James Ijames

James Ijames wins Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fat Ham

The prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama has been announced by Columbia University in the US.

The annual Pulitzer Prizes are awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board for excellence in Journalism, Books, Drama and Music.

The winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama is American playwright James Ijames, for his new play Fat Ham.

The other drama finalists were Kristina Wong for Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord, and Sylvia Khoury for Selling Kabul.

Fat Ham is a comedy-drama that reinvents Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The play is getting its New York debut at the Public Theater Off Broadway in a few days time, staring 12 May 2022 and running to 12 June 2022. Directed by Saheem Ali, the play is produced by Public Theater and National Black Theatre.

Pulitzer Prize Administrator Marjorie Miller said when announcing the prize that Fat Ham is “a funny, poignant play that deftly transposes Hamlet to a family barbecue in the American South to grapple with questions of identity, kinship, responsibility and honesty”.

Publicity for the play explains that “Juicy is a queer, Southern college kid, already grappling with some serious questions of identity, when the ghost of his father shows up in their backyard, demanding that Juicy avenge his murder. It feels like a familiar story to Juicy, well-versed in Hamlet’s woes. What’s different is Juicy himself, a sensitive and self-aware young Black man trying to break the cycles of trauma and violence in service of his own liberation. From an uproarious family barbecue emerges a compelling examination of love and loss, pain and joy.”

It’s a big week for queer black characters leading acclaimed shows, with the Tony Awards 2022 nominations yesterday heaping 11 nominations – more than any other show – on to Michael R. Jackson’s 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop. The musical premiered at New York’s Off Broadway Playwrights Horizons in May 2019, and is now playing on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre New York. It too stars a young, Black queer man as its lead.

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📷 Main photo: James Ijames

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