Pirate's Alley Faulkner SocietyWords & Music

Nilo Cruz

Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright


Cruz was born to Tina and Nilo Cruz, Sr. in Matanzas, Cuba. The family immigrated to "Little Havana" in Miami, FL in 1970 on a Freedom Flight, and eventually became citizens of the United States. His sister  Clara Cruz  works as a Spanish teacher in Hialeah Gardens Elementary School in Hialeah, FL.

His interest in theater began with acting and directing in the early 1980s. He studied theater first at Miami-Dade Community College, later moving to New York City, where Cruz studied under fellow Cuban María Irene Fornés. Fornes recommended Cruz to Paula Vogel who was teaching at Brown University where he would later receive his M.F.A. in 1994. 


In 2001, he served as the playwright-in-residence for the New Theatre in Coral Gables, FL, where he wrote Anna in the Tropics, winner of the 2003 Pulitzer and the Steinberg Award for Best New Play. A year later it received its Broadway premiere with Jimmy Smitts in the lead role. Some of the theatres that have developed and performed his works include New York’s Public Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Pasadena Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, Oregon Shankespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory Theatre, The Alliance, New Theatre, Florida Stage, and the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

Cruz wrote the book of the Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy musical Havana. Its scheduled world premiere at the Pasadena Playhouse was delayed by the theatre's declaration of bankruptcy in 2010.Cruz has received numerous awards and fellowships, including two NEA/TCG National Theatre Artist Residency grants, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, San Francisco's W. Alton Jones award, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays award and a USA Artist Fellowship.
In April of 2011 Cruz received the Downtown Urban Theater Festival's first-ever Playwright Master's Award on the opening night of the festival, at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center..

Cruz is a frequent collaborator with Peruvian-American Latin Grammy composer Gabriela Lena Frank, collaborating on several operas. They recently completed a set of orchestral songs, "La centinela y la paloma" (The Keeper and the Dove), for Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra which premiered under the baton of Joana Carneiro in February of 2011.

Cruz is an alumnus of New Dramatists and has taught playwriting at Brown Univeristy, Yale University, and the University of Iowa . Currently, he divides his time between New York and Miami.


A scene from the Nilo Cruz play, Anna in the Tropics, which won the Pulitzer Prize on the basis of the script alone, before it was every produced.

Dancing on Her Knees (1994)

Night Train to Bolina (1995)

A Park in Our House (1995)

Two Sisters and a Piano (1998)

A Bicycle Country (1999)

Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams (2001)

Anna in the Tropics (2002)

Lorca in a Green Dress (2003)

Beauty of the Father (2006)



Havana - music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Jack Murphy, book by Cruz


A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings - a children's play that is an adaptation of a short story by Gabriel García Márquez

Doña Rosita the Spinster - by Federico García Lorca

The House of Bernarda Alba - by Federico García Lorca

Life is a Dream - by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society
624 Pirate’s Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116
phone: (504) 586-1609 or (504) 525-5615
fax: (504) 522-9725
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