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Monday, August 15, 2011

Plays

Stars & Stripes - celebrating American writers

America is known as a great many things: the land of the free and home of the brave. Along with being the birthplace of presidential democracy, this vast nation is home to such famous icons as the bald eagle, the Statue of Liberty, Uncle Sam & Coca Cola. America can also boast some of the most prolific, important and world-renowned playwrights of our time.

We are proud to represent and celebrate many of these great writers, both classic and contemporary. Below you will find information on a selection of our writers (click on a writer's image or name for further information on the plays we represent).

 

From the libraries of:

DPS Josef Weinberger

 

Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller

“He said he...didn’t like sticking to the facts. He much preferred making things up. The rest, you know, is history” - Enoch Brater, Theater and English professor who interviewed Miller numerous times and is working on an upcoming book on the famous playwright.

 

 

Arthur Miller (1915-2005) was born in New York City and studied at the University of Michigan. He wrote a great number of plays (see left) and also a novel, various screenplays, texts. He collaborated on books with his wife, photographer Inge Morath. Memoirs include “Salesman in Beijing” and “Timebends,” an autobiography. Short fiction includes the collection “I Don’t Need You Anymore”, the novella “Homely Girl, a Life” and “Presence: Stories”.

He was awarded the Avery Hopwood Award for Playwriting at University of Michigan in 1936. He twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, received two Emmy awards and three Tony Awards for his plays, as well as a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. He also won an Obie award, a BBC Best Play Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, a Gold Medal for Drama from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Literary Lion Award from the New York Public Library, the John F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Algur Meadows Award. He was named Jefferson Lecturer for the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2001. He was awarded the 2002 Prince of Asturias Award for Letters and the 2003 Jerusalem Prize. He received honorary degrees from Oxford University and Harvard University and was awarded the Prix Moliere of the French theatre, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.

Edward Albee

Edward Albee

"It is three and a half hours long, four characters wide and a cesspool deep" - John Chapman on Albee's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' in The New York Daily News (1962).

 

 

Edward Albee was born on March 12, 1928, and began writing plays thirty years later. His plays have won many awards, including Tony Awards ("Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", "A Delicate Balance" & "The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?") and Pulitzer Prizes ("A Delicate Balance", 'Seascape", "Three Tall Women").

He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council, and president of The Edward F. Albee Foundation. Mr. Albee was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980, and in 1996 received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.

A. R. Gurney

A. R. Gurney

"I can only call it one of the most involving, beautiful, funny, touching and profound plays I have ever seen…" - NY Daily News (about 'Sylvia').

 

A.R. (“Pete”) Gurney was born in 1930 in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Williams College in 1952, served as an officer in the Navy, and afterwards attended the Yale School of Drama. For many years, he taught literature at M.I.T., but moved to New York in 1982 to devote more time to writing for the theatre.

He has won a fair amount of awards during his career, and is now a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Gurney has been married to his wife Molly for over fifty years. They have four children, and eight grandchildren, and now live in Roxbury, Connecticut and New YorkCity.

Other than plays, he also wrote the libretto for STRAWBERRY FIELDS, with music by Michael Torke, part of the Central Park Opera trilogy presented by the New York City Opera in the Fall of 1999. He penned the novels: "The Gospel According to Joe," "Entertaining Strangers," and "The Snow Ball." Awards: Drama Desk, N.E.A., Rockefeller Foundation, New England Theatre Conference, Lucille Lortel, American Association of Community Theatres, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Honorary degrees: Williams College and Buffalo State University. Gurney was on the faculty of M.I.T. until 1996.

Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard

"Sam Shepard is surely the only dramatist alive who could tell a story as sad and frightening as this one and make such a funny play of it without ever skimping on its emotional depth" - The New Yorker (about 'A Lie of the Mind').

 

Sam Shepard was born Samuel Shepard Rogers VII on November 5, 1943, in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. The son of a career Army father, Shepard spent his childhood on military bases in the United States and Guam before his family settled on a farm in Duarte, California. Shepard worked as a stable hand on a ranch in Chino from 1958 to 1960 and studied agriculture for a year at Mount Antonio Junior College. After leaving college, he joined the Bishop’s Company Repertory Players, a touring theater group. In 1963, Shepard moved to New York City, where he worked as a busboy at the Village Gate in Greenwich Village and began to write plays for the emerging experimental underground theater scene. He made his debut at Theatre Genesis on October 10, 1964, with the double-billed COWBOY and ROCK GARDEN. In 1965 he presented UP TO THURSDAY and 4-H CLUB at Theatre 65, DOG AND ROCKING CHAIR at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, CHICAGO at Genesis, and ICARUS’S MOTHER at Caffe Cino. Although many mainstream critics were baffled by his raw, chaotic, almost Beckettian pieces, he was soon hailed by the "New York Times" as “the generally acknowledged ‘genius’ of the [Off Off-Broadway] circuit.”

