Eboni Booth on Winning the Drama Pulitzer for ‘Primary Trust’

Eboni Booth dreamed up the story that became “Primary Trust” for a school assignment. She was a playwriting fellow at Juilliard, and she decided to write about a guy who works at a bank. At the time, she drank mai tais, and soon, so did her protagonist.

That play, which she drafted in 2019 and which was first staged last year, won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama on Monday. The judges praised it as “a simple and elegantly crafted story of an emotionally damaged man who finds a new job, new friends and a new sense of worth, illustrating how small acts of kindness can change a person’s life and enrich an entire community.”

The play, set in a fictional small town outside Rochester, N.Y., and starring William Jackson Harper (“The Good Place”), was staged Off Broadway by the nonprofit Roundabout Theater Company. The first West Coast production is scheduled for this fall at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego.

“I wrote about being hungry for connection, and then I got so much connection through the production, and that was very meaningful,” Eboni Booth said of the response to her work.

Booth, 43, grew up in the Bronx and now lives in Queens; she had a previous play, “Paris,” staged in New York in 2020, and she has also worked as an actress. She talked about “Primary Trust” on Monday afternoon, shortly after learning that she had won the prestigious award.

These are edited excerpts from the interview.

For those of our readers who didn’t get to see it, what is “Primary Trust” about?

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