Katori Hall’s comedy-drama play The Hot Wing King, which was given a world premiere by Off Broadway’s Signature Theatre Company just before the pandemic shutdown, was awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama today.
Set in Memphis, Tennessee, just in time for the annual “Hot Wang Festival,” the play follows two Black gay men and “their culinary clique, The New Wing Order,” as they prepare their culinary entry. As described by Signature, “When Dwayne takes in his troubled nephew however, it becomes a recipe for disaster. Suddenly, a first place trophy isn’t the only thing Cordell risks losing.”
The play premiered at Signature’s Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre on February 11, 2020.
The Pulitzer board called The Hot Wing King “a funny, deeply felt consideration of Black masculinity and how it is perceived filtered through the experiences of a loving gay couple and their extended family as they prepare for a culinary competition.”
The two other finalists for the Drama prize were Circle Jerk by Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley, and Stew by Zora Howard
With Broadway theaters and other stages shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic for the last 15 months, the Pulitzer Prize board amended its rules for drama prize eligibility to include online productions and shows that were postponed or canceled due to the Covid shutdown.
“The spread of the Covid virus has closed theaters but has in no way dampened the creativity of the nation’s playwrights,” said Pulitzer co-chairs Stephen Engelberg and Aminda Marqués Gonzalez in a joint statement last September. “In this year, of all years, we wanted to honor the work that is being done. The shows are going on, even if the audience is remote.”