’The Flick’ by Annie Baker wins Pulitzer for drama
Annie Baker’s "The Flick" has won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for drama, a play set in a run-down movie theater that was hailed by the judges as a "thoughtful drama with well-crafted characters" with "lives rarely seen on the stage."
The Columbia University’s prize board on Monday gave the playwright, who is in her early 30s, the prize for her play about friendship, morality and loyalty. The university said it was "a hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world."
It played off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons last year, becoming divisive among critics and the public alike. Many admired its attempt to capture real life but others found it tediously long.
In "The Flick," three relatively youthful, low-paid employees work together in a rundown movie theater in Massachusetts that still shows 35-millimeter movies on film. Everyday jealousies, disappointments and anger share the stage with jokes, chit-chat, occasional poignant revelations and a lot of workplace tedium.
But "The Flick" clocked in at 3 hours and 15 minutes - with an intermission - and angered a few theatergoers who walked out, prompting the artistic director of Playwrights Horizons to write a letter to subscribers.
"Perhaps we can all agree that whatever values we look for in the theater, we all stand on the common ground that it is a vital and important art form that we look to to illuminate the human experience with complexity and integrity," wrote Tim Sanford.
A native of Amherst, Mass., Baker has created a name for herself for creating minutely detailed worlds filled with silences and minimal information. Her other plays include "Circle Mirror Transformation," ’’Body Awareness" and "The Aliens."
The drama award, which includes a $10,000 prize, is "for a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life," according to the official guidelines.
Baker beat out "The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence," by Madeleine George, which also played Playwrights Horizons, and "Fun Home," with a book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori, which played the Public Theater.
The production must have opened during 2013 to be eligible for this year’s award. Previous playwrights honored include August Wilson, Edward Albee, Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams.
Last year’s winner was Ayad Akhtar’s "Disgraced," a play about a successful Pakistani-American lawyer whose dinner party spins out of control. The year before, it was "Water By the Spoonful" by Quiara Alegria Hudes.