Martyna Majok’s probing play examines the human condition through the lives of four lonely people, two of them dealing with physical disabilities.
Martyna Majok’s Cost of Living, a haunting, rigorously unsentimental identity play that refutes stereotypes about people with physical disabilities and their caregivers, has been named the winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The Pulitzer board called Cost of Living “an honest, original work that invites audiences to examine diverse perceptions of privilege and human connection through two pairs of mismatched individuals: a former trucker and his recently paralyzed ex-wife, and an arrogant young man with cerebral palsy and his new caregiver.”
The play was hatched out of a 2015 two-character one-act by Majok called John, Who’s Here From Cambridge, which the writer expanded by including the parallel experiences of a second couple encountering related challenges. Cost of Living premiered in 2016 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival before bowing off-Broadway last summer in a critically lauded production directed by Jo Bonney for Manhattan Theatre Club.
Majok’s other work includes the 2016 drama Ironbound, about the struggling Polish immigrant mother of a drug-addicted son in industrial New Jersey, produced earlier this year at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Her 2018 play queens was recently seen as part of Lincoln Center Theater’s LCT3 program for emerging artists, while her new play, Sanctuary City, is scheduled for spring 2019 at New York Theatre Workshop.
The other finalists in the 2018 drama category were Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Everybody and Tracy Letts’ The Minutes, which was announced for Broadway this season but subsequently pushed back. Jacobs-Jenkins was previously a Pulitzer finalist in 2016 for Gloria, while Letts won the prestigious award in 2008 for August: Osage County after being a finalist in 2004 for Man From Nebraska.
Last year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama went to Lynn Nottage’s topical Rust Belt drama Sweat, marking the second win for the playwright, who had previously landed the award in 2009 for Ruined, about the trafficking of women in the civil war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.