Bruce Norris' play "Clybourne Park," which examines race relations and the effects of modern gentrification, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for drama on Monday.
The play was cited by the Columbia University's prize board as "a powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America's sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness."
"Clybourne Park" is a remarkably perceptive, often hilarious and surprisingly poignant look at changing _ and not-so-changing _ views on both subjects in one Chicago neighborhood.
The work imagines what might have happened to the family that moved out of the house in the fictitious Chicago neighborhood of Clybourne Park, which is where Lorraine Hansberry's Younger clan is headed by the end of her 1959 play "A Raisin in the Sun."
Norris' other plays include "The Infidel" (2000), "Purple Heart" (2002), "We All Went Down to Amsterdam" (2003), "The Pain and the Itch" (2004), "The Unmentionables" (2006) and "A Parallelogram" (2010). He is a longtime collaborator with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. "Clybourne Park" premiered at New York's Playwrights Horizons last year.
"I'm deeply honored and totally flabbergasted to receive this recognition," Norris said in a statement. "I want to thank both Playwrights Horizons and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., for simultaneously taking a chance on this play, and to thank Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago for their 10 years of support."
The drama award, which includes a $10,000 prize, is "for a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life," according to the official guidelines. The production also must have opened during 2010 to be eligible for this year's award.
Last year's winner was the musical "Next to Normal" by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey. Previous playwrights honored include August Wilson, Edward Albee, Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams.
Finalists for the drama prize this year were the Broadway-bound "Detroit" by Lisa D'Amour and "A Free Man of Color" by John Guare, which was produced at Lincoln Center.