On Not Winning The Pulitzer Prize for Drama Three Years in a Row.

I did not win. It could be worse. I take this crippling blow to my artistic center in the spirit in which it was delivered, casually. Not caring a great deal. But, there again, I do care some. I care enough to write this overlong production note/query. Because my fear, and anger, and reason for writing this, is that there may be certain rules to winning a Pulitzer Prize that are unspoken? Certain rules that exist, within the overall secretive process, that could mean that I never win? But, who even cares? You ask? What those crass assholes think? Well, it’s the $50 application fee, that sticks in my craw. Why take the $50, if you are not even going to read the play? If it has no chance? Is that not simply stealing? It isn’t gambling at that point, because you can’t win. The house always wins, in the end, but it does so by giving the player a chance. No matter how slim. To win. In games where the odds are relatively even it is a matter of coupling skill and luck, and knowing when to walk away. Kenny Rodgers wrote a whole song about it. But an artist is not a gambler, they are creators. At least consider sending a 250-character response? You dig? I’m not asking for an intense criticism;

“We read it. It sucked. Sad.”

Worth every penny of $50, to know you didn’t just laugh your way to the trash without actually reading anything.

Before we get too far, though, way to go Martyna Majok. I bet it’s hard, going from Yale School of Drama to Julliard, to becoming a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. The journey is long, and fraught with the peril of losing equity through poor escrow management. How hard it must have been, winning all those awards, and going to those numerous ridiculous ceremonies. You write so brilliantly about caregiving, I wonder if you’ve ever acted as one yourself? Whatever sub textual, or collateral animosity may exist, may I sincerely applaud you for not being an old white guy. Between you, and Suzan-Lori Parks cranking out the hits, we are going to topple this patriohegemony any day now. Any moment this house of cards will come crashing down around our ears.

I wish that I was a painter, with the talent of the old masters, able to capture the beauty and wonder of life on canvas. I wish I was a musician, but I merely dabble, singing here and there. I’m not a sculptor, for lots of reasons. My dancing is not so great. I do theater, which is still a fine art. Unique among the arts in the way that it is created, in that it requires a very coordinated group of people. I have spent my entire life, trying to create great theater, by coordinating such people. It is, and probably has always been, incredibly hard. The primary reason theater is hard is because you need more than one person. Oh, you could go cheap and try to write, produce, direct, and perform in your own show. But A. Don’t try to kickstart it and 2. You can’t do it. At the very least, you’re going to need someone to talk you on, and turn off the lights. Who’s going to take your tickets? Who’s going to sell your tickets? Who’s going to let you in their building? Then add to that minimum still more and more people. Packs and teams and herds of people, dancing, and singing, and trying to look like hurting one another with deadly weapons while not actually hurting anyone. Try doing an old show, back when theater still had support. Try doing Aida. Not the Elton John one, but the original Verdi. Try doing Strange Interlude (PP for D 1929) the Eugene O’Neill play that takes 5 hours to perform. Theater is hard. People make it harder. Money makes it impossible.

If I need a million-dollar budget, I will never win. If that is one of the rules you don't state. I can write plays until I die, and probably beyond, but what good will it do me? Unless I get it to you on Broadway? It's one of the rules I feel the Pulitzer runs by, centered in the idea that theater doesn’t really exist, beyond Broadway. I maintain that it does. There are 8.5 million people in New York City, but there are 325.7 million in the United States of America. So, you have 2% of the population, but get 99% of the Pulitzers? Somehow that jives? The math checks out, on some level? Apparently. On another, however, it may all be disastrously wrong. But, I get it, you know? New York City is a magical place. We all want to live there. Wearing scarves. Drinking expensive coffee. Paying more money renting a broken, roach infested, 2 bedroom shitbox on the Upper West Side than you would on the mortgage for a reasonably sized castle in central France. I get it. You’re all rich people who think your opinions are better, your educations more comprehensive, and your time worth more. No base comparison, just more. Always more. More than the rest of us unwashed plebes who live in lesser parts of the galaxy. Fine. Sure. We’re all trash, I get it. I, above all, get it. If a play is written in the forest, does Broadway care? No, is the answer. No great mystery. Take a flying shit at a donut, you hillbilly goat fucker. Put $20 out of every check in a shoebox, and sometime in the late 2050s you can go to a high school production of Hamilton. It’s worth it. Sell some plasma, if you must.

Out here, among the common folk, we are all just trying not to put guns in our mouths. I saw the other day that dairy prices are driving farmer suicides.  My granny told me about someone who shot themselves in the head after starting a tire fire, into which their body fell and was consumed. A choice made for many reasons, but also directly coinciding with their business collapsing. Every day my friends don’t kill themselves is a win. I keep them going through bardic skill checks. I lie to them, explaining that things are going to get better. Shit, I have no control over that. Don’t tell them that, though. Just in case. I have had my moments. But now, when I look into the eyes of my daughters, I know that I could never suicide. Even if painless. Not when I can fight for them. Make a better world, or die fighting for it. If you aren’t doing that, then what are you doing with your life? Get in the game. People are struggling, failing, and dying miserably. No musical involved.

For reals, Pulitzer Prize people. You should clarify your rules, to include some of these unspoken ones. Maybe there’s someplace at Columbia University where a person, not residing in New York City, could perform their submissions? Maybe mail out a “Sorry About Your Crap Art” award, to hang on the wall? A rejection letter on fancy stationary? We can cry towards it at night, as we distill the insanity of humanity into still more crap art?Or, offer 250 characters of response, for the $50 submission?  “Dearest So-And-So, Unfortunately your art was a waste of our time and garbage service. Suck dicks/eat poops in hell, you fascist pig dog. Regards, PPfD” Something along that line, for a boilerplate. Then you throw in some specificity, like the name of the play, or an insult to their livelihood. Maybe make fun of their mom, somehow. But not my mom. Donna Liend is a living saint. Free feedback, is what this is. Free feedback. Production note. We'll get them next year.   



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