Lynn Nottage’s play Sweat, a personal and political drama exploring America’s industrial decline, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Nottage makes history as the first female playwright to win the prestigious award twice, having won previously for Ruined in 2009.
Nottage says that she wasn’t listening out for the winners of the Pulitzer Prize on April 9, and was just “chilling at home in Brooklyn” when she received a call from a journalist informing her of her win. “I’m in great company,” she tells Playbill, of joining the likes of legendary playwrights Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill, who have won the Pulitzer on more than one occasion.
Sweat, directed by Kate Whoriskey, tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives working together on the factory floor. When rumors of layoffs begin to stir, rifts form, chipping away at their trust and pitting them against each other. The production opened on Broadway at Studio 54 on March 26.
The production marks the Broadway playwriting debut for Nottage. The playwright says that in order to dismantle the “white male gaze” that has dominated the stage, it's necessary to see more female voices represented. “I love being a woman and I love being a woman of color,” says the playwright, who hopes that Sweat will encourage more diverse audiences to Broadway.
Nominated as finalists in Drama in 2017 were Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves and Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. The jury for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama included Elysa Gardner (Entertainment Critic, USA Today), Pulitzer-winning playwright Annie Baker (The Flick), Jesse Green (Theater Critic and Contributing Editor, New York), Jonathan Kalb (Professor of Theatre, Hunter College, CUNY), and Wendy Rosenfield (Theater Critic, Philadelphia Inquirer).
The play was co-commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and D.C.’s Arena Stage; it received its world premiere at OSF in July 2015 and subsequently played an acclaimed run at Arena Stage in January 2016. Sweat debuted in New York at the Public Theater in November 2016, and following critical acclaim, was extended three times. It is also the recipient of the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
Other playwrights to win the Pulitzer Prize numerous times are: Williams (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1955, and A Streetcar Named Desire, 1948), O'Neill (Beyond the Horizon, 1920, Anna Christie, 1922, Strange Interlude, 1928, Long Day's Journey Into Night, 1957), Robert E. Sherwood (Idiots Delight, 1936, Abe Lincoln in Illinois, 1939, There Shall Be No Night, 1941), Thornton Wilder (Our Town, 1938, and The Skin of Our Teeth, 1943), Edward Albee (A Delicate Balance, 1967, Seascape, 1975, Three Tall Women 1994), and August Wilson (Fences, 1987, and The Piano Lesson, 1990).
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Tickets to Sweat, priced $59-$149, are available via Telecharge.com, by calling (212)239-6200, or at the Studio 54 Box Office (254 West 54th Street). Each day beginning at 10 AM, a limited amount of tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, via the TodayTix app.