Sweat wins Pulitzer Prize in Drama 2017; Hilton Als Wins Criticism Pulitzer

Lynn Nottage has won her second Pulitzer Prize in Drama for the play Sweat.


Hilton Als, the theater critic for the New Yorker, has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism

The citation for Nottage’s Sweat reads:

“For a nuanced yet powerful drama that reminds audiences of the stacked deck still facing workers searching for the American dream.”

My review of Sweat:

Like Grapes of Wrath, Lynn Nottage’s Sweat offers a devastating look at social and economic breakdown, told not with rants or statistics, but through a riveting tale about good people in a bad situation.  The characters in Sweat live in Reading, Pennsylvania, which 2010 U.S. Census data identified as the poorest city in America.

Nottage was a previous winner, in 2009, for her play “Ruined.”

The finalists for the Drama Pulitzer were

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music
The citation for Hilton Als reads:
“For bold and original reviews that strove to put stage dramas within a real-world cultural context, particularly the shifting landscape of gender, sexuality and race.”
Walter Kerr was the last theater critic before Hilton Als to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, in 1978, and indeed only the second theater critic since the category of criticism was created in 1973. (In that time, six TV critics won.)
“For the drama prize, a jury, usually composed of three critics, one academic and one playwright, attends plays both in New York and the regional theaters. The award in drama goes to a playwright but production of the play as well as script are taken into account.”

This year the jury for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama was:

Elysa Gardner (Chair)

(former) Entertainment Critic, USA Today

Annie Baker* (a Pulitzer winning playwright herself)

Playwright, New York, NY

Jesse Green

Theater Critic and Contributing Editor, New York (soon to be the co-chief theater critic at the New York Times)

Jonathan Kalb

Professor of Theatre, Hunter College, CUNY

Wendy Rosenfield

Theater Critic, Philadelphia Inquirer (now editor of Broad Street Review)


Below is the complete list of prior Pulitzer Drama winners, with links to their citations (Since 1983, the Pulitzers have made public the finalists, which has become its own form of accolade.)


Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda

“A landmark American musical about the gifted and self-destructive founding father whose story becomes both contemporary and irresistible”

Between Riverside and Crazy, by Stephen Adly Guirgis

A nuanced, beautifully written play about a retired police officer faced with eviction that uses dark comedy to confront questions of life and death.



The Flick, by Annie Baker

A thoughtful drama with well-crafted characters that focuses on three employees of a Massachusetts art-house movie theater, rendering lives rarely seen on the stage.



Disgraced, by Ayad Akhtar

A moving play that depicts a successful corporate lawyer painfully forced to consider why he has for so long camouflaged his Pakistani Muslim heritage.


Water by the Spoonful, by Quiara Alegría Hudes

An imaginative play about the search for meaning by a returning Iraq war veteran working in a sandwich shop in his hometown of Philadelphia.


Clybourne Park, by Bruce Norris

For “Clybourne Park,” a powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America’s sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness.


Next to Normal, by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey

A powerful rock musical that grapples with mental illness in a suburban family and expands the scope of subject matter for musicals.


Ruined, by Lynn Nottage

A searing drama set in chaotic Congo that compels audiences to face the horror of wartime rape and brutality while still finding affirmation of life and hope amid hopelessness.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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