Who Will Win the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama?

By Robert Simonson
April 10, 2013

The rules for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama state that "productions receiving a press opening in the United States between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 are eligible."



Clear enough. But one of the potential main contenders for this year's prize was seen by audiences a year earlier than that. 4000 Miles, by Amy Herzog, is a gentle, warm drama about a troubled young man who crashes at the Manhattan apartment of his aged grandmother to piece together the parts of his recently shattered life and world view. Critics found Herzog's naturalistic tapestry touching, compassionate and authentically felt when the play opened in summer 2011 at the Duke on 42nd Street. It became a surprise critical hit, and Lincoln Center Theater, the producer, reopened it at the larger Newhouse Theater in 2012.

Last year at this time, a Lincoln Center spokesman said 4000 Miles would be submitted for the calendar year 2012. That plan was confirmed recently. (I speculated in my article last year that LCT didn't want to pit two of its Pulitzer-bait properties—the other being Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities—against one another. As it turned out, the prize went to surprise dark horse Water By The Spoonful.)

In preparation for this article, Playbill.com conducted its usual informal survey of drama critics and press agents. What emerged was that 2012 was not a year filled with Pulitzer contenders of obvious strength. That said, a few titles were mentioned more than once.

The Whale, Samuel D. Hunter's funny but ultimately tragic play about a morbidly obese father who tries to reconnect with his daughter, was thought to be in the running. The play, which received mixed reviews (though seems to be remembered fondly by a few critics), opened at Playwrights Horizons last fall. Also suggested was Disgraced, Avad Akhtar's drama about a successful Pakistani-American lawyer whose dinner party goes out of control when conversation grows heated. The play had its world premiere at Chicago's American Theater Company in 2012 and then ran at Lincoln Center Theater's Claire Tow Theater last autumn.

Shuler Hensley in The Whale.
photo by Joan Marcus

Title and Deed, Wil Eno's existential solo play, was pointed out as a possible candidate. But Signature Theatre Company, which produced the American premiere last spring, declined to confirm that the script had been submitted for consideration. Another critic suggested that a second Eno title, The Realistic Joneses, might stand a chance. It opened at Yale Rep in spring of last year. Eno's Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a Pulitzer finalist in 2005.

One critic pointed out that playwright Christopher Durang, a 2006 Pulitzer finalist for Miss Witherspoon, was long overdue for an honor, making Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, another Lincoln Center production, a possibility. The show opened last year, but this year transferred to Broadway.

Other possibilities that were brought up: Robert Schenkkan's historical drama about Lyndon Johnson, All the Way, which has already picked up two national awards after playing at Oregon Shakespeare (Schenkkan has already won a Pulitzer for his sprawling The Kentucky Cycle); The Great God Pan, another Herzog play, which opened at Playwrights Horizons late last year; and Sorry, the third installment in Richard Nelson's praised, in-the-moment Apple family plays, which have appeared every fall at the Public Theater for the past three years.

The Pulitzer Prize is administered by Columbia University. The Drama prize is "for a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life." The recipient gets $10,000.

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner – should there be one – will be announced April 15 at 3 PM ET. Playbill.com will post the news at that time. 

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The complete list of Pulitzer Prize in Drama winners is listed below:

2012: Water By the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes
2011: Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
2010: Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey

2009: Ruined, by Lynn Nottage

2008: August: Osage County, by Tracy Letts

2007: Rabbit Hole, by David Lindsay-Abaire

2006: No award

2004-05: Doubt, by John Patrick Shanley

2003-04: I Am My Own Wife, by Doug Wright

2002-03: Anna in the Tropics, by Nilo Cruz

2001-02: Topdog/Underdog, by Suzan-Lori Parks

2000-01: Proof, by David Auburn

1999-00: Dinner with Friends, by Donald Margulies

1998-99: Wit, by Margaret Edson

1997-98: How I Learned To Drive, by Paula Vogel

1996-97: No award

1995-96: Rent, by Jonathan Larson

1994-95: The Young Man From Atlanta, by Horton Foote

1993 94: Three Tall Women, by Edward Albee

1992-93: Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, by Tony Kushner

1991-92: The Kentucky Cycle, by Robert Schenkkan

1990-91: Lost in Yonkers, by Neil Simon

1989-90: The Piano Lesson, by August Wilson

1988-89: The Heidi Chronicles, by Wendy Wasserstein

1987 88: Driving Miss Daisy, by Alfred Uhry

1986-87: Fences, by August Wilson

1985-86: No award

1984-85: Sunday in the Park With George, by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim

