Bessemer City native wins Pulitzer Prize for drama set at NC barbecue


James Ijames, a native of Bessemer City, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for an interpretation of Hamlet set at a North Carolina barbecue.

James Ijames, a indigenous of Bessemer City, received the Pulitzer Prize for drama for an interpretation of Hamlet established at a North Carolina barbecue.

James Ijames knew that the Pulitzer Prizes would be announced on Could 9, but he did not look at to see if he gained. Rather, he busied himself in his office at Villanova College, catching up on function that he hadn’t nonetheless accomplished for the semester.

Then his cellphone commenced buzzing.

“And it was a co-worker of mine contacting to say, ‘Hey, you won this actually massive prize,'” he claimed. “And I referred to as my mom and my aunt and my uncles and my grandmother. And then it was just like everywhere you go. It was so speedy.”

Ijames, 41, a native of Bessemer Metropolis, gained the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his perform Extra fat Ham, an interpretation of Hamlet that is established at a North Carolina barbecue.

“So, in the original enjoy, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet’s father comes in and says, your uncle killed me. So, I want you to seek out revenge for me,” he claimed.

Fats Ham offers the very same kind of situation: “The father has passed not too long ago, and the uncle is now type of like in the household. My Hamlet, his title is Juicy, is striving to get to the base of it and come to a decision no matter whether or not he wants to go by means of it or not.”

Ijames graduated from Hunter Huss Large College in 1999. He went on to receive a bachelor of arts in drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, and then a master of high-quality arts in acting from Temple University in Philadelphia.

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He stated that his time rising up in Bessemer Town has had a considerable affect on his get the job done as a playwright.

“It experienced a large influence, and I appear from a truly major spouse and children, you know, all people speaking at the similar time, so I was sort of generally surrounded by a good deal of remarkable tales,” he explained. “In the South, when we chat to each and every other, there is just like a songs in the way that we talk. So that’s normally in every thing that I produce. Even when I am not creating about the South, I are not able to genuinely get away from it.”

Nevertheless, Fats Ham is the to start with play Ijames has prepared that is set in the South.

He claimed that though the perform is comedic, he needed to make sure he represented wherever he will come from “with love and appreciation, simply because sometimes, we get to be the butt of jokes. … It is really a amusing engage in, but it is really not making pleasurable of the people.”

As considerably what he is working on now, Ijames just concluded a fee for the Manhattan Theater Club, and he is also doing work as a writer for a musical.

Likely ahead, he claimed he wants to keep on composing and teaching. In the course of the pandemic, he started out to do a little bit of Television producing, and he hopes to do far more of that in the foreseeable future.

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He also would like to at some level take a split. He suggests he went proper back to work following discovering he had won the Pulitzer Prize, a thing that is common for him.

“I’ve been like heading, going likely considering that college, so I’m also hunting forward to possibly like resting a little bit, not emotion like I have to fill just about every corner of my yr with work,” he mentioned. “I haven’t really had a probability to rejoice it. And I should celebrate it.”

He mentioned that he feels the acquire is a likelihood for him to make the folks who assisted increase him proud.

“I believe for me, it truly is you know, it’s a prize that is provided from writers to writers. The people who had been finding that prize ended up not all men and women who wrote performs. There have been persons who built information journalism and people today who write novels and poetry,” he reported. “There is a thing about getting honored by the total creating neighborhood that feels seriously unique. Like speaking to (The Gazette) and knowing that this will in the newspaper of my residence, I was genuinely touched by that, because I like wherever I come from, and I get to arrive home a very good little bit, but I skip it.”

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 704-869-1850 or at [email protected]. Guidance nearby journalism by subscribing here.

This article initially appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Bessemer City indigenous wins Pulitzer Prize for drama set at NC barbecue


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