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Nilo Cruz Wins Pulitzer

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In an out-of-nowhere development, "Anna in the Tropics," Nilo Cruz's play about a family of Florida cigar makers on the cusp of the Great Depression, has won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it was announced on Mon., April 7. The award came as a major surprise to the industry: the other two finalists for the honor, Richard Greenberg's "Take Me Out" and Edward Albee's "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?," were regarded as the heavy favorites.

On Sat., April 5, Cruz also won the American Theatre Critics Association/ Steinberg New Play Award, bestowed as part of the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Originally commissioned by New Theatre, a Coral Gables, Fla.-based not-for-profit, "Anna in the Tropics" had its world premiere in October and November of last year. In addition, the theatre had named Cruz its playwright-in-residence for the 2001-02 season and will produce a new piece of his next season.

Cruz's other plays include "Night Train to Bolina," "Dancing on Her Knees," "A Park in Our House," "Two Sisters and a Piano," "A Bicycle Country," "Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams," "Lorca in a Green Dress," and "Beauty of the Father." The Public Theater produced both "Dancing on Her Knees" and "Two Sisters and a Piano," representing Cruz's most prominent New York productions to date.

The selection of "Anna in the Tropics" marks only the second time in the history of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that a play as yet unproduced in New York has captured the award—Robert Schenkkan's epic drama "The Kentucky Cycle," the 1992 winner, was the other. Of equal or perhaps even greater importance is the fact that a year after Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer for "Topdog/Underdog," Cruz, a Cuban-American, has become a trailblazer himself as the first Latino playwright to receive the honor.

This year's jury pool for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama included Linda Winer of Newsday; Misha Berson of The Seattle Times; Dominic Papatola of the St. Paul Pioneer Press; Bruce Weber of The New York Times; and former Wall Street Journal critic and CUNY professor Edwin Wilson. With its world premiere now complete, "Anna in the Tropics" is next slated for production in Chicago, at the Victory Gardens Theater. The award carries a cash prize of $7,500 and is bestowed by Columbia University to celebrate "a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life."

Cruz Also Takes ATCA Award

Add to the $7,500 Cruz wins with his Pulitzer Prize another $15,000, which is the cash that comes along with winning the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg New Play Award, which is supported by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

As part of its "New Works Now!" series, The Public Theatre (425 Lafayette St.) will present a reading of "Anna in the Tropics" at 7 pm on Sat., April 26, with Cruz directing. "Anna" will also be included as part of the McCarter Theatre's 2003-2004 season at the Roger S. Berlind Theatre in Princeton, NJ. Directed by Emily Mann, the play will run from Sept. 9-Oct. 19. For more info, visit www.mccarter.org.

Two additional plays were also given some critical recognition as part of the 27th annual Actors Theatre of Louisville gathering: Arthur Miller's "Resurrection Blues," which premiered at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and Craig Wright's "Recent Tragic Events," which premiered at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, D.C. Both playwrights received commemorative citations and $5,000.

In addition to their citations and cash prizes, all three playwrights will have their works included in the 2002-03 edition of Best Plays.

Three more plays were named as finalists for the ATCA/Steinberg prize: "Across the Way" by Jeff Daniels, produced by the Chelsea, Mich.-based Purple Rose Theatre Company; "The Dinosaur Within" by John Walch, presented by the State Theater in Austin, Tex.; and "Good Boys" by Jane Martin, mounted at the Guthrie Lab.

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