Triumph of Linguistic Struggles: Sanaz Toossi’s ‘English’ Clinches 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

In a stunning triumph for the world of theatre, the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Drama has been conferred upon the groundbreaking play ‘English’, crafted by the ingenious Sanaz Toossi.

Making its global debut at the renowned Atlantic Theater Company, ‘English’ embarked on a limited run in February 2022. The storyline pivots around the struggles and aspirations of four Iranian adults bracing for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – a decisive stepping stone for their professional opportunities and the potential gateway out of Tehran. The journey of acquiring a new language presents a dual-edged sword, potentially reshaping their identities but also offering a shot at a novel life.

Among the esteemed contenders for the coveted Pulitzer were ‘On Sugarland’ by Aleshea Harris and ‘The Far Country’ by Lloyd Suh. Both of these compelling narratives made their off-Broadway debuts in 2022, with ‘On Sugarland’ premiering at the New York Theatre Workshop in February, and ‘The Far Country’ unveiling at the Atlantic in November.

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama is a distinguished accolade awarded annually for an outstanding play by an American author. The play, ideally, ought to be original in its source and delve into facets of American life. This esteemed honour, established as a part of the Pulitzer Prizes in 1917, is named after the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer. Over the years, it has been bestowed upon some of the most esteemed and influential playwrights in the annals of American history.

This award serves to acknowledge the play that most excellently upholds the highest standards of brilliance in the sphere of drama. The work must constitute a full-length play, and the playwright must be a U.S. citizen. The award comprises a certificate and a cash prize of $15,000.

The winners and nominated finalists are chosen by a jury of five theatre professionals, typically encompassing critics, playwrights, and academics. These jurors attend performances of potential candidates in both New York and regional theatres.

While the Pulitzer Prize for Drama frequently recognises work performed on Broadway, a number of notable and successful Off-Broadway plays have also been honoured throughout the years.

Past recipients of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama include the likes of Tennessee Williams for “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Arthur Miller for “Death of a Salesman,” Lin-Manuel Miranda for “Hamilton,” and August Wilson for “Fences,” among others.

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