Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Pulitzer Project by Michelle Hill (September 5-December 5, 2010)

Summary:  On September 5, I began reading plays that have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in random order.    The prize has been awarded since 1918; though in some years, no award was given.  Today at about 8 PM, I finished the 79th play and completed the project. 

Thoughts:  There is a post following a summary/thoughts format for every play that has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and some are unquestionably better than others.  I allowed myself only thirty minutes to write and submit each of these posts, knowing that I would otherwise leave them in my drafts folder forever in an attempt at editorial perfection.  These posts are unedited and (I'm sure) contain a number of syntactical and grammatical errors.  Because I have been trying to finish the project on time, I haven't actually reread any of these posts.  

I decided to blog about each play because a few years ago, I completed the American Film Institute 100 Greatest Films list, but failed to record the experience.  I now find myself saying, "Yeah....I have seen that but don't really remember what I liked or disliked about it" in many movie conversations.  I wanted some sort of catalog about my immediate reactions to the plays in this project.  Because these posts are about immediate reactions to text, they contain very little in the way of critical analysis or cultural context.  

At the bottom of each post, there are tags noting themes and subjects that reappeared throughout the project.  The tags have been very helpful, but they are one of my first editorial priorities.  
Problematic issues:
  • Because the vast majority of these plays are dramatic in nature, I sometimes forgot to note that a play was "Drama."  
  • Though there are tags for 'black playwright" and "gay playwright", I did very little in the way of biographical research so these tags should probably have a few more usages.  
  • The most problematic tag is "dysfunctional family."  It is also one of the most frequently used, but that is in large part due to the fact that I never created a "family" tag.  
  • Angels in America and August:  Osage County both exhausted the 200 character limit for tags.

When I realized I had to add a tag entitled "n-word", my thoughts about twentieth century American drama began to take a turn.  I started the project largely as a fan, attempting to supplement my knowledge of dramatic literature by reading "the best."  The bulk of these texts are remarkable, though they are not perfect.  The Pulitzer Prize Plays not only represent American drama, they represent American thinking including its very real, institutionalized flaws. 

This project was enabled by anyone who said, "that's cool" when I told them about it.  Thank you for thinking so.  Or convincing me that you thought so.  I am particularly grateful to all those who listened to my rambling stories about the most recent read, especially MH, BH, RH, NB, RD, HK and AM.  

This post demands edits, but I demand a movie. 


  1. How did you decide the order in which you read them? I probably would have attempted to do them in order.

  2. Being in the middle of this goal myself, I have to say reading them in random order is kind of important. Otherwise you end up reading 5 plays about exactly the same thing in a row; whereas if you read them randomly, your social issues are then randomized and you get more of a sense of variety.
    Congratulations on completing the goal! I hope I have it in me!

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    2. If this reaches you, nickitza, take a look at this post on my Cold Reads site and let me know if you can help me find copies of some of the plays.

  3. If this reaches you, michelle, take a look at this post on my Cold Reads site and let me know if you can help me find copies of some of the plays.