12:29AM

Drama Pulitzer, 3

Mr. McNulty seems to have assessed the situation all too accurately. I am an unapologetic admirer of “Next to Normal,” but I certainly have to endorse the so-called coronation factor.

I read “Chad Deity” as a recommended entry in the ATCA/Steinberg award process. While I wholeheartedly support the eventual selection of “Equivocation,” I was gobsmacked by “Chad Deity’s” originality, its voice, its concept and its potential in execution. I read it on a plane and kept grinning and making moans of appreciation to the surprise of my fellow travellers and my wife. Some of my colleagues on the committee were less impressed, but it was the only other work that I ached to see besides “Equivocation.”

I concur that two factors were at play. One, some Pulitzer committee members saw “Next to Normal” live. It would be impossible for any filmed version of the other three to measure up. Second, “Normal” has the imprimatur of having played in New York. Someone else asked rhetorically whether the Pulitzer committee would have felt the same about “Normal” if they had been forced to see it only on DVD.

This is why my committee and I work so hard and believe so deeply in the ATCA/Steinberg Award — because excellence in playwriting and new play production is no longer limited to the five boroughs of New York City except in their minds.

Bill Hirschman, chair, ATCA New Plays Committee