Pulitzer Prize Winner Lindsay-Abaire at Work on Shrek Musical and Rabbit Hole Screenplay

News   Pulitzer Prize Winner Lindsay-Abaire at Work on Shrek Musical and Rabbit Hole Screenplay "I thought he was lying." That was David Lindsay-Abaire's immediate response when press representative Chris Boneau called to let him know the playwright had just won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his Tony Award-nominated play Rabbit Hole.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire

Lindsay-Abaire told Playbill.com that he was sitting at his desk trying to write a lyric for the forthcoming Broadway musical Shrek when he received Boneau's call. "I had already processed the loss of [the Pulitzer] months ago," he said. "I genuinely was really shocked."

Cynthia Nixon — who won a Tony Award for her work in Rabbit Hole, playing a grieving mother dealing with the accidental loss of her young son — was the first person to call the playwright with congratulations. "She was very sweet," Lindsay-Abaire said, adding, "My parents don't even know yet because I've been put on the phone with all you guys. I've just been talking to the press for the past 40 minutes or so."

Rabbit Hole, which received five Tony Award nominations including one for Best Play, was a departure for the playwright, who is better known for such quirky plays as Fuddy Meers and Kimberly Akimbo. About the genesis of his Pulitzer Prize-winning opus, he said, "I had been wanting to write a naturalistic play for a long time because I had never done it. . . . And, when I was a student at Juilliard, Marsha Norman had said to us, 'If you want to write a good play, write about the thing that frightens you most.' I was in my mid-twenties when she said that, and so I filed that away, not knowing what the hell she was talking about it.

"And then when I had a son," he continued, "and my son Nicholas was three years old, I heard a bunch of stories about children dying very unexpectedly, and I thought, 'Oh, that's what Marsha was talking about. There's the thing that frightens me most.' I understand fear in a profound way — in a way that I never had before. That really became the seed of the play."

Lindsay-Abaire said the first draft of Rabbit Hole was "one of the easiest plays I've ever written." He is now writing the screenplay for the film of that play, which has been optioned by Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman. Kidman will star in the film in the role created by Tony winner Nixon. "I'm about halfway through with the screenplay. I know I have to finish the draft by June 1. . . . [The play is also] being produced in a lot of regional theatres, which is very exciting," he said. Other projects for the playwright include the aforementioned Shrek — "I've never been more excited about a project. Jeanine Tesori is the composer [and is] the most generous, funny, kind collaborator I could ever have. It's been a joy" — and a new untitled play: "I have a new play that I'm just beginning in my head. I don't exactly know what it is yet."

About his new Pulitzer Prize-winning status, Lindsay-Abaire said, "I can barely speak. I am numb from the nose down." He later added with a laugh, "It's something to put on my grave."

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David Lindsay-Abaire's Rabbit Hole, which opened in February 2006 at Manhattan Theatre Club's Biltmore Theatre on Broadway, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, which was announced April 16. The Pulitzer jury had nominated three plays — Orpheus X by Rinde Eckert; Bulrusher by Eisa Davis; and Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes — however, the board decided to bypass the nominations and chose a play that hadn't been nominated by the jury.