Professor Lynn Nottage Awarded 22nd Monte Cristo Award

Lillian Mottern
November 13, 2023

Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright and Professor of Theatre Lynn Nottage was presented with the Monte Cristo Award by The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center on November 6, 2023 during a gala in her honor. 

The first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize twice, Nottage spent time in residence at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in 2006 while she was writing her first Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Ruined. She received her second Pulitzer for her 2015 play, Sweat.

The Monte Cristo Award is presented annually by The O'Neill Theater Center to an established artist whose work has had an extraordinary impact on American theatre. The annual gala supports The O'Neill's mission to develop new work and new artists for the stage.

Directed by Drama Desk Award-winning actress, playwright, and director, Seret Scott, the gala was a dazzling celebration of Nottage’s work, featuring performances from an array of talented artists. Performances included a reading of Nottage’s one-act play, Poof!, a performance of “Even The Night Has Ears'' from her play Mlima’s Tale, scenes from Ruined and Intimate Apparel, and a monologue from Crumbs from the Table of Joy. Last but certainly not least in the line-up was a performance of “I’ll Be There" from MJ: The Musical, a Broadway musical which features Nottage’s libretto. 

“Sometimes art is there to sooth us, sometimes it is there to entertain us, sometimes it is there to enlighten us. Sometimes art truly is a lifeline—it is there because it is the only way we can comfort and process and shine light on injustice. Theater can be a refuge but it can also be a loud speaker amplifying the complexities of our human experience,” said Nottage. “I wrote those first words of my play Ruined at the O’Neill Theater Center. I had an overstuffed life and it was really hard to push out all of this noise, and I needed a space where I could sit and conjure a play that I knew was going to be difficult and painful; and in that room in Connecticut, it provided me with safe space. Ruined exists because I was given a desk and a quiet place to write a play in Connecticut, and that play really became a rallying cry for a community that was much larger than I ever imagined. I feel indebted and thankful that I had that short period of time where I could escape and invest in my practice.” 

Nottage was presented with the award by her daughter, Ruby Aiyo Gerber.