'Fat Ham' wins 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
James Ijames's play is having its New York premiere at The Public Theater.
The winners of the 2022 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This year's winner is James Ijames's Fat Ham, with Kristina Wong: Sweatshop Overlord and Sylvia Khoury's Selling Kabul also being honored as finalists for the prize.
Fat Ham is "a funny, poignant play that deftly transposes Hamlet to a family barbecue in the American South to grapple with questions of identity, kinship, responsibility, and honesty," said the Pulitzer announcement of the show's win. The Hamlet figure, a college student named Juicy, is called on to avenge his father's murder by his uncle, but as a Black, queer man fighting for liberation, he wonders whether violence is the only way.
Ijames's play is having its live premiere and New York premiere at The Public Theater this season, with performances from May 12 to June 12. The show was previously staged and broadcasted virtually by Wilma Theater in Philadelphia in the spring of 2021.
The other two finalists also had their world premieres off Broadway this past theatre season. Kristina Wong's solo show Sweatshop Overlord premiered at New York Theatre Workshop in fall 2021, telling the story of the community she found sewing masks with others at the height of the pandemic. The five-star New York Theatre Guide review read, "The genius balance that Wong is able to achieve in Sweatshop Overlord is her ability to highlight the feel-good, human interest aspect of the Auntie Sewing Squad with a deep indictment of American society."
Also in fall 2021 was Selling Kabul at Playwrights Horizons, about an Afghan military interpreter who must decide whether to risk leaving home and being targeted by the Taliban to visit his newborn son. The New York Theatre Guide review reads, "Khoury's message rings out clearly: The United States has forced Afghanistan's citizens to ration off pieces of their souls in the hope of remaining intact, if not demoralized. It's a compelling point that has been passionately written."
The Pulitzer Prizes annually honor achievements in journalism, music, and literature, including dramatic writing and musical composition. The Drama prize honors a new play or musical that has been staged in the past year and preferably focuses on American life. Recent Pulitzer Prize for Drama winners have included Katori Hall's play The Hot Wing King in 2021 and Michael R. Jackson's musical A Strange Loop in 2020, whose Broadway-premiere production led the 2022 Tony Award nominations earlier today.
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