“Clybourne Park” by Bruce Norris was named winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Monday. The committee cited the play as “a powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America’s sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness.”
The other finalists were “Detroit” by by Lisa D’Amour, described as a “contemporary tragicomic play that depicts a slice of desperate life in a declining inner-ring suburb where hope is in foreclosure,” and “A Free Man of Color” by John Guare, which is “an audacious play spread across a large historical canvas, dealing with serious subjects while retaining a playful intellectual buoyancy.”
“Clybourne Park” frames the events depicted in Lorraine Hansberry‘s play “A Raisin in the Sun” which won Best Play from the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1959. In that seminal work, an African-American family contemplates moving to the all-white neighborhood of Clybourne Park. In this new piece, which had its world premiere at off-Broadway’s Playwright Horizons in February 2010, the couple who own the house for sale are seen in the first act as is the neighborhood fifty years on in the second act.
This year’s jury was chaired by Washington Post critic Peter Marks and included critics Chris Jones (Chicago Tribune) and Steven Leigh Morris (LA Weekly), playwright Lynn Nottage, who won the Pultizer in 2009 for “Ruined,” and NYU theater professor David Savran.