1983-84: Glengarry Glen Ross, by David Mamet

1982-83: 'night, Mother, by Marsha Norman

1981 82: A Soldier's Play, by Charles Fuller

1980-81: Crimes of the Heart, by Beth Henley

1979-80: Talley's Folly, by Lanford Wilson

1978-79: Buried Child, by Sam Shepard

1977-78: The Gin Game, by D.L. Coburn

1976-77: The Shadow Box, by Michael Cristofer

1975-76: A Chorus Line, by Michael Bennett, James Kirkwood, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban

1974-75: Seascape, by Edward Albee

1973 74: No award

1972-73: That Championship Season, by Jason Miller

1971-72: No award

1970-71: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, by Paul Zindel

1969-70: No Place To Be Somebody, by Charles Gordone

1968-69: The Great White Hope, by Howard Sackler

1967-68: No award

1966 67: A Delicate Balance, by Edward Albee

1965-66: No award

1964 65: The Subject Was Roses, by Frank D. Gilroy

1963-64: No award

1962-63: No award

1961-62: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, by Abe Burrows and Frank Loesser

1960-61: All the Way Home, by Tad Mosel

1959-60: Fiorello!, by Jerome Weidman, George Abbott, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock

1958-59: J.B., by Archibald MacLeish

1957-58: Look Homeward, Angel, by Ketti Frings

1956-57: Long Day's Journey Into Night, by Eugene O'Neill

1955-56: The Diary of Anne Frank, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett

1954-55: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, by Tennessee Williams

1953-54: The Teahouse of the August Moon, by John Patrick

1952-53: Picnic, by William Inge

1951-52: The Shrike, by Joseph Kramm

1950-51: No award

1949-50: South Pacific, by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan

1948-49: Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller

1947-48: A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams

1946-47: No award

1945-46: State of the Union, by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse

1944-45: Harvey, by Mary Chase

1943-44: No award

1942-43: The Skin of Our Teeth, by Thornton Wilder

1941-42: No award

1940-41: There Shall Be No Night, by Robert E. Sherwood

1939-40: The Time of Your Life, by William Saroyan

1938-39: Abe Lincoln in Illinois, by Robert E. Sherwood

1937-38: Our Town, by Thornton Wilder

1936-37: You Can't Take It With You, by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman

1935-36: Idiot's Delight, by Robert E. Sherwood

1934-35: The Old Maid, by Zoe Akins

1933-34: Men in White, by Sidney Kingsley

1932-33: Both Your Houses, by Maxwell Anderson

1931-32: Of Thee I Sing, by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin

1930-31: Alison's House, by Susan Glaspell

1929-30: The Green Pastures, by Marc Connelly

1928-29: Street Scene, by Elmer Rice

1927-28: Strange Interlude, by Eugene O'Neill

1926-27: In Abraham's Bosom, by Paul Green

1925-26: Craig's Wife, by George Kelly

1924-25: They Knew What They Wanted, by Sidney Howard

1923-24: Hell-Bent fer Heaven, by Hatcher Hughes

1922-23: Icebound, by Owen Davis

1921-22: Anna Christie, by Eugene O'Neill

1920-21: Miss Lulu Bett, by Zona Gale

1919-20: Beyond the Horizon, by Eugene O'Neill

1918-19: No award

1917-18: Why Marry?, by Jesse Lynch Williams

1916-17: No award

For more information, visit pulitzer.org.