The Playgoer: Pulitzer to Clybourne Park

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Pulitzer to Clybourne Park

Good news!  The Pulitzer Board this year decided that: a) an award in drama would be appropriate, and b) that one of their selected jury's recommendations was worth taking! (If you recall, the latter was not the case last year...)

The winner is Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. Runners up were Lisa D'Amour's Detroit and John Guare's A Free Man of Color.

Having not seen or read Clybourne Park, I can't comment on how deserving it is of the award. What I can say objectively, as an analyst, is that this is another big win for Chicago theatre (after August: Osage County's recent win, as well as last year's Ruined, which premiered at the Goodman) and an award that will put playwright Bruce Norris on the map in a bigger way, perhaps beyond what have been his two home bases, Steppenwolf and Playwrights Horizons.

I'll also back off from saying more given I know too members of the jury very well: LA Weekly critic (and sometime Playgoer guest-blogger) Steven Leigh Morris and CUNY Professor David Savran.

And given that Dr. Savran happens to be sitting on my dissertation committee I think it would be not only unethical but downright stupid not to recuse myself, don't you?

Full jury was:

Peter Marks, drama critic, The Washington Post (Chair)
Chris Jones, drama critic, Chicago Tribune
David Savran, distinguished professor of theater, CUNY Graduate Center
Lynn Nottage, playwright, New York City
Steven Leigh Morris, critic-at-large, LA Weekly
AnywayI may have little to say about this but I'm sure some of you have lots! Tell us what you think of the selections. Any overlooked titles you would have championed?  Remember that eligibility entailed a major US professional production during the 2010 calendar year.


Mike Mariano said...

I saw Clybourne Park at Playwrights Horizons last year. It was well done and its themes of white flight and gentrification definitely at least get it into the Pulitzer ballpark.

But while the subject matter was good, some of the stage business got awkward. The present day second act wasn't entirely satisfying, nor was it well-connected to the first act. The explosions set off by racist remarks were much hammier in the present than they were in the past.

Looking through my calendar for 2010, the only major-league play I enjoyed more was Equivocation at MTC, which was kind of a Shakespeare in Love meets The Pillowman fun, pulpy romp. But though playwright Bill Cain is American, Equivocation doesn't come close to the Pulitzer requirement of "dealing with American life".

Unknown said...

Saw the recent production at SF's A.C.T. and when I heard the Pulitzer news, my first thought was 'oh, great!' I think the first act is fantastic, and the second act really speaks about where we are right now. My big beef w/the ACT production was that the generally white liberal self-congratulatory audience completely missed that they were the ones being skewered by act two - the biggest moment of applause was when the white guy says he's offended by seeing 'we support our troops' and yellow ribbons on the back of SUVs. More urban people of all stripes need to read and see and talk about this play with each other, hoping the Pulitzer will make that happen