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Lynn Nottage wins 2009 Pulitzer for drama for 'Ruined'

April 20, 2009 |  1:55 pm

Lynn-Nottage-and-Ruined Lynn Nottage has won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for drama for her play "Ruined," a hard-hitting tale of survival set among the denizens of a Congolese bar and bordello. "Ruined," based in interviews Nottage conducted in Africa, revolves around young women who have been raped and brutalized, casualties of the decades-long war in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (read Patrick Pacheco's Sunday profile of Nottage). 

"These things are never expected; it's always a glorious gift," the playwright said in an interview Monday just after the prizes were announced. "One of the things I've said repeatedly is that I wanted the play to reflect the complexity of modern Africa; in my travels, I encountered some of the ugly side, but the other side too, which is the beauty and the humor and the spirit of the people."

The Brooklyn-based writer, 44, has a strong connection with the Southland: Her dramas "Crumbs From the Table of Joy" and "Intimate Apparel" were a co-commission, and a commission, respectively, by South Coast Repertory theater, and the theater also commissioned her new work "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark," a play about an aging starlet and her black maid in 1930s Hollywood.

The win affirms South Coast Rep's skill at identifying and nurturing developing artists. The theater boasts associations with an impressive list of playwrights who went on to win Pulitzers, including Donald Margulies, Nilo Cruz and Margaret Edson.  

-- Diane Haithman

Photo: Lynn Nottage on the set of her Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Ruined" at the New York City Center in Manhattan, NY.  Credit: Jennifer S. Altman.