James Ijames (MFA ’06) wins 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

James Ijames (MFA ’06) wins 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

May 16 2022

James Ijames (MFA ’06) has been awarded the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his play Fat Ham, a reinvention of Hamlet that adapts Shakespeare’s drama onto a family barbecue in the American South.

A playwright, director, educator, and performer, Ijames is a 2015 Pew Fellow for Playwriting, and has won numerous awards for playwriting including the 2015 Terrance McNally New Play Award, the 2017 Whiting Award, a 2019 Kesselring Prize, and a 2020 Steinberg Prize. He is also a four-time Barrymore award-winner (twice as an actor and twice as a director) and was a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia’s first playwright producing collective.

Currently running Off-Broadway at the Public Theatre through June 12, Fat Ham was originally mounted in 2021 as a filmed, streaming production of The Wilma Theater, where Ijames is a Co-Artistic Director. Described in that original production as “a witty take on Hamlet where the only death is the patriarchy,” Fat Ham reframes its story through a Black and queer lens, with its protagonist working to break free from family cycles of trauma and violence. Ijames shared in an interview with the New York Times that his goal was to take Shakespeare’s Hamlet – a play he has always loved – and “bring it a little closer to my experience by putting it in the mouths of people that look like me and sound like me, that have my rhythms and eat the kind of food that I grew up eating.”

In addition to his M.F.A. in acting from Temple University, Ijames received his B.A. in drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, and currently teaches as an associate professor of theatre at Villanova University. His other plays include TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever, White, The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, Youth, and Kill Move Paradise.

For additional information on Fat Ham, including a trailer produced for the Wilma’s filmed production, visit the Pulitzer website.


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