Brilliant. The Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney debuts a world premiere play at Chicago's prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre tonight: "Head of Passes."
The play recasts the biblical Book of Job "in Louisiana with Job as a woman whose birthday party is derailed when a hurricane strikes and family secrets come to light," reports the Chicago Tribune's RedEye. It was developed through the Joyce Awards, which provide $50,000 "grants to support new works by artists of color."
McCraney talks to RedEye about faith, sexuality and growing up in Black church:
"My grandparents were kind of shocked [after I was baptized at age six] but also relieved because I exhibited some homosexual tendencies very early. I think that made them nervous.
"But I also was a quick reader, a quick study, so intellectually, they kind of put me in this place—I think this happens in the black community often—which is, 'This very smart and ambitious but somehow effeminate young man is getting into church and starting to love what church has to offer. Let's push him in that direction so he becomes a pastor, so that he'll use God to deflect whatever other demons he's got to fight with.' Which is good, 'cause in life, I've needed that faith for many things. I'm so glad to have had it. It just didn't keep away the homosexuality [laughs]."
Philadelphia native Quiara Alegria Hudes also debuts The Happiest Song Plays Last tonight at the Goodman Theatre. Qudes is "also a 2009 Joyce Award-winner who wrote the script for Tony Award-winning musical, In the Heights, and went on to win the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Water by the Spoonful."
The 33-year-old McCraney has sometimes been described as the "heir" to August Wilson's legacy. McCraney is a Miami native and graduated from Yale '07 MFA. The wunderkind dramatist became one of the first winners of Yale University's new Windham Campbell Prize earlier. That award has a $150,000 cash tag and has been described as "one of the largest literary prizes in the world."
McCraney's is best known for his acclaimed trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays. Other works include Wig Out!, American Trade and Choir Boy. The latter made its London debut in September 2012 and explores the competing roles of religion, Black cultural identity and sexual repression at a fictional African-American prep school.
Get it Tarell!