April 18, 2011 — Clybourne Park, a play by Bruce Norris, produced at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in 2010, was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama today. The jury’s citation praised the play as “a powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America’s sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness.”
Washington audiences responded immediately to this challenging new play. According to today’s announcement, Clybourne Park was the highest attended production in the history of Woolly Mammoth. Helen Hayes Awards judges agreed with the critics and have given the production eight 2011 Helen Hayes Awards nominations —the most for any new play in DC.
“I’m beyond thrilled by the Pulitzer’s recognition of Clybourne Park and proud that Woolly Mammoth played a role in the early life of this great play,” says Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz. “Bruce Norris’s writing builds on one of the most important strands in the Pulitzer tradition, including plays like Death of a Salesman, The Great White Hope, Fences, and Angels in America, that don’t merely entertain but also invite audiences to think about the moral, social, and political challenges we face as Americans. On behalf of the actors, designers, and staff involved in Woolly’s production of Clybourne Park, I want to congratulate Bruce on this important accomplishment. We look forward to re-mounting the play this coming July and sharing it with new audiences here in Washington, DC.”
In the 1950’s, a white community in Chicago splinters over the black family about to move into their neighborhood. Fast forward to present day: as we climb through the looking glass of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A Raisin in the Sun, the same house now represents very different demographics. Neighbors pitch a horrifying yet hilarious battle over territory and legacy that reveals how far our ideas about race and gentrification have evolved—or have they?
In his annual review of area productions, Tim Treanor described Clybourne Park “a brilliant play, beautifully produced.” Steven McKnight’s article on the best new plays that debuted locally said Clybourne Park is “a witty, fascinating drama that exposes racial attitudes from a variety of angles and demonstrates that we still have a long way to go in resolving these issues.”
Clybourne Park will return to Woolly Mammoth in a remount July 21 – August 14, 2011. The entire original cast is scheduled to return for the production, again directed by Woolly Mammoth Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz. More information here.