Many in the theater world were surprised yesterday when the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama went to Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, who wrote the music, and book and lyrics, respectively, for Next to Normal, the Tony-winning Broadway musical about a family dealing with its mother’s mental illness that recently recouped on its producers’ investment about a year into its run despite not featuring any movie stars. (The Clintons just saw it, too, which might have helped.) One of the most surprised people, apparently, was 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama jury chair Charles McNulty, the lead theater critic for the L.A. Times.
In a spectacular LAT blog post yesterday, McNulty was fuming, explaining how
Columbia University’s journalism school, where the prizes are administrated, ignored the advice of its drama jury in favor of its own sentiments. It’s a familiar story, but as chair of this year’s jury… I can’t help being ticked off. Two points, in particular, rankle: the blinkered New York mentality and the failure to appreciate new directions in playwriting. The board had an opportunity to correct these long-standing shortcomings, and it blew it.
The next part is also wonderful:
In an era in which important new dramatic works rarely get their start in New York, the board’s geographical myopia, a vision of the American theater that starts in Times Square and ends just a short taxi ride away is especially disheartening.
Of the shortlisted runners-up, Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity and Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play only one, the latter, was produced in New York, in a relatively short Broadway run this winter. Maybe next month’s Tony nominations will set things right…? Right?!
Update: More drama! According to ArtsBeat, “several members” of the board that ultimately decides the prize-winners (after consulting the jury’s report) went to see Next to Normal last Thursday, the night before their final deliberations on which play should win the 2010 Pulitzer.
(photo credit: Joan Marcus)