Pulitzer Blues

Thursday 19 April 2007

Phil has been sulking since Monday. Having got up at 4am to ready his mantelpiece, he was distraught to discover that the West End Whingers had not been awarded a Pulitzer Prize this year.

Andrew assured him that this was merely an administrative oversight as a result of which some poor middle manager (actually, isn’t every employee in the US a Vice President?) or perhaps the entire board had probably been summarily dismissed Or if they hadn’t been, they would be when he had finished yet another round of his – by now highly accomplished – poison pen letters.

Thankfully a look at the small print revealed that:

Only U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for the Prizes in Letters, Drama and Music. […] For the Journalism competition, entrants may be of any nationality but work must have appeared in a U.S. newspaper published at least once a week.

The Whingers’ disappointment was immediately supplanted by a sense of delight at the realisation that this self-petard-hoisting condition amply explains why in some years – 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1943, 1944, 1947, 1951, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1972, 1974, 1986, 1997 and 2006 for example – the board throws its hands up and decides not to bother awarding a drama prize at all.

And looking at the full list of drama winners, it becomes clear why. Only a handful of the winners have the Whingers ever heard of, and even fewer have endured. The highlights are:

1932 Of Thee I Sing by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin
1937 You Can’t Take It With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
1938 Our Town by Thornton Wilder
1943 The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder
1945 Harvey by Mary Chase
1948 A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
1949 Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
1950 South Pacific by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein
1955 Cat on A Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
1957 Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill
1962 How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying by Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows
1967 A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee
1971 The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel
1976 A Chorus Line by Conceived, choreographed and directed by Michael Bennett, with book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, and lyrics by Edward Kleban
1979 Buried Child by Sam Shepard
1984 Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet
1985 Sunday in the Park With George by Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine
1988 Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry
1993 Angels in America: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner
1994 Three Tall Women by Edward Albee
2001 Proof by David Auburn
2004 I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright

We’ve never even head of this year’s winner, so over to Steve on Broadway.

2 Responses to “Pulitzer Blues”

  1. Larry O Says:

    I’ve just read Richard McBeef, a sparse one act play which shows a good deal of promise.
    Do you know if it’s up for any awards?
    I think we can safely expect great things in the future from its youthful writer.

  2. No idea, but we’re impressed that you read plays, Larry O. That sounds like very hard work.

    Do you belong to that school of thought that says “the play’s the thing” or – as the Royal Court would probably say, “the text’s the thing”?

    We believe the wigs are the things and so are the sets. And the stars. So we don’t read plays.

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