In 1966, RED CROSS, CHICAGO, and ICARUS’S MOTHER earned Shepard a trio of "Village Voice" Obie Awards. In 1967 and 1968, Shepard wrote LA TURISTA, his first full-length play, MELODRAMA PLAY, and FORENSIC AND THE NAVIGATORS, all of which also won Obie awards, and COWBOYS #2, which premiered in Los Angeles. In 1969, Shepard began a stint playing drums and guitar with the cult “amphetamine rock band” the Holy Modal Rounders, later telling an interviewer that he would rather be a rock star than a playwright. He nevertheless continued to write plays, completing HOLY GHOSTLY and THE UNSEEN HAND in 1969, OPERATION SIDEWINDER and SHAVED SPLITS in 1970, MAD DOG BLUES, BACK BOG BEAST BAIT, and COWBOY MOUTH (written with poet/musician Patti Smith) in 1971.

He left the Rounders in 1971 and moved to England, where he lived for the next three years. Two notable plays of this period—THE TOOTH OF CRIME (1972, Obie Award) and GEOGRAPHY OF A HORSE DREAMER (1974)—premiered in London. In 1973 he published his first book of essays and poems, “Hawk Moon.” Two similar collections followed in 1977 and 1982.

In 1974 Shepard returned to the United States and became the playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, a position he held until1984. Plays from this period include ACTION (Obie Award, 1974), KILLER’S HEAD (1975), ANGEL CITY (1976), and SUICIDE IN B-FLAT (1976). Beginning in the late 1970s, Shepard applied his unconventional dramatic vision to a more conventional dramatic form, the family tragedy, producing CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS and BURIED CHILD in 1978 (both of which won Obie Awards) and TRUE WEST in 1980. The three plays are linked thematically in their examination of troubled and tempestuous blood relationships in a fragmented society. Shepard achieved his warmest critical reception with BURIED CHILD, which also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. "Washington Post" theater critic David Richards wrote, “Shepard delivers a requiem for America, land of the surreal and home of the crazed…The amber waves of grain mask a dark secret. The fruited plain is rotting and the purple mountain’s majesty is like a bad bruise on the landscape.”

Shepard began a new career as a film actor in 1978, appearing in “Renaldo and Clara” and Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven.” He also began collaborating with Joseph Chaikin on TONGUES, a stage work with music that was heavily dependent on the theories of Antonin Artaud. Shepard and Chaikin would also collaborate on SAVAGE/LOVE (1979), WAR IN HEAVEN (1985), and WHEN THE WORLD WAS GREEN (A CHEF’S FABLE) (1996). Throughout the 1980s and into the ’90s, Shepard continued to write plays—FOOL FOR LOVE (1983) won Obie awards for best play as well as direction, and A LIE OF THE MIND (1985) garnered the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding new play—and expand his work in film. He appeared as an actor in the films “Resurrection” (1980), “Raggedy Man” (1981), “Frances” (1982), “The Right Stuff” (Academy Award nomination, 1983), “Country” (1984), his own “Fool for Love” (director, Robert Altman, 1985), “Crimes of the Heart” (1986), “Baby Boom” (1987), “Steel Magnolias” (1989), “Voyager” (1991), “Thunderheart” (1992), and “The Pelican Brief” (1993). He also worked on several screenplays, including “Paris, Texas,” with Wim Wenders (Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival, 1984). As writer/director, he filmed “Far North” and “Silent Tongue,” in 1988 and 1992, respectively. Shepard’s play STAGES OF SHOCK premiered at the American Place Theatre in 1991, and SIMPATICO transferred to the Royal Court Theatre after its premiere in 1994 at the New York Shakespeare Festival. A revised BURIED CHILD, under the direction of Gary Sinise, opened on Broadway in April 1996 and earned a Tony Award nomination. EYES FOR CONSUELA, based on a short story by Octavio Paz, premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club in 1998. The Magic Theatre premiered THE LATE HENRY MOSS, starring Sean Penn and Nick Nolte, before it was moved to the Signature Theatre in New York in 2001.

Shepard’s projects also include the short story collection “Great Dream of Heaven” (2002); the plays THE GOD OF HELL (2005) and KICKING A DEAD HORSE, which premiered in Dublin, Ireland, in March 2007 and had its New York premiere in July 2008 at The Public Theater; the films “Black Hawk Down” (actor, 2001), “Don’t Come Knocking” (his second collaboration with Wenders, writer/actor, 2006), “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (actor, 2007), and “Descending from Heaven” (actor, with Pamela Reed). Shepard is considered one of the foremost modern American playwrights. The Signature Theatre devoted its entire 1996–97 season to his plays. In 1985 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which awarded him the Gold Medal for Drama in 1992. In 1994 he was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame. Writing in the "New Republic," Robert Brustein called Shepard “one of our most celebrated writers,” adding that his plays “have overturned theatrical conventions and created a new kind of drama.”

