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Theatre

This Black gay playwright started his career as a Broadway usher. Now, he’s just made history as a Pulitzer Prize winner

Nick Duffy May 5, 2020
Black, gay playwright Michael R. Jackson has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Black, gay playwright Michael R. Jackson has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Black, gay playwright Michael R Jackson has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama for his acclaimed queer musical A Strange Loop.

Jackson, who once worked as a Broadway usher on The Lion King, has found acclaim with his mindbogglingly recursive show – which depicts a Black, gay usher at The Lion King named Usher struggling to navigate a white, heteronormative world – while writing a musical about a Black gay usher at The Lion King. Still following?

A Strange Loop was announced as the winner of the esteemed prize on Monday, following in the footsteps of queer musicals Rent and Fun Home. Jackson is the first Black writer to win the prize for a musical theatre work.

Pulitzer Prize board praises depiction of ‘ identity, race, and sexuality that once pushed him to the margins’.

The official Pulitzer citation says of the show: “A metafictional musical that tracks the creative process of an artist transforming issues of identity, race, and sexuality that once pushed him to the margins of the cultural mainstream into a meditation on universal human fears and insecurities.”

Due to the lockdown, the Pulitzer announcement, which comes with $15,000 winnings, was made behind close doors in an online live-stream.

Queer musical A Strange Loop won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Queer musical A Strange Loop won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Publicity photo)

Jackson tweeted: “Never in my wildest dreams. NEVER. IN MY. WILDEST. DREAMS.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey to such an incredible honor.

“I’m sure I’ll have more to say once I’ve caught my breath and looked at all these text messages and emails but for now, THANK YOU.”

A Strange Loop could be due for a Broadway transfer, Michael R Jackson hints.

The show ran off-Broadway last yer at New York’s Playwrights Horizons, with a cast album released in September 2019.

Prior to the lockdown, the show was slated to head to Washington DC in September this year – with speculation rife of a transfer to Broadway.

Speaking to The Washington Post previously, Jackson said: “It’s certainly not a secret that I would be thrilled if it would go to Broadway, but there were still some things I wanted to keep working on.”

More: A Strange Loop, drama, Michael R Jackson, Pulitzer Prize, the lion king, Theatre

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