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August: Osage County wins Pulitzer Prize for Drama

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August: Osage County, an acclaimed, nearly three and a half hour work by Tracy Letts, has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Established in 1917, the awards are named after newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer and administered by the Columbia School of Journalism. The award for drama comes with a cash prize of $10,000 and is given, according to the Pulitzer web site, to “a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life.”

Productions eligible to qualify for the 2008 Drama Pulitzer had to open between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2007. Other finalists in the category this year were David Henry Hwang’s Yellow Face and Christopher Shinn’s Dying City.

August: Osage County deals with a multi-generational dysfunctional Oklahoma family, including an alcoholic father, a manipulating and drug-addicted mother, and three daughters, all with family and relationship problems of their own.

Since its opening in New York, the play has done decent, if not blockbuster, business. Latest box office figures (for the week ending April 6) show August: Osage County playing to 56.3% of capacity and taking in $445,061 at the box office. The Pulitzer win should cause a rise in ticket sales for a while.

The play was first presented in Chicago by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in June 2007 and moved to Broadway’s Imperial Theatre in October, opening on December 4 and receiving rave reviews. With the Pulitzer under its belt, the show is now the favourite to win the Tony Award for Best Play in June. Its competition there will probably include Tom Stoppard’s Rock’n’Roll and Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer.

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