collected two distinguished awards, the Francesca Primus Prize of the American Theatre Critics Association and the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award. This well acted, tantalizingly beautiful New York premiere should win the prize that counts most: an enthusiastic audience."[8]

She wrote a companion piece to Intimate Apparel, the OBIE award-winning Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine, which is set 100 years later. Fabulation opened Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in June 2004.[9]

The West Coast premiere of her Crumbs from the Table of Joy, at South Coast Repertory in September 1996, [10] earned two NAACP Theatre Awards for performance.

Nottage's play, Ruined, dramatizes the plight of Congolese women surviving civil war. It premiered in 2007 in the Goodman Theater (Chicago) New Stages Series, [11] and transferred to Off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club in February 2009.[12] Ruined was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Nottage was a finalist for the 2009 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Ruined.[13] Her other plays include the children’s musical, A Walk Through Time;[citation needed] Mud, River, Stone [14](Blackburn Prize finalist); Por’knockers;[15] and Las Meninas.[16]

Her play Poof! (Heideman Award) was broadcast on PBS in 2002, with a cast that featured Rosie Perez and Viola Davis.[17][18] It was initially presented in 1993 at the Actors Theatre Of Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky) during the Humana Festival of New American Plays.[19][20]

Her play By the Way, Meet Vera Stark premiered Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre on May 9, 2011 with direction by Jo Bonney.[21] The play is a "funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood."[22] The play was nominated for the 2012 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Play.[23] The play ran at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in September 2012, starring Sanaa Lathan, who played the role of the maid who becomes a stage star.[24]

Nottage contributed to the "dance-theatre musical" written Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens titled In Your Arms which premiered at the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, in September 2015. The piece consists of ten vignettes and was directed and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli. Her vignette is titled A Wedding Dance and was performed by Marija Juliette Abney and Adesola Osakalumi with The Company.[25]


She received a commission from Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Arena Stage. The play that she wrote as a result, Sweat, was presented at the festival in Ashland, Oregon from July 29, 2015 to October 31, 2015, directed by Kate Whoriskey.[26][27] The play takes place in Reading, Pennsylvania, and involves steel workers who have been locked out of their factory workplace.[28] The play was produced at the Arena Stage (Washington, DC) from January 15, 2016 to February 21, 2016, directed by Whoriskey.[29] Nottage won the 2015-16 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for this play.[30][31][32][33] Sweat premiered Off-Broadway at the Public Theater on October 18, 2016 (previews), officially on November 3, again directed by Whoriskey. The play closed on December 18, 2016.[34][35][36] Sweat opened on Broadway at Studio 54 on March 4, 2017 in previews, officially on March 26, 2017. This marks the Broadway debut of a Nottage play.[37][38]

Sweat was a finalist for the 2016 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama.[39][40] Sweat was again a finalist for the 2017 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. The award is administered by Columbia University.[41][42] The play won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.


Nottage reading at Occupy Wall Street, November 2011

On May 13, 2009, Nottage spoke at a public reception in Washington, DC following a United States Senate Foreign Relations joint subcommittee hearing entitled "Confronting Rape and Other Forms of Violence Against Women in Conflict Zones," with case studies on the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.[43]


The Guardian noted: "Nottage’ has garnered praise for bringing challenging and often forgotten, stories onto the stage. ... Ruined explored the use of rape as a weapon against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Intimate Apparel focused on a lonely black seamstress working in New York in 1905....Future areas the 51-year-old is keen to explore in her plays includes the American prison industrial complex, which is “destroying the lives of so many men of colour” but is barely talked about in the national conversation or on the stage. Yet Nottage also expressed disappointment that her work was constantly defined by both her own race and gender, unlike her white male counterparts."[44]


Nottage has been awarded the 2017 Award of Merit Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, for "an outstanding playwright for her body of work".[45]

Nottage has been named a Residency One Playwright for the 2018–19 season by the Signature Theatre Company. The program "involves an intensive exploration of the writer’s body of work."[46]

She won the 2016 PEN/Laura Pels Award, Master American Dramatist.[47][48]

She has been awarded playwriting fellowships from Manhattan Theatre Club, New Dramatists, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is also the recipient of a Playwrights Horizons Amblin/Dreamworks commission and a National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group grant for a year-long residency at Freedom Repertory Theater in Philadelphia. Nottage is an alumnus of New Dramatists. In 2010, she was awarded the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, which includes a prize of $200,000.[49]

She received a MacArthur Grant in 2007.[50] In announcing the MacArthur Fellowship for 2007, the foundation said: "Lynn Nottage is an original voice in American theater..."[50]

She received the Guggenheim Grant, Drama and Performance Art, in 2005.[51] She received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a playwright in mid-career in 2004 and received a $5,000 stipend.[52]

She was a finalist for the 2001 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Mud, River, Stone.[53]



