Should all Pulitzer Prize winners be produced on Broadway?

The 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama was awarded this past Monday to Bruce Norris for his play, Clybourne Park.

Clybourne had its New York debut over a year ago Off-Broadway at the non-profit stalwart, Playwrights Horizons.  It received across the board raves, but didn’t make the move to a commercial run.

So now what?

Should it be resurrected now that it has the Pulitzer seal?  Do we “owe” it to Clybourne?  Do we owe it Mr. Norris? Do we have a responsibility to the public to expose them to what has been deemed the great work of the year?

Since 1990, six Pulitzer Prize winning plays (30% of the 20 winners) have not been performed on Broadway.  They were:

  • Three Tall Women by Edward Albee
  • How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel
  • Wit by Margaret Edson
  • Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies
  • Ruined by Lynn Nottage
  • Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris

I know a lot of people still wonder why Ruined didn’t make the move.  Are people wondering that this week about Clybourne?

Would you move it?

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Comments
  • Matt says:

    I don’t think so. From a producing standpoint, sure, the Pulitzer is a great selling point, but I don’t think there should be any obligation or “owing it” to the play, the author, or the public.
    The prize is awarded for the written work, not necessarily any performance of it. Furthermore, not every production is enhanced by a Broadway run. A smaller production may help to make a better show.

  • Dave Wakeman says:

    I think the demands of the modern theatre crowd are such that without the play being a star driven vehicle, that it might not fare well. I can think of any number of plays that were exceptionally written, and if they didn’t have a star driving them, wouldn’t have probably gotten a second glance from the Broadway going audience.
    So I’d say that this play is probably not one that should be brought to Broadway, unless a big star is involved…..and, then, have at it.

  • Amyleigh1982 says:

    Short, sweet answer – A good read does not equal a stunning production. Feel free to workshop whatever you want. It does not, however, guarantee you a bump to the Great White Way.

  • Kevin says:

    The award is for WRITING, not for production. Not every well-written play can be produced commercially. Let alone on Broadway. I think that THREE TALL WOMEN was a larger success due to the fact that it was NOT moved to Broadway.

  • Andrew says:

    Only if Beyonce and Jay-Z decided to make their Broadway debuts in it, or maybe with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. That would be all a Pulitzer Prize winner on Broadway would need. The Pulitzer has in modern times seldom provided any type of box office boost!
    PS What was the name of the production that won out over Wit for the Helen Hayes? Does anyone even remember THAT play?

  • Mozz says:

    No. Whether the play is good or no is not really the question, is it commercial enough to carry $116.00 tickets.
    Do you need stars. YES?! But the play also has to be exceptionally well written… There has to be a STAR, whether it be ACTOR, PLAY or PLAYWRIGHT. Sorry, but that’s the economy of the GREAT WHITE WAY.
    I would support another off-Broadway run! For those who didn’t see it. It was an EXCEPTIONAL PRODUCTION! I think if it has the Pulitzer it should be given the opportunity to be seen by the audiences who missed it the first time around. It’s more affordable, so it would make more sense for a producer to bring it back to Off-Broadway.

  • CL Jahn says:

    It should be noted that ANNA IN THE TROPICS, the 2003 Pulitzer Prize winning play, didn’t make it to Broadway until AFTER it won the award. In fact, I believe the only production when it was nominated was the original staging at the tiny New Theatre in Coral Gables, one of the smaller theatres in South Florida.

  • “Ruined” is a perfect example of a show that won a pulitzer and is havng a healthy run on the road. There was talk of MTC moving it to b’way and I’ll leave it at that. BUT in the long run, it’s best that it did not. It is doing well touring. It is a stellar production, always well cast, w/extraordinarily heavy subject matter. If it had moved to B’way I don’t think it would have the “touring legs” as I call it that it has now. A subject about the war in the congo and female genital mutilation is a socially conscious show that needs to be toured and the story must be seen by many. In retrospect, I think if it had gone to Broadway, it would have stunted the growth of the message of this important work.

  • Adam says:

    It’s currently playing in the West End to excellent notices. Of course, one of the things that the London critics like about it is that it deals with social problems in the U.S., so there’s a big element of schadenfreude.

  • Piper says:

    I will respond to your question with another question: what does the playwright want?
    Commercial and non-profit theatre are two different beasts and most playwrights are more familiar with the creative process under a non-profit model (flawed though it may be). I wonder if they are ever worried about what the commercial production process will feel like from a creative standpoint. Or if they are concerned about what the commercial success and/or failure will do to their future artistic reputation. I can’t imagine that any playwright would shun large-scale success, but I wonder if they shy away from actively pursuing it in favor of actively pursuing the more comfortable territory of non-profit theatre. Maybe they simply don’t know how to navigate those waters.
    Personally, I would love to see all of those plays produced over and again – in whatever context the original creator desires.

  • Mary says:

    No play is owed a Broadway run. That might not be your best audience, the time might not be right. You could have a superior production in other venues. If I were a producer I’d do it for the prestige. Kind of like in publishing where you put out very experimental literary works that wins international literary prizes and pay the bills on the romances and westerns.

  • David Merrick Jr. says:

    If it would come back to Broadway, it should only do so under the aegis of a non-profit i.e. Roundabout, MTC or LTC. Then it can get its’ 8-10 weeks in, and possibly extend.
    Without names, the odds of a play having a good run, no matter the reviews, is between slim and none these days.

  • Travis says:

    I do think Pulitzer winning shows should have second life in NY, but not necessarily on Broadway.

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Ken Davenport
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