Over her 25-year career playwright Lynn Nottage has repeatedly been recognized as one of America’s most exciting playwrights, and yet, somehow never been produced on Broadway. When the MacArthur Foundation announced that she was the 2007 recipient of their artist fellowship, the foundation said: “Lynn Nottage is an original voice in American theater…” The recipient of numerous play commissions from our largest professional theaters, Nottage’s body of work will receive an intense exploration from the Signature Theatre Company as the sole playwright of their 2018-19 season.
Last year, The Guardian noted:
“Nottage’s…work has garnered praise for bringing challenging and often forgotten, stories onto the stage. …Yet Nottage also expressed disappointment that her work was constantly defined by both her own race and gender, unlike her white male counterparts.”
But thing seem to be turning around. She is making her Broadway debut her current play, SWEAT. The play, which was co-commissioned by the Arena Stage and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, has been produced at OSF, Arena Stage, and the Public Theater/NYSF. Moreover, it’s a huge hit. Now that same play has won her the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Nottage previously won a Pulitzer for her play RUINED in 2009. She becomes: 1) the first woman to win two Pulitzers for drama, 2) the first woman of color to win two prizes in any category, and 3) the second African-American playwright – after August Wilson – to win the recognition twice.
Nottage has a simpler explanation for the commercial success of SWEAT. She said it is her play “that’s the most multicultural and has the least number of African-American actors in it.”
SWEAT is currently running on Broadway at Studio 54 through September.