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5 New Works That Could Receive the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Will ''Between Riverside and Crazy'' take home the prestigious honor? Or will it be ''An Octoroon''? TheaterMania handicaps the race. logo

Not so fast, Hamiltonians. We know we predicted this epic and acclaimed new musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda to take home this year's Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but perhaps we were a little bit too hasty. Only productions that opened between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2014, are eligible for this year's award, and Hamilton, much as we all love it, opened in February 2015. So it'll be up for the prestigious honor in 2016 and not in competition for this year's trophy.

But there still are a host of other extremely worthy candidates who could hear their names and titles called on Monday, April 20. Here are 5 of our top choices.

A scene from Suzan-Lori Parks' Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) at the Public Theater.
(© Joan Marcus)

Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3)
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks
Productions: Public Theater; American Repertory Theater

Already the recipient of the 2015 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for theater inspired by American history, this trilogy of plays is only the beginning of a nine-play cycle about Hero, an African-American slave who goes off to the Civil War to fight for the Confederacy with his plantation master and returns home a changed man. Parks already has a Pulitzer — for her groundbreaking play Topdog/Underdog — and this uniquely American piece about the price of freedom in the face of war could easily be her second.

A scene from Branden Jacobs-Jenkins An Octoroon at Soho Rep.
(© Pavel Antinov)

An Octoroon
Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Productions: Soho Rep; Polonsky Shakespeare Center

The 2014 Obie Award winner for Best New Play, Jacobs-Jenkins brilliantly reimagines Irish playwright Dion Boucicault's legendary 1859 slave melodrama The Octoroon through the metatheatrical lens of a contemporary black playwright named BJJ reimagining of Boucicault's The Octoroon on the basis of race. But race in America isn't just black and white, and pretty soon, the boundaries explode in the most unorthodox ways. The daring it takes to write a play where black actors don white face, white actors put on red face, and 19th-century slaves talk like 21st-century young women — all to examine the way race functions in the United States — deserves to be rewarded.

Stephen McKinley Henderson, Victor Almanzar, and Ron Cephas Jones in the Second Stage Theatre production of Stephen Adly Guirgis' Between Riverside and Crazy.
(© Carol Rosegg)

Between Riverside and Crazy
Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Productions: Atlantic Theater Company; Second Stage Theatre

Riverside follows a cop forced into retirement after a race-motivated shooting and his struggle to hang on to his rent-stabilized apartment on Riverside Drive in the face of violent houseguests, a son on parole, and an ultimatum from New York City itself. This hilarious and shocking work from this button-pushing playwright had the unique timing of being presented in a return engagement in the wake of the summer of civil unrest throughout the country. It would be the first honor of this nature for the playwright, who has spent his career putting characters onstage that wouldn't have a voice without him.

A scene from the Center Theatre Group production of Luna Gale by Rebecca Gilman.
(© Liz Lauren)

Luna Gale
Written by Rebecca Gilman
Productions: Goodman Theatre; Kirk Douglas Theatre

This well-received drama follows a longtime social worker who places the baby of a pair of teenage drug addicts in the care of one of their very Christian mothers, and shows how this risky decision comes with severe consequences. At heart, though, Gilman is exploring the quest for miracles in a corrupt system, and Americans' willingness to put all their faith in one basket, be it God or government bureaucracy.

Kyle Beltran and Adam Chanler-Berat in Michael Friedman and Itamar Moses' The Fortress of Solitude at the Public Theater.
(© Joan Marcus)

The Fortress of Solitude
Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, book by Itamar Moses, conceived by Daniel Aukin
Productions: Dallas Theater Center; Public Theater

An exuberant musical that sings with the sound of New York in the 1970s, The Fortress of Solitude is inspired by Jonathan Lethem's semiautobiographical coming-of-age novel about the close friendship of two teenage boys, one white, one black, and the effect that time has on creating a distance between them. Songwriter Friedman's distinctive melodies encompass the genres of funk, gospel, and rap, while remaining in the musical theater idiom, and Moses ably compresses the passing decades into an easy-to-follow story that's eminently relatable.