Pulitzer lights up 'August'

Dylan gets special music citation

Tracy Letts' play "August: Osage County," a blistering familial tragicomedy that has earned comparisons to the work of Edward Albee and Eugene O'Neill, on Monday was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Meanwhile, Bob Dylan won a special music citation.

Letts was nominated for the award in 2004 for "Man From Nebraska" and also is noted for the dark plays "Killer Joe" and "Bug," the latter of which he adapted into a 2006 movie that starred Ashley Judd.

"This is a tremendous honor," Letts said. "I am extremely surprised and grateful for the recognition."

The other finalists for this year's Pulitzer for drama were David Henry Hwang's "Yellow Face" and Christopher Shinn's "Dying City."

"August" ruthlessly recounts the strife of an Oklahoma family run by an acid-tongued, pill-addicted matriarch named Violet (Deanna Dunagan). When her alcoholic husband, Beverly, disappears, her daughters and their families come to comfort her, exposing depression, substance abuse, adultery, incest and pedophilia. The play has earned widespread praise. Back Stage's David Sheward noted Letts' "barbed-wire dialogue" and said the play kept the audience "fascinated for every second of the play's three acts."

Letts' father, Dennis, played Beverly for the first two months before leaving the production Jan. 28. He died less than a month later of cancer. A spokesman for Steppenwolf Theatre, where the play originated, said Dennis Letts had been confident that his son would win the Pulitzer.

"August" will play its last performance at the Imperial Theatre in New York on April 20 and will reopen April 29 next door at the Music Box Theatre for an extended run.

The citation for Dylan noted his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."

Ronni Reich is a reporter for Back Stage. The Associated Press contributed to this report.