Class of 2010 MFA graduate Jackie Sibblies Drury earned the drama award for “Fairview,” and Professor Emeritus Forrest Gander won the poetry prize for “Be With.”
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University alumna Jackie Sibblies Drury, who earned her MFA in playwriting in 2010, and literary arts emeritus faculty member Forrest Gander were among the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winners announced on Monday, April 15.
Ostensibly a straightforward drama about a black family in act one, Drury’s “Fairview” gradually morphs into a searing study of family relationships, white supremacy and American society at large.
Jackie Sibblies Drury won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play "Fairview."
“…Abruptly you’re free-falling down a rabbit hole, and there’s no safe landing in sight,” wrote New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley, who called the play “a glorious, scary reminder of the unmatched power of live theater to rattle, roil and shake us wide awake.”
Drury told The New York Times earlier this year that “no one really had a sense of whether or not [the play] would be received well… I was just excited to experiment.”
Race has long been the subject of Drury’s playwriting. While at Brown, Drury found Rhode Island’s many connections to the occult fascinating and was later inspired to write “Social Creatures,” a play about an eclectic group of zombie apocalypse survivors who in one scene come across an African American survivor, decide he is infected and imprison him.
“It’s about how we become scared of anything outside your own group, however you define it,” Drury told Brown Alumni Magazine (BAM) in 2013, following the play’s premiere at Trinity Repertory Company.
It was also during her time at Brown that Drury developed the idea for her first play, “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, from the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915.” The play focuses on a group of actors rehearsing for a play about a genocide in Namibia; over the course of the rehearsals, they become increasingly unable to speak openly about race.
The concept came to Drury in a class on historiography, where she noticed that “the students who were white felt the immediate need to apologize for their privilege,” she told the BAM. “They looked to ethnic people in the class as experts and felt they had nothing to add to the conversation.”
Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, to Jamaican immigrants, Drury received her bachelor’s degree from Yale before earning her master’s degree in playwriting at Brown in 2010.