The Playgoer: Pulitzer reverb

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Pulitzer reverb

"In the early years of the Pulitzers, the drama award was bedeviled by the requirement of 'uplift,' which meant that much of American theater's genius for social criticism and tragedy was beyond the pale. The New York Drama Critics Circle Award was founded in 1936 specifically to redress this balance. The uproar that greeted the Pulitzer Board's refusal to honor the 1963 jury's recommendation of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' finally led to the removal of that moral test.
"But its influence has lingered. The 2006 board defends itself by saying this year's action is not unusual, noting that the drama award has been omitted 15 times since it was begun in 1918. But surely this disproportionate percentage of the 58 omissions in all categories just proves how historically uncomfortable the Pulitzer board has been with the unsettling nature of theater."

-Christopher Rawson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on what the Pulitzers got wrong this year. Interesting point about that "uplift" factor.

Theatre critics continue to weigh in nationwide. Reminds us that it is the Pulitzer, not the Tony, that is the theatre's (or at least the dramatic play's) highest profile national calling card. Rawson makes a case for even the three runners-up being better than no award at all. Especially given the awarding of even less deserving plays in the past.

Another interesting take from Dominic Papatola in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

(My delayed reaction in linking to these folks, by the way, not theirs in writing.)

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