  1. ^ 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winners and Nominees, The Pulitzer Prizes, 2017, retrieved 10 April 2017 
  2. ^ Ben Hewis (2017). "Lynn Nottage becomes first woman to win Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice". Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  3. ^ Kilian, Michael. "Playwright tells intimate tales: Lynn Nottage wrote 2 works simultaneously," Chicago Tribune, June 17, 2004
  4. ^ Michel Martin (2007-09-25). Tell Me More (mpeg) (Radio broadcast). NPR. 
  5. ^ Jim Lehrer (2009-06-15). NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (mpeg) (Television production). PBS. 
  6. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Baltimore's Center Stage Presents New Lynn Nottage Play, 'Intimate Apparel', Feb. 26", February 8, 2003
  7. ^ Intimate Apparel, Retrieved November 17, 2017
  8. ^ Hitchcock, Laura. "Review. 'Intimate Apparel'",Curtain Up, August 4, 2004, retrieved November 18, 2017
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Lynn Nottage's 'Fabulation' Gets World Premiere at Playwrights Horizons, Opening June 13" Playbill, June 13, 2004
  10. ^ Nottage, Lynn. "Introduction" Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Dramatists Play Service Inc, 1998, ISBN 0822215721, p. 3
  11. ^ "'Ruined' Goodman Theatre", Retrieved November 17, 2017
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Pulitzer Winner 'Ruined' Gets Six Extra Weeks at MTC",, April 30, 2009
  13. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Playwrights Nottage, Lowe, Healy, Meriwether Are Among Blackburn Prize Finalists", February 10, 2009.
  14. ^ a b Daniels, Robert L. "Review. 'Mud, River, Stone' " Variety, December 21, 1997
  15. ^ a b Por'Knockers, accessed November 6, 2016
  16. ^ a b Ehren, Christine. "Forbidden Love Reigns in San Jose With Nottage's 'Las Meninas' March 16-April 14 Playbill, March 14, 2002
  17. ^ "'Poof!' Overview and Cast", accessed February 24, 2016
  18. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Nottage's "Poof!" to Be Part of PBS' American Shorts Series", July 29, 2001
  19. ^ "Lynn Nottage at Doollee", accessed February 24, 2016
  20. ^ Nottage, Lynn. Poof!, "'Crumbs from the Table of Joy' and Other Plays", Theatre Communications Group, 2003, ISBN 1559367075, p.89
  21. ^ Brantley, Ben (May 9, 2011). "A Black Actress Trying to Rise Above a Maid". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  22. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Nottage's 'By the Way, Meet Vera Stark' Gets Extra Week at Off-Broadway's Second Stage", April 27, 2011
  23. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Drama Desk Nominations Announced; 'Death Takes a Holiday' and 'Follies' Lead the Pack", April 27, 2012
  24. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Vera Stark, Ready for Her L.A. Close-Up, Opens Sept. 26; Sanaa Lathan Stars", September 26, 2012
  25. ^ Viagas, Robert. "The Verdict: Critics Review 'In Your Arms', With Donna McKechnie, at Old Globe " Playbill, September 28, 2015
  26. ^ Weinerdt-Kent, Rob. "How Lynn Nottage, Inveterate Wanderer, Found Her Way to Reading and ‘Sweat’", July 10, 2015
  27. ^ Sweat, accessed August 25, 2015
  28. ^ Scott, Aaron. "Oregon Shakespeare Festival Sweats America's De-Industrialization With New Play", July 30, 2015
  29. ^ "Press Release. Sweat" Archived 2016-02-01 at the Wayback Machine., December 2, 2015
  30. ^ Gordon, David. "Lynn Nottage Receives 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize", February 22, 2016
  31. ^ Editors. "Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Announces 2015–16 Finalists" American Theatre, January 26, 2016
  32. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalists Announced", January 27, 2016
  33. ^ "Sweat" by Lynn Nottage Wins 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize", accessed February 22, 2016
  34. ^ Clement, Olivia. "David Byrne, Harvey Fierstein, Nia Vardalos and Lynn Nottage Tapped For Public Season" Playbill, May 19, 2016.
  35. ^ Rickwald, Bethany. "Miriam Shor, John Earl Jelks, and More Cast in Lynn Nottage's 'Sweat'", September 13, 2016
  36. ^ Clement, Olivia, "Lynn Nottage’s 'Sweat' Opens at The Public Tonight" Playbill, November 3, 2016
  37. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Lynn Nottage to Make Broadway Debut with Transfer of 'Sweat'" Playbill, December 5, 2016
  38. ^ Clement, Olivia. " 'Sweat' Begins on Broadway" Playbill, March 4, 2017
  39. ^ "Finalists Announced for 2016 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired By American History", January 27, 2016, accessed January 28, 2016
  40. ^ Viagas, Robert. "Kennedy Prize for Drama Goes to 'Hamilton'", February 22, 2016
  41. ^ " 'Sweat', 'Indecent' and 'Vietgone' Among Finalists for 2017 Edward M. Kennedy Prize", January 13, 2017
  42. ^ "Winner of the 2017 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History Announced", February 27, 2017.
  43. ^ Patrick Healy. "Women of ‘Ruined’ to Speak in Washington About Rape"The New York Times, May 12, 2009
  44. ^ Ellis-Petersen, Hannah. "Playwright Lynn Nottage: theatre is the last bastion of segregation" The Guardian, February 22, 2016
  45. ^ Gans, Andrew. " 'Sweat' Playwright Lynn Nottage Honored by American Academy of Arts and Letters" Playbill, April 6, 2017
  46. ^ Clements, Olivia."Signature Welcomes Four New Resident Playwrights" Playbill, January 26, 2017
  47. ^ Maggie Galehouse (March 1, 2016). "PEN Literary Award winners announced". Chron. Retrieved March 2, 2016. 
  48. ^ "2016 PEN Literary Award Winners". PEN. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2016. 
  49. ^ Peter, Thomas. "Lynn Nottage Awarded Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award Nov. 8; Davis, Rose Perform Her Work", November 8, 2010
  50. ^ a b "Lynn Nottage", accessed 7 June 2016
  51. ^ "Lynn Nottage", accessed June 7, 2016
  52. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence. "Arts Briefing" The New York tImes, May 3, 2004
  53. ^ "Blackburn Prize Honors Two Women" Backstage, February 21, 2001
  54. ^ Poof, accessed November 6, 2016
  55. ^ Manohla Dargis. "Just a Maid in Movies, but Not Forgotten", The New York Times, April 21, 2011
  56. ^ Perry, Jennifer. "BWW Reviews: Arena Stage's 'Our War' - Nothing if Not Ambitious", October 27, 2014

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