Best Playwright (2011)

Lynn Nottage

In the last scene of a recent Pulitzer Prize winner, a character says soothingly, "I think we can do better." We're not so sure about that. In Ruined, star scribe Lynn Nottage combined a compelling plot and assured characters with a certain sense of place, history, and politics. But that script was merely the culmination of an already remarkable career, ranging from the fervid comedy of Fabulation to the gentle tragedy of Intimate Apparel to the delicate poignancy of Crumbs From the Table of Joy. Nottage has the surest command of structure of any playwright working but a playful attitude toward it. Ruined offered an epic with a happy ending; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark traded pitch-perfect historical comedy for postmodern farce. A strain of satire runs through nearly all her plays, but it twines with a sturdy sense of compassion. Indeed, she has always had an eye toward tensions and polarities: comedy and tragedy, benefit and loss, independence and constraint. That she made her fortune with Ruined is just the sort of paradox she'd relish.


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