This week we have been talking a lot about the many rising playwrights who are women, and just a few minutes ago, the Pulitzer Committee awarded its $10,000 Prize for Drama to Quira Alegria Hudes for her distinguished play Water by the Spoonful.
The work is an imaginative play about the search for meaning by a returning Iraq war veteran working in a sandwich shop in his hometown of Philadelphia. It received its first professional performance at Hartford Stage Company. Two other superb plays were also nominated, Other Desert Cities, by Jon Robin Baitz, a taut, witty drama about an affluent California couple whose daughter has written a memoir that threatens to reveal family secrets about her dead brother; and Sons of the Prophet, by Stephen Karam, a masterly play I have written about here, which tells of a Lebanese-American family that blends comedy and tragedy in its examination of how suffering capriciously rains down on some and not others.
On the jury were Steven Leigh Morris, critic-at-large, L.A. Weekly (Chair); Bruce Norris, playwright, New York, NY; Rohan Preston, theater critic, Star-Tribune, Minneapolis, MN; David Savran, distinguished professor of theatre, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY; and Linda Winer, theater critic, Newsday, Melville, NY.
About Quiara Alegria Hudes
Quiara Alegría Hudes wrote the book for the Broadway musical In the Heights (which is scheduled for Cohoes Music Hall next season). In 2008, In the Heights received the Tony Award for Best Musical, a Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical, and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist. Hudes’ play Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2007. Her play Water By the Spoonful premiered at Hartford Stage Company in 2011. Barrio Grrrl! premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2009 and toured nationally. 26 Miles premiered at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in 2009 and was published in American Theatre Magazine. Yemaya’s Belly, Hudes’ first play, premiered at Portland Stage Company and received The Clauder Prize, The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Paula Vogel Award in Playwriting, and the KCACTF Latino Playwriting Award.
“I’ve always had the need to bear witness, even as a child, to the things I saw, the world I lived in, what it means to be a person.” – Quiara Alegria Hudes
Water by the Spoonful is a continuation of the story of Elliot, someone we first meet as a teenager in her earlier work, Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue. Both plays are set in Philadelphia, her home town.
Hudes graduated from Yale and earned a master’s in theatre at Brown; her mother is Puerto Rican and her father Jewish. And her reaction to all the fuss? “I think it’s very fortunate icing on what is already a good cake. It gives me freedom. I don’t feel the need to prove myself. And it certainly makes my mother very proud.”