The Hot Wing King by Katori Hall wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Finalists: “Circle Jerk” by Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley — exclusively digital theater! — and “Stew” by Zora Howard.
The Pulitzer jury cited Hot Wing King as “a funny, deeply felt consideration of Black masculinity and how it is perceived, filtered through the experiences of a loving gay couple and their extended family as they prepare for a culinary competition.” The Signature Theater, where it premiered in February 2020 on stage (until shut down after a month by the pandemic), offered this synopsis: “Ready, set, fry! It’s time for the annual “Hot Wang Festival” in Memphis, Tennessee, and Cordell Crutchfield knows he has the wings that’ll make him king. Supported by his beau Dwayne and their culinary clique, The New Wing Order, Cordell is marinating and firing up his frying pan in a bid to reclaim the crispy crown. When Dwayne takes in his troubled nephew however, it becomes a recipe for disaster. Suddenly, a first place trophy isn’t the only thing Cordell risks losing.”
The jury cited “Circle Jerk” as “a contemporary satire featuring outrageous situations and language repurposed from the internet to skewer online culture and question what identities we have permission to claim.”
Breslin and Foley issued a statement that said in part: “We would like to thank the jury of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for appreciating our script, which first aired in a digital format, as the work of theater it was meant to be. We see this recognition as encouragement—both for ourselves and other artists—to push the form forward, not only in times of exigency but in the spirit of experimentation that has always kept theater alive.”
The jury cited “Stew” as “an intimate, tightly constructed drama about three generations of Black women over the course of one day, and the violence they are forced to live with, absorb and attempt to overcome.”
The five members of the Pulitzer Drama jury this year were:
Wendy Goldberg (Chair)
Artistic Director, National Playwrights Conference, Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, New York City
Quiara Alegría Hudes (previous Pulitzer winner)
Playwright, New York City
Journalist/Culture Critic, New York City
Theater Critic, The Washington Post
Director, Arts and Culture Reporting, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York