Nilo Cruz

Nilo Cruz is a Cuban-American playwright and producer, known for Anna in the Tropics, which won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Steinberg Award for Best New Play, and Helen Merrill Playwright Award. Cruz is one of the few playwrights to win a Pulitzer without having a major presence on the New York theater scene. In fact, none of the Pulitzer judges had seen a performance of Anna in the Tropics; it won on the strength of its script alone.

His plays have been produced in theaters across the country and include A Park in Our House, A Bicycle Country, Dancing on Her Knees, Night Train to Bolina, and Two Sisters and a Piano, among others. “Cruz conducts arias with his pen. He is a writer of ideas, who fills the stage with a kind of lush dramatic literature…” says Hilton Als in the New Yorker.

Cruz was born in Matanzas, Cuba, and emigrated with his family to the United States when he was nine years old. They settled in the Little Havana area of Miami. He studied theater first at Miami-Dade Community College, then earned an MFA degree from Brown University. In 2001, he served as the playwright-in-residence for the New Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida, where he wrote Anna in the Tropics. A year later it received its Broadway premiere with Jimmy Smits in the lead role.

Cruz’s awards include a United States Artists fellowship, two NEA/TCG National Theatre Artist Residency grants, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, San Francisco’s W. Alton Jones award, and a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays award. In 2009, he received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a distinguished American playwright in mid-career.

“Ultimately my plays are about being an individual. Belonging to a particular group, left or right, entails a political loss. When you embrace your whole being and all that you can be in this world, that’s the strongest position,” Cruz told the New York Times.

Cruz is an alumnus of New Dramatists and has taught playwriting at Brown University, the University of Iowa, and  Yale University. He presently lives in New York City and Miami.

selected bibliography

Sotto Voice (2016)
The Color of Desire/Hurricane by Nilo Cruz
The Color of Desire/ Hurricane (2012)
Two Sisters and a Piano by Nilo Cruz

Two Sisters and a Piano (2005)
Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz
Anna in the Tropics (2003)

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