“Anna in the Tropics”
by Nilo Cruz
When Cuban immigrants brought the cigar-making industry to Florida in the 19th Century, they carried with them another tradition. As the workers toiled away in the factory hand rolling each cigar, the lector, (historically well-dressed and well-spoken), would read to them. It was the lector who informed, organized and entertained the workers until the 1930s, when the rollers and the readers were replaced by mechanization.
Ybor City, a section of Tampa, was the center of the cigar industry, and it serves as the setting for Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
Anna in the Tropics was widely regarded as a “long shot” for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, mainly because it had not been seen in New York. The play premiered at the New Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida and had to compete with Edward Albee’s The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia? and Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out for the coveted award.
Cruz, a Cuban-born playwright living in New York, quoted, “It’s wonderful. I cannot believe it. The other day I went to the bookstore and I saw a book by William Kennedy. He won the Pulitzer for Ironweed, which I adore. I was standing there looking at his books and thinking how amazing it was that this writer won a Pulitzer, and now I’ve been given one, too. I think I’m still in shock. I haven’t completely acknowledged the grandness of the award.”
His past works, such as Two Sisters and a Piano, have earned him a reputation for writing lyrical, atmospheric plays with powerful emotions and language.
Anna in the Tropics was honored with two nominations at the 2004 Tony Awards. The show was nominated in the category of Best Play and Best Featured Actress in a Play (Daphne Rubin-Vega)
Opening & Closing Dates
Type & Version
Nov 16, 2003 – Feb 22, 2004
Play / Original
Royale Theatre, NY, USA
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Academy Award nominee, Lee Daniels (‘Precious’) has signed on to develop a film based on the play—which is being produced by Mankind Entertainment.
Daniels will be meeting with Cruz in January 2011 to begin work on the screenplay. The film is represented by William Morris Entertainment.
- Anna in the Tropics at the Internet Broadway Database
- Anna in the Tropics at South Coast Repertory
- Anna in the Tropics at L.A. Theatre Works which offered an audio broadcast version in September 2007 as part of its Play’s the Thing series
- Long Beach Shakespeare Company produced Anna in the Tropics, Directed by Denis McCourt April/May 2011
- McCarter Theatre Education Department. “Anna in the Tropics Study Guide”. Retrieved June 8, 2011