Ayad Akhtar’s ‘Disgraced’ wins Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Ayad Akhtar’s play “Disgraced” — which examines the struggle of a Pakistani-American corporate lawyer to reconcile his heritage with his ambition — won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama. After premiering at Chicago’s American Theater Company, the play ran off-Broadway last fall in the smallest of the three theaters at Lincoln Center.

The Gotham production starred “Daily Show” contributor Aasif Mandvi as the legal eagle and Heidi Armbruster as his wife, an artist who uses Islamic imagery in her work. 

One of the other finalists — Amy Herzog’s domestic drama “4,000 Miles” — also played at LCT while Gina Gionfriddo’s wry comedy “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” debuted at another off-Broadway house, Playwrights Horizons.

Administered by Columbia University, the Pulitzer Prize for drama is designated “for a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life.” 

This year’s jury was chaired by Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks and included Princeton professor Jill Dolan, Tampa Bay Times critic John Fleming, Pulitzer-winning playwright Donald Margulies (“Dinner with Friends” and Village Voice critic Alexis Soloski

While the prize comes with bragging rights and a check for $10,000, the rewards beyond this are less tangible. Last year’s champ — Quiara Alegria Hudes’ “Water by the Spoonful” — ran for only a few weeks off-Broadway. 

The 2011 winner, “Clybourne Park” by Bruce Norris, did get remounted on Broadway and took home last year’s top Tony for Best Play. However, it failed to turn a profit in its five-month run.

And in 2010, the tuner “Next to Normal” was already running on the rialto when it won and extended its stay by several months. 

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