Winning the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Clybourne Park may have been the worst thing that could’ve happened to former Chicagoan Bruce Norris. The 51-year-old playwright and actor had spent years designing a life that left him free to be as sharp-tongued, difficult, misanthropic, and iconoclastically brilliant as he wanted—and he clearly wanted, quite a bit. Thanks to the occasional role in a movie (The Sixth Sense) or TV series (Law and Order), Norris was able to maintain the economic independence he needed to write scabrous satires like The Pain and the Itch, which revolves around a four-year-old girl’s genital rash. And he was nurtured, often in spite of himself, by a cadre of supporters at Steppenwolf Theatre. Artistic director Martha Lavey put her company’s considerable resources and prestige behind him. Amy Morton directed two of his scripts there, including the world premiere of Clybourne Park. And another Steppenwolf director, Anna Shapiro, has finessed his tirades and tolerated his provocations through no less than five projects.