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A CurtainUp Feature: Playwrights Album
An Overview of Lynn Nottage's Career
By Elyse Sommer
Awards and Honors
Screenplays and Other Writing
Links To Reviews of Plays by Lynn Nottage
Quotes by Lynn Nottage Bbout Her Work
Quotes from reviews of plays by Lynn Nottage
American playwright Lynn Nottage was born in Brooklyn (November 2, 1964) daughter of a schoolteacher and a child psychologist. She attended the High School of Music & Art and Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn. After high school she attended Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. After graduation, she worked for four years for Amnesty International, in the organization's press office.
Besides writing her own widely acclaimed plays, she is an associate professor of theater at Columbia University and a lecturer in playwriting at the Yale School of Drama.
Nottage is also a screenwriter and entrepreneur. In the latter category she co-founded a film production company (Market Road Films). Productions include Mr. Bout directed by her husband Tony Gerber— with whom she also has two children—Ruby Aiyo and Melkamu Gerber. She'll be adding musicals to her repertory,
Ms Notage is further expanding her portfolio by working with composer Ricky Ian Gordon on an adaptation of her play Intimate Apparel into an opera (commissioned by The Met/LCT). In addition she is developing This is Reading a performance installation based on her two years of interviews at the Franklin Street, Reading Railroad Station in Reading, PA.
She's also written the book for a new world premiere musical, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, based on the best-selling novel; with music by Duncan Sheik, Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead. It's scheduled to premiere at the Atlantic Theater in Spring of 2019.
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Awards and Honors
Nottage is a double Pulitzer Prize winner: Her first Prize was for Ruined in 2009; the second for Sweat in 2017. Ruined also garnered an Obie Award, a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize,as well as Tony and Drama Desk nominations.
Her other plays have also collected numeerous other prestigious awards, nominations and and prizes.
Additional honors include a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship, Steinberg "Mimi" Distinguished Playwright Award,PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award, Merit and Literature Award from The Academy of Arts and Letters, Columbia University Provost Grant, Doris Duke Artist Award, The Joyce Foundation Commission Project & Grant, Madge Evans-Sidney Kingsley Award, Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for Creativity, The Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize,Helen Hayes Award, the Lee Reynolds Award, and the Jewish World Watch iWitness Award, the National Black Theatre Fest's August Wilson Playwriting Award, a Guggenheim Grant, Lucille Lortel Fellowship and Visiting Research Fellowship at Princeton University. Back to the top
Crumbs from the Table of Joy (1995)
Mud, River, Stone (1997)
Las Meninas (2002)
Intimate Apparel (2003)
Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine (2004)
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (2011)
Our War (2014)[
In Your Arms (2015)
Mlima's Tale (2018
Screenplays and Other Writing
Besides the films for her Market Road Films Company, Nottage has developed original projects for HBO, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Showtime, This is That, and Harpo Productions. she is also a writer/producer on the Netflix series She's Gotta Have It, directed by Spike Lee.
Links To Reviews (alphabetical order)
By the Way, Vera Stark
Mud, River, Stone 1997
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Quotes by Lynn Nottage about her work.
"I look back at history — particularly the history of the United States — and for so long I saw these huge empty spaces in which I know my narrative existed. I think that you talk about reclamation, it’s one of the things where I want to reclaim my own history as part of American history and assert my presence. I know that my ancestors were there, and I know that my ancestors were instrumental in constructing what we consider to be the American narrative, but somehow those chapters are missing. I feel that as a literary person and as a playwright I’m hoping to write some of those chapters."— Nottage on being asked if she views her work as "a kind of historical recovery."
"I feel it's my social responsibility to shine a light on areas that don't get seen. My personal feeling is that it's an artist's responsibility to be engaged with the culture. And when the culture is going through turmoil, I think an artist can't ignore that. I don't feel that every artist has to be politically engaged, but I can't imagine that you can be an active participant of this culture and not in some way reflect that in the work you are creating."
When you begin a play, you're going to have to spend a lot of time with those characters, so those characters are going to have to be rich enough that you want to take a very long journey with them. That's how I begin thinking about what I. want to write about and who I want to write about..
I want the audience, when they leave, to think of the characters on the stage in three dimensions. I want them to have empathy. I also want them to think about engaging more with where we are culturally.— Lynn Nottage
"I feel it's my social responsibility to shine a light on areas that don't get seen. My personal feeling is that it's an artist's responsibility to be engaged with the culture. And when the culture is going through turmoil, I think an artist can't ignore that. I don't feel that every artist has to be politically engaged, but I can't imagine that you can be an active participant of this culture and not in some way reflect that in the work you are creating.".
"I was repeatedly told that there isn't an African American woman who can open a show on Broadway. I said, 'Well, how do we know?" She followed this up with "How do we know if we don't do it?".
. "When you begin a play, you're going to have to spend a lot of time with those characters, so those characters are going to have to be rich enough that you want to take a very long journey with them. That's how I begin thinking about what I want to write about and who I want to write about." "I want the audience, when they leave, to think of the characters on the stage in three dimensions. I want them to have empathy. I also want them to think about engaging more with where we are culturally.".
"I'm interested in the moments where the audience is restless. I'm interested in the moments where they lean in and become incredibly engaged: the laughter, the silence. All of that is part of how I think about shaping and rewriting the play."
"I think that the work is an extension of who I am, but I don’t think that when I write the play I'm looking to push the audience one way or another. I'm just asking them to have empathy for people who they may not necessarily engage with on a regular basis, to put themselves in another person’s shoes.— Nottage about whether she views her work as "political ideology."
"I wanted to tell the story of these women and the war in the Congo and I couldn't find anything about them in the newspapers or in the library, so I felt I had to get on a plane and go to Africa and find the story myself. I felt there was a complete absence in the media of their narrative. It's very different now, but when I went in 2004 that was definitely the case.— Lynn Nottage, about how she came to write Ruined.
. Quotes from reviews of plays by Lynn Nottage. (alphabetized by play title)
How come in Los Angeles nobody actually does what they do? And everybody's always on there way to something else. Something grander. — Vera in By The Way Meet Vera Stark.
People want to laugh, they want to cry and they want a little song and dance in between. And I don't think that's so fucking awful. But the one thing they don't want is to feel bad about themselves. Not now, not while the economy is dying and good folks are being forced out of their homes and into the fucking gutter. People need the past, need their history to seem heroic, glorious and romantic. That is what we do, erase their pain for ninety minutes. And let's face it slavery ain't exactly a pick me up. All I'm asking is that if you're gonna give `em slaves, give ` em happy ones. —Slasvick, the Hollywood Studio mogul who sums up the mercenary philosophy that made black actors resort to playing inauthentic and usually minor roles and often assuming faux identities in By The Way Meet Vera Stark.
I stay on here, I'll turn to dust one day, get swept up and released into the garden without notice.— Esther in Intimate Apparel
I know these kind of men. Sugared words, but let them stick to the page and go no further. He'll steal your common sense, he will and walk away." — Mrs Dickson
I dunno. I dunno. The whole time inside, I pushed what happened, you know, Chris, all of it , outta my head. Then he was… I dunno, it’s all I can think, you know — Jason, in Sweat.
You Puerto Ricans are burning shit down all over Reading, you gotta know.— Tracey, Sweat
My doors are open to everybody. And that way trouble doesn't settle here — Mama Nadi, in Ruined..
I am touched by my own invention and regret not having experienced the emotions firsthand. —Undine in Fabulations.
It's got a lovely view of the next building. I counted the number of bricks. . .6473.— Grandma in Fabulations
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