NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen Adly Guirgis's "Between Riverside and Crazy" has won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama, a play hailed by the judges for using "dark comedy to confront questions of life and death."
The Columbia University's prize board on Monday gave the playwright the prize for his play about a cantankerous ex-cop who owns a piece of real estate on New York City's Upper West Side and makes it a refuge for the hard-luck orphans who have become his surrogate family.
"I think it's so deserving and he's an extraordinary writer on many levels," said Neil Pepe, the artistic director of Atlantic Theater Company, where "Between Riverside and Crazy" made its world premiere starring Stephen McKinley Henderson.
Guirgis, who has been a member of the off-Broadway LAByrinth Theatre Company since 1994, had a critical hit on Broadway in 2011 with the searing recovery story "The Motherf---- With the Hat," starring Chris Rock.
His other plays include "Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train," ''Our Lady of 121st Street," ''In Arabia We'd All Be Kings" and "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot." His TV credits include writing for NBC's "UC: Undercover," David Milch's CBS drama "Big Apple," ''NYPD Blue" and "The Sopranos."
"He never forgets about the people that much of society has left behind. I feel like he has a belief in real people and their ability for redemption," said Pepe.
"Stephen doesn't embellish or spin anything. One of the things I find remarkable about his writing is he holds himself to a very high standard of looking life straight in the face and telling the truth about what's going on."
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 guidelines.
The play beat out "Marjorie Prime," by Jordan Harrison and "Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3)," by Suzan-Lori Parks.
Previous playwrights honored include August Wilson, Edward Albee, Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. Recent winners include Annie Baker's "The Flick" and Ayad Akhtar's "Disgraced."
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits