Monday, April 12, 2010

Pulitzer Checklist

So the Pulitzer Prize in Drama goes to...Next to Normal, a musical that Wikipedia says is about "a mother who struggles with worsening bipolar disorder and the effect that her illness has on her family. The musical also addresses such issues as grieving a loss, suicide, drug abuse, ethics in modern psychiatry, and suburban life."


  • Subject matter: middle class suburban life -- check.
  • Playwrights
    • Brian Yorkey 
      • graduate of Columbia University -- check; 
      • provided with conservatory training as a child at KidStage -- check

    • Tom Kitt 
      • graduate of Columbia University -- check; 
      • provided with conservatory training as a child at Interlochen Summer Music Program for high school students -- check
But no, there is no such thing as a narrow track for privileged young artists whose parents can afford to send them to get training when they are young. Nah! It's all about talent and desire and believing in yourself. And it has nothing to do with diversity, as you can clearly see, since the subject of the play is about...well...middle-class suburbanites, but they're bi-polar suburbanites dealing with problems...

Right. Now I see.

Update: The Pulitzer Committee overruled the Drama Panel's recommendation. No, let me make that clearer: the Pulitzer Committee "at Columbia University's journalism school, where the prizes are administrated"... You know, Columbia University where Kitt and Yorkey got their degree... Do I smell Denmark?

Update #2: I just about dropped my teeth reading Charles McNulty's condemnation of the Pulitzer committee's overruling of the Drama Panel, when he said:
"I can't help being ticked off. Two points, in particular, rankle: the blinkered New York mentality and the failure to appreciate new directions in playwriting. The board had an opportunity to correct these long-standing shortcomings, and it blew it. In an era in which important new dramatic works rarely get their start in New York, the board's geographical myopia, a vision of the American theater that starts in Times Square and ends just a short taxi ride away is especially disheartening."
I'm giving McNulty an Honorary Membership in CRADLE.


Seth Christenfeld said...

Of course, the other three plays that were nominated were produced in--quite literally--New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and those are the "new directions" that McNulty is referring to.

How do you feel about him now?

Scott Walters said...

Well, sure. I mean, I know he's not promoting non-metropolitan theatre, but I liked the way he identified the primary problem, even if he doesn't recognize the larger solution!

Tom Loughlin said...

Not to be outdone, Ben Brantley has his say as well - Money quote: "For the most part Pulitzer plays are “worthy” only in the damning sense of the word, of being virtuous and well behaved. Would it be better if they consistently awarded truly courageous and innovative work? Sure. But experience has taught me not to expect that."

Jess said...

Do you think, when CU pimps their playwriting degree program to prospective students, they include as part of their promotional materials the fact that the student will have an inside track to a Pulitzer?

that's hard to beat, kiddos!

Seth Christenfeld said...

Not likely. The conspiracy theory is ridiculous, considering that, as far as I can tell, there hasn't been a winner with a degree from Columbia since Tony Kushner in 1993 (whose BA is in Medieval Studies).

Liz Maestri said...

Ha! This is great, Scott. Money talks, doesn't it? Even in theater.