Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Lynn Nottage honored for ‘Sweat,’ becomes first woman to win twice

Lynn Nottage picked up her second Pulitzer Prize with her win Monday for “Sweat.” She had first prevailed back in 2009 for “Ruined.” While that play never made it to Broadway, “Sweat” opened on the rialto last month to rave reviews and is a frontrunner at the Tony Awards. Set in the Rust Belt in 2000 and 2008, this slice-of-life drama focuses on factory workers facing layoffs and the resulting rise in tensions among them.

The other finalists were Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves “and Taylor Mac’s “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.” The winner was decided by a jury composed of three critics — Elysa Gardner (USA Today), Jesse Green (New York) and Wendy Rosenfield (Philadelphia Inquirer) — a theater professor (Jonathan Kalb, Hunter College) and the last woman to win a Pulitzer for Drama (Annie Baker, “The Flick”).

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Nottage is the first female playwright to take this top theater honor twice. She joins the following seven fellows who have at least a matching pair of bookends:

Eugene O’Neill: “Beyond the Horizon,” 1920; “Anna Christie,” 1922: “Strange Interlude,” 1928; “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” 1957;
Robert E. Sherwood: “Idiots Delight,” 1936; “Abe Lincoln in Illinois,” 1939; “There Shall Be No Night,” 1941
Edward Albee: “A Delicate Balance,” 1967; “Seascape,” 1975; “Three Tall Women,” 1994;
George S. Kaufman: “Of Thee I Sing,” 1932 and “You Can’t Take It With You,” 1937 (both shared with collaborators);
Thornton Wilder: “Our Town,” 1938; “The Skin of Our Teeth,” 1943;
Tennessee Williams: “A Streetcar Named Desire,” 1948; “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” 1955; and
August Wilson: “Fences,” 1987, and “The Piano Lesson,” 1990.

Dish ‘Sweat’ with Broadway insiders in our notorious forums

In the 87-year history of this prize, only 13 women won before Nottage’s double act:

1921: Zona Gale for “Miss Lulu Bett”;
1931: Susan Glaspell for “Alison’s House”;
1935: Zoe Akins for “The Old Maid”;
1945: Mary Chase for “Harvey”;
1956: Frances Goodrich (with Albert Hackett) for “The Diary of Anne Frank”;
1958: Ketti Frings for “Look Homeward, Angel”;
1981: Beth Henley for “Crimes of the Heart”;
1983: Marsha Norman for “‘Night Mother”;
1989: Wendy Wasserstein for “The Heidi Chronicles”;
1998: Paula Vogel for “How I Learned to Drive”;
1999: Margaret Edson for “Wit”;
2002: Suzan-Lori Parks for “Topdog/Underdog”; and
2014: Annie Baker, “The Flick”

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