McCraney Wins First New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award

By Andrew Gans
May 15, 2009

The first New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, a prize to "honor an American playwright with a recent professional theater debut in New York City," will be awarded to Tarell Alvin McCraney for his play The Brothers Size.

Sylviane Gold, chair of the award selection committee, said in a statement, "The committee was impressed by the sheer poetry of the language and the play's vibrant blend of richly specific contemporary characters with archetypes drawn from West African myth."

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher, The New York Times and chairman, The New York Times Company, added, "It is a great pleasure to present Tarell Alvin McCraney with the first New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award. One of the greatest joys of living in New York City is the vibrancy of its theatrical community. In Mr. McCraney we recognize a singular talent whose wit and insight will, I'm sure, be heard on our stages for many years to come and I am proud that The New York Times Company has chosen to acknowledge him at the beginning of his career."

Recipient McCraney stated, "It is an honor to be the first recipient of The Times Outstanding Playwright Award. This prize makes me smile with my heart, and bends my mind towards the Most High."

The members of the selection committee included Sylviane Gold, Tony Award-winning playwrights Edward Albee, Richard Greenberg and James Lapine, Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and, from The New York Times, cultural news editor Sam Sifton, theatre editor Katherine E. Bouton and Arts & Leisure theatre editor Andrea Stevens.

The prize will be awarded May 27 at a ceremony held at The New York Times Building in Manhattan.

The Brothers Size was part of the Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival. The McCarter Theatre Center is currently presenting the world premiere of McCraney's trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays.