Anna in the Tropics Background

Anna in the Tropics Background

Anna In The Tropica is a play by Nilo Cruz. It is set in 1929 Ybor City, an area of Tampa, Florida, that is heavily Cuban. It is also the center of the cigar industry, heavily steeped in Cuban tradition. Another tradition that the Cubans brought with them to Florida in the Nineteenth Century along with the cigar-making trade was having the workers read to aloud by the lector, a well-dressed and well-educated organizer who also arranged entertainment for the workers as well. The play revolves around a factory lector who reads Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" aloud to the workers, and this is a catalyst for their lives and relationship spiraling out of control, and their lives seem to curious mirror the lives of the characters in the novel, despite the fact that the lives of Cuban immigrants during an oppressively hot Florida summer and the lives of Russians tormented by a brutally cold Russian winter would, on the face of it, have nothing in common at all. Sadly, much like in Anna Karenina, the characters in the play also meet a tragic end.

The play premiered not on Broadway (or even off-Broadway) but at the New Theater in Coral Gables, Miami, in 2002. Because of this geographical idiosyncrasy it was considered to be an extremely unlikely candidate for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was also competing against some weighty competition; Edward Albee's "The Goat" and "Take Me Out" by Richard Greenberg were also under consideration. However, against expectations the play won the coveted award. The play was also nominated for two Tony Awards in 2004, for Best Play and Best Actress.

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