Women Pulitzer Playwrights, a short book for a short list

I often joke about wanting to win the Pulitzer Prize. Heck, winning a Pulitzer Prize was item number one on the list that was my very first post when I started this blog. Five year later and, no, I still haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize. To be fair I haven’t been trying very hard. To win a Pulitzer Prize you need to have written something substantial, which I haven’t done. A collection of over 600 eclectic blog posts of varying quality apparently doesn’t count. Oh, well.

I think my fascination with my CLEARLY INEVITABLE Pulitzer Prize started when I read the book Women Pulitzer Playwrights by Carolyn Casey Craig.

The first thing that struck me about the book was that it wasn’t very big. Just 339 pages, and that’s if you count the chapter notes, bibliography, and index. Which I don’t. The content stops on page 296.

The book isn’t long, but it is not an abridgment. This is not a book about SOME of the women who have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This book includes every woman who had won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama at the time of its publishing (2004). For each playwright there is a biography then a plot summary and history of their award winning play.

And that doesn’t even amount to 300 pages.

That is because at the time the book was written only 11 Pulitzer Prize winning plays had been written by women:

  • Miss Lulu by Zona Gale (1921),
  • Alison’s House by Susan Glaspell (1931),
  • The Old Maid by Zoe Akins (1935),
  • Harvey by Mary Coyle Chase (1945),
  • Look Homeward, Angel by Ketti Frings (1958),
  • Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley (1981),
  • ‘Night, Mother by Marsha Norman (1983),
  • The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein (1989),
  • How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel (1998),
  • Wit by Margaret Edson (1999), and
  • Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks (2002).

“But, Kim,” you say. “That book is over a decade old! Of course the book would have to be longer if they wrote it today.”

Yes, 11 more Pulitzer Awards for Drama have been bestowed since the book was written. (No Pulitzer Award for Drama was given in 2006.) And yes, some of those 11 Pulitzer Award-winning plays were written by women. How many exactly? Three.

  • Ruined by Lynn Nottage (2009),
  • Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria-Hudes (2012), and
  • The Flick by Annie Baker (2014).

No Sarah Ruhl? Seriously. That’s some bullshit. As is the continued shortness of this list.

Still, when I first read this book I wasn’t angry. I was inspired. Maybe I won’t win a Pulitzer Prize, but I can be a woman playwright. And I can add to the works performed by women playwrights. And maybe as more plays are performed that have been written by women, maybe more of those plays will be acknowledged with awards. (And hey, let’s support women in tech too while we are at it.)

For Blogapalooz-hour ChicagoNow Bloggers are given a topic and are challenged to publish a related post an hour later. Tonight’s topic was “Write about a book or publication that is special to you or has had a big impact on your life.”


Contact Kim Z. Dale on TwitterFacebook, and Google+ .

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