Pulitzer Prize for Drama


The Pulitzer Prize for Drama is one of the seven American Pulitzer Prizes that are annually awarded for Letters, Drama, and Music. It is one of the original Pulitzers, for the program was inaugurated in 1917 with seven prizes, four of which were awarded that year. (No Drama prize was given, however, so that one was inaugurated in 1918, in a sense.) It recognizes a theatrical work staged in the U.S. during the preceding calendar year. Through 2006 the Drama Prize was unlike the majority of the other Pulitzer Prizes: during these years, the eligibility period for the drama prize ran from March 1 to March 2, to reflect the Broadway 'season' rather than the calendar year. The decision was made, however, that the 2007 Prize would consider works staged during an eligibility period of January 1 to December 31, 2006—thus bringing the schedule for the Drama Prize in line with those of the other prizes. The drama jury, which consists of one academic and four critics, attends plays in New York and in regional theaters. The Pulitzer board has the authority to overrule the jury's choice, however, as happened in 1986 when the jury chose the CIVIL warS to receive the prize, but due to the board's opposition no award was given. In 1955 Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. pressured the prize jury into presenting the Prize to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which the jury considered the weakest of the five shortlisted nominees ("amateurishly constructed... from the stylistic points of view annoyingly pretentious"), instead of Clifford Odets' The Flowering Peach (their preferred choice) or The Bad Seed, their second choice. Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was selected for the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Drama by that award's committee. However, the committee's selection was overruled by the award's advisory board, the trustees of Columbia University, because of the play's then-controversial use of profanity and sexual themes. Had Albee been awarded, he would be tied with Eugene O'Neill for the most Pulitzer Prizes for Drama (four).
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