Genius is as Genius Does – James Ijames’ 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, earned for his production of “Fat Ham”.
No sooner than his new play Reverie starts staging through Azuka Theatre at the Drake, and no sooner than he sets foot into the Wilma to start directing Fairview (which drops on May 31), Philly’s Barrymore Award-winning actor, director and playwright James Ijames nails the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, for his 2021 digital production of Fat Ham.
The Shakespearian-based play with Hamlet overtones and a Southern family’s feel is but a taste of what made Fat Ham great in the first place, and worth a real live physical staging when it hits NYC’s Public Theater in collaboration with the National Black Theater later this month.
“It’s an inspiring time as we have the honor to celebrate our 50th production with James’ new play Reverie, directed by Jerrell L. Henderson,” wrote the brain trust at Azuka of a drama which runs until May 22. “All of us at Azuka Theatre send out bursting hearts of congratulations to James and this well-deserved acknowledgment of his voice in American theater.”
The other day, Ijames spoke to me about his trajectory as an artist, one that took him from an Arthur Miller-esque first staged play (“By and By”) and into the present day.
“I have fought all impulse to mimic (since my first play) and have gone into wild places of my own – antebellum revenge plays, plays about the art world – all in an attempt to better understand how Blackness is better depicted on stage. That’s always there. Even when I did By and By, there was a Black family doing Black family things. I don’ get back to family, however, until Fat Ham and even parts of Reverie.”
Main Image: Beowulf Sheehan