Born in Brooklyn, New York, Lynn Nottage grew up in the world of education (her mother was a teacher and principal, and her father was a child psychologist). While still in high school, she began her playwriting pursuits and penned The Darker Side of Verona, a full-length drama about an African-American Shakespeare company traveling through the south. Nottage attended Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. She has also received honorary degrees from Julliard and Albright College.
Nottage has the distinction of being the only woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice: In 2009 for Ruined, and again in 2017 for Sweat. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, she has been honored with dozens of awards, including a MacArthur Genius Grant, the Helen Hayes Award, a Guggenheim Grant, Obie Awards, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and a Drama Desk Award. Sweat was also nominated for a Tony Award in 2017.
Today, Nottage is an Associate Professor of Theatre at the Columbia School of the Arts. She is also a board member for several theatre organizations, including the Dramatists Guild, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Nottage's plays give voice to people who have been systematically marginalized and oppressed. Intimate Apparel is about a black seamstress in 1905 New York City. Ruined was inspired by Nottage's trip to Uganda, where she met with women in refugee camps. Sweat examines the conflicts of labor and politics at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Her position on the art of theatre is probably best summed up with her statement: "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."
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