Playwright Lynn Nottage, who won her second Pulitzer Prize on Monday for her play Sweat, knows her award is especially significant for two groups.
“No. 1, I’m representing for women, and No. 2, I’m representing for playwrights of color,” Nottage said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times after the awards were announced.
Sweat, which examines the lives of working class individuals in a Pennsylvania factory, has been deemed as the “first theatrical landmark” of the era of President Donald Trump. “I don’t think any of us could predict Trump. Trump is the stuff of nightmares,” Nottage told the Times. “But in talking to people, I knew there was a tremendous level of disaffection and anger and sorrow. I know people felt misrepresented and voiceless.”
The acclaimed writer has advocated for more inclusivity and representation in the theatre industry. Over the past three years, only 3.4% of plays written by American women of color were produced at a non-profit theatre, according to a study from the Lilly Awards and Dramatists Guild. Nottage’s first Pulitzer-winning play Ruined, which focuses on women in the war-torn Congo, didn’t ever appear on Broadway because it was labelled “commercially risky,” according to Variety. “We need to diversify the people who are backstage and producing and marketing these shows,” Nottage told Variety in 2015. “It’s the limitations of these people that are holding Broadway back.”