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Nilo Cruz Works Wins Pulitzer, Comes to Chicago
by JONATHAN ABARBANEL
2003-04-01

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Lanford Wilson, Tony Kushner, Tennessee Williams ... it's no big deal for a gay playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The wonder is that any straight playwright has ever won it! But this year's gay Pulitzer winner is different: Nilo Cruz, 42, is the first Cuban-American to win, and his play, Anna in the Tropics, has not been produced in New York. It WILL be produced in Chicago, however, as the opening play of the 2003-2004 season at Victory Gardens Theater, next September. Days before the Pulitzer win, Cruz received the $15,000 Steinberg/ American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award for Anna in the Tropics (the Pulitzer is a piddling $7,500; we critics know how to live large). Victory Gardens scheduled the play before either prize had been announced.

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama is selected by a jury of theater critics from daily newspapers across the country (there was no Chicago critic on the jury this year). Cruz's victory marks only the third time a Pulitzer has gone to a play not produced in New York.

In winning, Cruz aced out high-profile Broadway plays by two other gay dramatists who were considered front runners: Edward Albee for Sylvia, Or The Goat, and Richard Greenberg for Take Me Out. Well, Albee already has three Pulitzers. How many does a fella' need? Both authors are expected to be competing for a Tony Award, for which the Cruz play is not eligible.


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