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Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop Awarded Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Stage Directions • Theatre Buzz • May 4, 2020

The 2020 Pulitzer Prizes winners were announced on Monday, May 4. In the Letters, Drama and Music category, Playwright Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Here’s a trailer for Strange Loop that had its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons on May 24, 2019:

From the announcement from the Pulitzer Prizes: “For a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life, Fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000). Awarded to A Strange Loop, book, music, and lyrics by Michael R. Jackson, a metafictional musical that tracks the creative process of an artist transforming issues of identity, race, and sexuality that once pushed him to the margins of the cultural mainstream into a meditation on universal human fears and insecurities.”

Usher is a black, queer writer, working a day job he hates while writing his original musical: a piece about a black, queer writer, working a day job he hates while writing his original musical. Michael R. Jackson’s blistering, momentous new musical follows a young artist at war with a host of demons — not least of which, the punishing thoughts in his own head — in an attempt to capture and understand his own strange loop. – from Playwrights Horizons’ website

Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Heroes of the Fourth Turning, by Will Arbery, a scrupulously hewn drama centering on four alumni of a conservative Catholic college who confront themselves and each other, clashing over theology, politics and personal responsibility; and Soft Power, book and lyrics by David Henry Hwang, music and additional lyrics by Jeanine Tesori, a multi-layered and mischievous musical that deconstructs a beloved, original American art form to examine the promise and the limits of representation in both the theatrical and political senses of the word.

Here’s a video of the virtual announcement from the Pulitzer Prizes. The Arts and Letters portion starts at 12:18:

A Strange Loop had its World premiere at Playwrights Horizons, running from May 24, 2019 – July 07, 2019 in the Mainstage Theater.

Creative and Production Team for Strange Loop
Directed by Stephen Brackett; Choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly; Produced in association with Page 73; Scenic Design by Arnulfo Maldonado; Costume Design by Montana Levi Blanco; Lighting Design by Jen Schriever; Sound Design by Alex Hawthorn; Hair, Wig, and Makeup Design by Cookie Jordan; Orchestrations: Charlie Rosen; Music Director: Rona Siddiqui; Vocal Arrangements: Michael R. Jackson; Music Coordinator: Tomoko Akaboshi; Production Stage Manager: Erin Gioia Albrecht; and Assistant Stage Manager: John C. Moore.

Playwright Michael R. Jackson who was just awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for his musical A Strange Loop

Michael R. Jackson
Holds a BFA and MFA in playwriting and musical theatre writing from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. As a songwriter, he has seen his work performed everywhere from Joe’s Pub to NAMT. He wrote lyrics and co-wrote book for the musical adaptation of the 2007 horror film Teeth with composer and co-bookwriter Anna K. Jacobs. He wrote book, music, and lyrics for the musicals White Girl in Danger and A Strange Loop (2019 world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in co-production with Page 73 Productions). Awards and associations include: a New Professional Theatre Festival Award, a Jonathan Larson Grant, a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, an ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, a Whiting Award, the Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting and a Dramatist Guild Fellowship. He has commissions from Grove Entertainment & Barbara Whitman Productions and LCT3.

The Jury for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama
Wendy Goldberg (Chair) – Artistic Director, National Playwrights Conference, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center
Naveen Kumar – Writer/Editor, New York City
Dominic Papatola – Theater Critic, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MN
Janice Simpson – Director, Arts and Culture Reporting, CUNY Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism
Alisa Solomon – Professor of Journalism and Director in Arts Concentration, MA Program in Journalism, Columbia University

Further information from the Pulitzers:


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