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Quiara Alegria Hudes wins Pulitzer Prize for drama

By Mark Kennedy

Associated Press

Published: Monday, April 16 2012 2:35 p.m. MDT

NEW YORK — Quiara Alegria Hudes's play "Water by the Spoonful," about an Iraq war veteran struggling to find his place in the world, has won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

The play, which was produced last fall at Hartford Stage Company in Connecticut, was called an "imaginative play about the search for meaning" by the Columbia University's prize board on Monday.

Hudes previously wrote the book for the Broadway show "In the Heights," which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2008. Her play "Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue" was a finalist for the Pulitzer in 2007.

In "Water by the Spoonful," a soldier returns from war to Philadelphia and struggles to put aside the images that haunt him while his mother, a recovering addict, battles her own demons.

The drama award, which includes a $10,000 prize, is "for a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life," according to the official guidelines. The production also must have opened during 2011 to be eligible for this year's award.

Hudes graduated from public school in Philadelphia, got her bachelor's in music from Yale University and an M.F.A. in playwriting from Brown University, where she studied with Paula Vogel, the playwright of "How I Learned to Drive."

Her other works include "Barrio Grrrl!," a children's musical about a 9-year-old who fancies herself a superhero and which premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2009, and "26 Miles," the story of a mother and her sick daughter which premiered at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 2009.

"Water by the Spoonful" is the second of a planned trilogy that began with her "Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue," a play about a young Marine coming to terms with his service in Iraq and his father's service in Vietnam.

Hudes' play beat out two other finalists: "Other Desert Cities" by Jon Robin Baitz, a witty drama about an affluent California couple whose daughter has written a memoir that threatens to reveal family secrets, and "Sons of the Prophet" by Stephen Karam, a play about a Lebanese-American family that blends comedy and tragedy.

Last year's winner was Bruce Norris' "Clybourne Park," a play currently on Broadway that examines race relations and the effects of modern gentrification. Previous playwrights honored include August Wilson, Edward Albee, Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams.

Online: http://www.pulitzer.org

Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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