David Henry Hwang

David Henry Hwang

"With M. BUTTERFLY David Henry Hwang joins the first string of American playwrights. This is an audaciously imaginative play, big in conception and theme, and a satisfying instance of a talented writer hitting full stride" - Variety.

 

David Henry Hwang’s plays include M. BUTTERFLY (1988 Tony Award, 1989 Pulitzer Finalist), GOLDEN CHILD (1998 Tony nomination, 1997 OBIE Award), YELLOW FACE (2008 OBIE Award, 2008 Pulitzer Finalist), FOB (1981 OBIE Award), THE DANCE AND THE RAILROAD (1982 Drama Desk nomination), FAMILY DEVOTIONS (1982 Drama Desk Nomination), and BONDAGE.

He wrote the books for the Broadway musicals Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA (coauthor), the revival of FLOWER DRUM SONG (2002 Tony nomination), and Disney’s TARZAN. In opera, his libretti include Philip Glass’ THE VOYAGE (Metropolitan Opera), Osvaldo Golijov’s AINADAMAR (two 2007 Grammy Awards), Unsuk Chin’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Opernwelt 2007 “World Premiere of the Year”), and Howard Shore’s THE FLY. Hwang also penned the feature films “M. Butterfly,” “Golden Gate,” and “Possession” (coauthor). He serves on the Council of the Dramatists Guild and was appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Christopher Durang

Christopher Durang

"Durang's writing is short and sharp moments of wit and hilarity" - Variety.

"If you need a break from serious drama, the place to go is Christopher Durang's silly, funny, over-the-top sketches, DURANG/DURANG" - TheaterWeek.

 

In 1996, Christopher Durang was commissioned by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation to write a new book for the popular musical BABES IN ARMS. SEX AND LONGING was commissioned by Lincoln Center Theater and was presented on Broadway in fall 1996 starring Sigourney Weaver. THE IDIOTS KARAMAZOV, a full-length play with music written with Albert Innaurato, was revived at the American Repertory Theatre.

His play BETTY’S SUMMER VACATION (Drama Desk Award nomination) had its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in February 1999 to great critical acclaim and sold-out houses and was extended three times. It was the recipient of four Obie Awards, for distinguished playwriting, directing, acting, and set design. His new musical (with music by Peter Melnick), ADRIFT IN MACAO premiered at New York Stage and Film in the summer of 2002. MRS. BOB CRATCHIT’S WILD CHRISTMAS BINGE was commissioned by Pittsburgh’s City Theater and had its world premiere in November 2002.

In the early '80s, he and Sigourney Weaver co-wrote and performed in their acclaimed Brecht-Weill parody DAS LUSITANIA SONGSPIEL and were both nominated for Drama Desk Awards for Best Performer in a Musical. In 1993, he sang and tried to dance in the five-person Off-Broadway Sondheim revue PUTTING IT TOGETHER, with Julie Andrews at Manhattan Theatre Club. And he played a singing Congressman in CALL ME MADAM with Tyne Daly as part of “Encores.” He can be heard on cast recordings of both productions. In movies, he has appeared in "The Secret of my Success," "Mr. North," "The Butcher's Wife," "Housesitter," "The Cowboy Way," "The Object of my Affection," "Simply Irresistible," and 'The Out of Towners," among others. For television, he wrote for a Carol Burnett special called "Carol and Robin and Whoopi and Carl;" and for PBS’ series “Trying Times,” he wrote a teleplay called "The Visit" starring Swoosie Kurtz as Wanda, the upsetting houseguest. He’s written several screenplays, including "The House of Husbands" (co-authored with Wendy Wasserstein), "The Adventures of Lola" for Tri-Star and director Herbert Ross, "The Nun who Shot Liberty Valance," and his own adaptation of SISTER MARY… which aired on Showtime with Diane Keaton in the title role; and two sitcom pilots, "Billy and Meg" (for Fox Television) and "Dysfunction! - the TV Show" for Warner Brothers. He hopes one day they will be produced, perhaps in heaven.

He has an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Early in his career, he won a Guggenheim, a Rockefeller, the CBS Playwriting Fellowship, the Lecompte du Nouy Foundation grant, and the Kenyon Festival Theatre Playwriting Prize. In 1995 he won the prestigious three-year Lila Wallace Readers Digest Award; as part of his grant, he ran a writing workshop for adult children of alcoholics. Since 1994 he has been co-chair with Marsha Norman of the Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School in Manhattan. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council.

   
  Other prolific American playwrights include:
  Julia Cho
  Stephen Dietz
  Stephen Adly Guirgis
  Jeffrey Hatcher
  David Ives
  David Lindsay-Abaire
  Donald Margulies
  Lucy Thurber
  Wendy Wasserstein
  Lanford Wilson
  Doug Wright
 

To search for the above writers, or to explore our entire catalogue, please visit our Find a Play page.

We look forward to working with you on your next production!

 

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