With Broadway theaters and other stages shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic, the Pulitzer Prize board has amended its rules of drama prize eligibility to include online productions and shows that were postponed or canceled due to the COVID shutdown.
“The spread of the COVID virus has closed theaters but has in no way dampened the creativity of the nation’s playwrights,” said Pulitzer co-chairs Stephen Engelberg and Aminda Marqués Gonzalez in a joint statement today. “In this year, of all years, we wanted to honor the work that is being done. The shows are going on, even if the audience is remote.”
The amended eligibility rules covers the 2021 Prize cycle, which recognizes work produced during the 2020 calendar year. The awards will be announced in spring 2021.
Traditionally, eligibility rules required in-person productions. This year, plays that were scheduled to be produced in theaters during 2020 but postponed or canceled due to the pandemic, as well as plays produced and performed in places other than theaters, including online, outside or in site-specific venues, will be considered.
Among the higher profile new plays that went the streaming route is Richard Nelson’s Apple family trilogy produced by New York’s Public Theater. Productons that saw their 2020 Broadway openings axed by the shutdown include Tracy Letts’ The Minutes, Noah Haidle’s Birthday Candles and the James Lapine-Tom Kitt-Michael Korie musical Flying Over Sunset, while Lucas Hnath’s Off Broadway drama Dana H. drew considerable awards buzz.
Unproduced but scheduled plays must provide confirmation of cancelation or postponement, and works performed online or in non-traditional spaces must submit the standard production details and script.
The Pulitzer board will allow playwrights to determine when a canceled or postponed work is ready for award consideration. Works can be submitted only once, so a postponed play, for example, could not be entered both before and after a staged production.
The deadline for entries is December 31, 2020. Entries must be submitted online here.