AwardsMichael R. Jackson's A Strange Loop Wins 2020 Pulitzer Prize for DramaThe musical premiered at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons last year.
Ryan McPhee, Olivia Clement
May 04, 2020
Michael R. Jackson has been named the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his musical A Strange Loop.
The semi-autobiographical piece is the 10th musical to receive the distinction, following Hamilton, Next to Normal, Rent, Sunday in the Park With George, A Chorus Line, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Fiorello!, South Pacific, and Of Thee I Sing.
A Strange Loop made its world premiere last year at Off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons in a co-production with Page 73. The musical, inspired by Jackson's own experiences, follows a young artist at war with a host of demons—not least of which are the punishing thoughts in his own head—in an attempt to capture and understand his own strange loop.
Directed by Stephen Brackett with choreography by Raja Feather Kelly, A Strange Loop played an acclaimed, extended run at Playwrights May 24–July 7, 2019. In addition to the Pulitzer, the musical was named the Best Musical of the 2019–2020 season by the New York Drama Critics Circle and was nominated for the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical (winning two Lucille Lortel Awards for actors Larry Owens and John-Andrew Morrison). The production also recently earned six Drama Desk Award nominations.
Two finalists were announced in the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama category: Will Arbery's Heroes of the Fourth Turning (which also premiered at Playwrights Horizons) and Soft Power (another semi-autobiographical musical)by playwright David Henry Hwang and composer Jeanine Tesori. Additional 2020 recipients include composer Anthony Davis and librettist Richard Wesley for their opera The Central Park Five, about five young men of color wrongfully convicted of rape in 1989
The announcement ceremony was originally scheduled for April 20 before being moved to May 4 in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Winners and finalists were determined via virtual deliberations on Zoom. The awards luncheon, typically held in May, has also been pushed to the fall.
The Pulitzer Prize, honoring Journalism, Letters, and Music in addition to Drama, comes with a $15,000 cash award. Last year's recipients included Jackie Sibblies Drury for her play Fairview.
The move comes after the resignation of the theatre's 2020 cohort, along with its artistic director and board chair, citing similar allegations about a lack of transparency and commitment to diversity and inclusion.