Nilo Cruz
New Theatre
8567 Coral Way #355
Miami, FL 33155

Performing at
South Miami-Dade
Cultural Arts Center
10950 SW 211 Street
Cutler Bay, FL 33189
(305) 443-5909

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Nilo Cruz, Cuban-American author of ANNA IN THE TROPICS is the recipient of the PULITZER PRIZE FOR DRAMA and THE STEINBERG AWARD from The American Theatre Critics Associations.

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The Pulitzer Prize in Drama is widely considered one of the highest honors bestowed on a playwright in this country. The prize is given to a “distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life.” The members of the drama jury, which this year included Linda Winer (Newsday), Misha Berson (Seattle Times), Dominic Papatola (St. Paul Pioneer Press), Bruce Weber (New York Times) and Edwin Wilson (former Wall Street Journal Drama Critic) attended plays both in New York and in the regional theater and read countless plays. The award in drama goes to the playwright, but the world premiere production of the play as well as the script itself are both taken into account. For most recipients of the Pulitzer Prize, the cash award in the amount of $7,500 is secondary to the prestige accruing to them and their work. There are numerous competitions that bestow far larger cash awards, yet they do not rank in public perception on a level with the Pulitzers. The Pulitzer accolade often translates into increased prestige for the author and the producing theatre. This year’s nominated plays, in addition to Anna in the Tropics, were Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? and Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out.

Company Photo (standing) Deborah L. Sherman (Conchita), Ken Clement (Cheche) and David Perez Ribada (Juan Julian)
(seated) Carlos Orizondo (Palomo), Edna Schwab (Ofelia), Gonzalo Madurga (Santiago) and Ursula Freundlich (Marela)

Photography by: Eileen Suarez
ANNA IN THE TROPICS was commissioned, developed and then produced in its world premiere at New Theatre in Coral Gables in October-November of 2002, during the company's current Season 2002-2003 (17th Anniversary) with the support of grants from Theatre Communications Group, The National Endowment for the Arts, Vivendi Universal, Jay Harris, and The Manny and Ruthy Cohen Foundation. The play was developed during the period of one year during which playwright Nilo Cruz was in residence at Coral Gables' New Theatre.

The Steinberg Award

Nilo Cruz was also the recipient of this year's Steinberg Award from The American Theatre Critics Association, an award that he received just two days prior to the Pulitzer. The $15,000 cash prize is awarded each year by members of The American Theatre Critics Association, to a playwright who has authored a notable play in the course of the prior year.

The Steinberg Award is widely considered one of the highest honors bestowed on a playwright in this country. Two other awards were given to two other nominated playwrights, each in the amount of $5000, during the awards presentation, which this year took place in Louisville, Kentucky, during The Humana Play Festival at Actors' Theatre of Louisville. This year's other nominees included playwrights Craig Wright and Arthur Miller.

The finalists and winners of the Steinberg Award are selected by a committee of 11 theater critics from several publications around the United States, and chaired by Alec Harvey of the Birmingham News. They evaluate scripts of plays premiered outside New York City during the previous year, as recommended by ATCA members. Past honorees since the inception of the ATCA New Play Award in 1977 include Lanford Wilson, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Jane Martin, Arthur Miller, Mac Wellman, Adrienne Kennedy, Donald Margulies, Horton Foote, and Lee Blessing. Created in 1986 by Harold Steinberg on behalf of himself and his late wife, the primary mission of the Steinberg Charitable Trust is to support the American theater. Since its start the Trust has awarded countless grants to theaters around the country in support of new productions of American plays. The American Theatre Critics Association works to raise public awareness of the theatre critic's function as well as critical standards among its several hundred members.

New Theatre has also produced the world premiere of Nilo Cruz's Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams, nominated for a Carbonell award in 2001. During its 2003-2004 (18th Anniversary) season New Theatre will produce the world premiere of Nilo Cruz's Beauty of the Father.

