Lynn Nottage

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Lynn Nottage
Nottage lynn download 4.jpg
Nottage in 2007
Born 1964 (age 51–52)
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Occupation Playwright, professor lecturer
Alma mater Brown University
Yale University
Spouse Tony Gerber
Child(ren) Ruby Gerber and Melkamu Gerber
Magnum opus Ruined
Awards Pulitzer Prize
Obie Award

Lynn Nottage (born 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 Yale University.

Nottage was born in Brooklyn and is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, and a MacArthur Grant in 2007.[1] She won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009 for Ruined.

Early life[edit]

Born in Brooklyn on November 2, 1964 to a schoolteacher and a child psychologist, Nottage attended New York's High School of Music and Art. Inspired by school productions of Annie and The Wiz, she penned her first play, The Darker Side of Verona, which told the story of an African American Shakespearean company. She is the co-founder of the production company, Market Road Films, whose most recent projects include The Notorious Mr. Bout, directed by Tony Gerber. 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.[2] After attending Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, Nottage worked in Amnesty International's press office for four years.[3]


Her best-known play is Intimate Apparel, co-commissioned and produced at Baltimore's Center Stage (where it premiered in February 2003) and South Coast Repertory. It was highly acclaimed in its Off-Broadway production in 2004, starring Viola Davis. 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. The West Coast premiere of her Crumbs from the Table of Joy, at South Coast Repertory, earned two NAACP Theatre Awards for performance. She also received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a playwright in mid-career in 2004.

Nottage's play, Ruined, dramatizes the plight of Congolese women surviving civil war. It was first performed in 2007 in the Goodman Theater New Stages Series in Chicago, and transferred to an Off-Broadway production at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Ruined was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Nottage was a finalist for the 2009 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Ruined.[4]

Her other plays include the children’s musical, A Walk Through Time; Mud, River, Stone (Blackburn Prize finalist); Por’knockers; Poof! (Heideman Award); and Las Meninas.

Nottage reading at Occupy Wall Street, November 2011

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, Freedom Repertory Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Vineyard Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, The Goodman Theater, The Guthrie, and many others.

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.[5]

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.[6]

Her play By The Way, Meet Vera Stark premiered Off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre on May 9, 2011 with direction by Jo Bonney, and received rave reviews.[7] The play is a "funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood." [8] The play was nominated for the 2012 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Play. 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 star Off-Broadway.[9]

She received a commission from Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Arena Stage and the play that she wrote as a result, Sweat, was presented at the festival in Ashland, Oregon during July 29, 2015 to October 31, 2015 and directed by Kate Whoriskey.[10][11] The play takes place in Reading, Pennsylvania, and involves steel workers who have been locked out of their factory workplace.[12] The play is presented at the Arena Stage from January 15, 2016 to February 21, 2016, directed by Kate Whoriskey.[13] Nottage is a finalist for the 2015-16 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for this play. The award will be presented on February 22, 2016.[14][15][16] Sweat is a finalist for the 2016 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama.[17]



  1. ^ "MacArthur Fellows 2007, Information as of September 2007",, accessed May 13, 2009
  2. ^ Jim Lehrer (2009-06-15). NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (mpeg) (Television production). PBS. 
  3. ^ Michel Martin (2007-09-25). Tell Me More (mpeg) (Radio broadcast). NPR. 
  4. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Playwrights Nottage, Lowe, Healy, Meriwether Are Among Blackburn Prize Finalists", February 10, 2009
  5. ^ Peter, Thomas. "Lynn Nottage Awarded Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award Nov. 8; Davis, Rose Perform Her Work", November 8, 2010
  6. ^ Patrick Healy. "Women of ‘Ruined’ to Speak in Washington About Rape"The New York Times, May 12, 2009
  7. ^ Brantley, Ben (May 9, 2011). "A Black Actress Trying to Rise Above a Maid". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  8. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Nottage's 'By the Way, Meet Vera Stark' Gets Extra Week at Off-Broadway's Second Stage", April 27, 2011
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Vera Stark, Ready for Her L.A. Close-Up, Opens Sept. 26; Sanaa Lathan Stars", September 26, 2012
  10. ^ Weinerdt-Kent, Rob. "How Lynn Nottage, Inveterate Wanderer, Found Her Way to Reading and ‘Sweat’", July 10, 2015
  11. ^ Sweat, accessed August 25, 2015
  12. ^ Scott, Aaron. "Oregon Shakespeare Festival Sweats America's De-Industrialization With New Play", July 30, 2015
  13. ^ "Press Release. Sweat", December 2, 2015
  14. ^ "Press Release. Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalists", accessed January 26, 2016
  15. ^ Editors. "Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Announces 2015–16 Finalists" American Theatre, January 26, 2016
  16. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Finalists Announced", January 27, 2016
  17. ^ "Finalists Announced for 2016 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired By American History", January 27, 2016, accessed January 28, 2016
  18. ^ Manohla Dargis. "Just a Maid in Movies, but Not Forgotten", The New York Times, April 21, 2011

External links[edit]