“English” by Sanaz Toossi has won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.
Finalists were “On Sugarland” and “The Far Country”
Check out my New York Theater Awards 2023: Guide and Calendar
“English” takes place in Karaj in 2008, in a classroom, where the teacher Marjan is teaching four adult students English to prepare them for the TOEFL exam (which stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language.”) My review
Sanaz Toossi, California-born daughter of immigrants from Iran, made her New York playwriting in 2022 with two plays this season, “English” and “Wish You Were Here.” Both are set in Iran, both are comedies about loss. Each focuses on intimate moments between the characters that only subtly alludes to the complicated world around them
The Pulitzer Board wrote: “A quietly powerful play about four Iranian adults preparing for an English language exam in a storefront school near Tehran, where family separations and travel restrictions drive them to learn a new language that may alter their identities and also represent a new life.” Full citation
On Sugarland, by Aleshea Harris
“An ambitious drama, inspired by Sophocles, of a community shaped by the trauma of a nameless war they have been dealing with for generations, and the ancestors they mourn, a solemn but also joyful work.”
The Far Country, by Lloyd Suh
“An account of emigrants who traveled from China to San Francisco and suffered in the shadows of a strange new world, a historical portrait of the ruthless dynamic of immigration that is also timely.”
The Pulitzer jury for drama consisted of
David John Chávez (Chair)
Chair, American Theatre Critics Association; Correspondent, San Jose Mercury News
Staff Writer, The New Yorker
Soraya Nadia McDonald
Senior Culture Critic, Andscape
Playwright, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Performance Artist/Playwright, Los Angeles, Calif.
The Pulitzer Prize for Music this year was an opera:
“Premiered on May 27, 2022 at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, S.C., an innovative and compelling opera about enslaved people brought to North America from Muslim countries, a musical work that respectfully represents African as well as African American traditions, expanding the language of the operatic form while conveying the humanity of those condemned to bondage.”