Deborah L. Sherman (Conchita) and Carlos Orizondo (Palomo)

Photography by: Eileen Suarez
More productions of Anna in the Tropics have been announced by Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, New Jersey’s McCarter Theater, and California’s South Coast Rep. At present Nilo Cruz is working on a commission from Washington, D.C.’s prestigious Arena Stage.

In receiving the news of Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize, New Theatre’s Artistic Director Rafael de Acha commented: “New Theatre is immensely proud to have Miami-bred Pulitzer Prize recipient Nilo Cruz as a member of our family of playwrights. Nilo Cruz is one of a crop of exceptionally gifted dramatists who are giving our theatre and, by extension, the South Florida theatre community an ever-increasing reputation as a breeding ground for great playwrights. New Theatre is very grateful to all the generous supporters of its work with early and mid-career playwrights, such as Nilo Cruz, John Strand, Mario Diament, and Michael McKeever, some of them South Florida-based. The generosity and vision of individuals such as Jay Harris and Melvin C. Morgenstern, and that of institutions such as The National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre Communications Group, and Vivendi Universal creates the necessary support system by way of which a theatre can undertake the enormous risks inherent in producing new work. New Theatre thanks first and foremost the Pulitzer Prize Board which has been supporting the work of American playwrights since 1917 through these annual awards. Additionally, New Theatre thanks the City of Coral Gables, the Miami Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Burstein Family Foundation for their ongoing seasonal support.

Playwright Nilo Cruz added the following words of his own:
By honoring my play Anna in the Tropics, the first Latino play to earn the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, the Pulitzer Prize Board is not only embracing my work as an artist, but is actually acknowledging and securing a place for Latino plays in the North American theater. For his early encouragement and his remarkable generosity, I would first like to express my gratitude to Rafael de Acha, who brought me back to the fertile grounds of my hometown, to my roots, to the beautiful banyan trees of Miami: Thank you for your trust in my work, for your tenacity and artistic vision, for announcing my play in your theatre¹s season before I had actually written it. I also want to acknowledge the artistic staff that worked on the play and the fine cast of actors who brought it to life. I am also indebted to Jay Harris, Melvin C. and Nancy Morgenstern and The Manny and Ruthy Cohen Foundation, and to The National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre Communications Group and Vivendi Universal for their generous support in making the play come to life.

(standing) David Perez Ribada (Juan Julian), (seated) Deborah L. Sherman (Conchita), Edna Schwab (Ofelia), and Ursula Freundlich (Marela)

Photography by: Eileen Suarez
Anna in the Tropics tells the story of a Cuban émigré family of cigar makers in Ybor City, Florida, in the early years of this century. In her review of the play in its New Theatre production the Miami Herald’s theatre critic Christine Dolen summed up her thoughts about Anna in the Tropics thus: “The words of Nilo Cruz waft from a stage like a scented breeze. They sparkle and prickle and swirl, enveloping those who listen in both a specific place and time…and in timeless passions that touch us all. In Anna in the Tropics…Cruz claims his place as a storyteller of intricate craftsmanship and poetic power.” In his Miami New Times review of the play, Ron Mangravitte wrote “With rich poetic language and dark sexual power, Anna in the Tropics echoes the Spanish master Federico Garcia Lorca… as well as Tennessee Williams. It is not hyperbole to link Cruz with such company. Redolent with seductive imagery and intriguing ideas, this is a play to be savored now and in later productions.

New Theatre’s production of Anna in the Tropics was directed by Rafael de Acha, New Theatre’s Artistic Director. The cast included Ursula Freundlich, Deborah L. Sherman, Edna Schwab, Carlos Orizondo, Gonzalo Madurga, David Perez-Ribada, and Ken Clement. Original music and sound design were by M. Anthony Reimer. Estela Vrancovich designed the costumes, lighting designed by Travis Neff and Michelle Cumming was the set designer. Anna in the Tropics will be published later this year by Theatre Communications Group and a celebratory essay will be published in The Best Plays of 2002-2003, written by Best Plays editorial board member and The Miami Herald Theatre critic, Christine Dolen. Nilo Cruz is represented by The Peregrine Whittlesey Agency.


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