Durang, Augustine to serve as Playwrights in Residence at Texas State

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
September 3, 2013

Christopher Durang and John Augustine

Christopher Durang and John Augustine

Playwright Christopher Durang, who recently won the Tony Award for Best Play, and celebrated playwright John Augustine have been announced as Playwrights in Residence at Texas State University for the 2013-14 season as part of the Bowman Guest Artist Series.

“We are thrilled to have Chris and John spend some time with our students and share their expertise, especially at a time when we are producing one of Durang’s musicals,” said Kaitlin Hopkins, head of Musical Theatre at Texas State. “It’s a great opportunity for all our students in the theatre department to learn from two of the great minds in playwriting today. Their residency will include some exciting events including lectures, Q and As and master classes for the students and the San Marcos community.”

Christopher Durang won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play for his Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. This play also won Best Play from the New York Drama Critics Circle, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle, the Drama League Award and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award.

“Chris’s visit comes at the perfect time. In October we are producing his musical Adrift in Macao, a wonderfully clever parody of film noir movies. It is a very funny show, with a wonderful score [by Peter Melnick] that audiences will love,” said Department Chair John Fleming. “Then to have Chris available for Q&As after the Friday and Saturday performances is the kind of event that typically only happens in New York. To have it here, for our students and the community, is an incredible opportunity.”

Durang has a B.A. from Harvard College, and an M.F.A. in playwriting from Yale School of Drama, where he worked with some wonderfully talented fellow students like Sigourney Weaver, Albert Innaurato, Meryl Streep and Wendy Wasserstein. His plays include A History of the American Film (Tony nomination, Best Book of a Musical, 1978), The Actor’s Nightmare, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (Obie award; off-Bway run 1981-83), Beyond Therapy (on Broadway in 1982, with Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow), Baby with the Bathwater (Playwrights Horizons, 1983), The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Public Theatre, 1985; Obie award, Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award), Laughing Wild (Playwrights Horizons, 1987), Durang/Durang (an evening of six plays at Manhattan Theatre Club, 1994, including the Tennessee Williams parody, For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls), Sex and Longing (Lincoln Center Theatre production at the Cort Theatre, 1996, starring Sigourney Weaver and Dana Ivey), Betty’s Summer Vacation (Playwrights Horizons, 1999, Obie award), Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge (City Theatre in Pittsburgh in 2002) starring Kristine Nielsen, Adrift in Macao, a musical written with composer Peter Melncick, at Philadelphia Stage Company in 2005 and at Primary Stages in 2006; Miss Witherspoon (2005), which had a double premiere at McCarter Theatre and Playwrights Horizons, featured Nielsen again, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Why Torture is Wrong, and the People Who Loved Them (Public Theater, 2009), starring Laura Benanti and Nielsen (again!).

Durang has won various grants and honors including a Rockefeller, a Guggenheim, a Lila Wallace Playwriting award, the Sidney Kingsley playwriting award, the Harvard Arts Medal, and the 2008 William Inge Distinguished Achievement Award. Since 1994 he and Marsha Norman have been co-chairs of the Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild’s council and lives in Pennsylvania.

John Augustine's plays have been produced in New York City at the Zipper, HERE, Naked Angels, All Season's Theatre Group, Expanded Arts, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Miranda Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, and 59E59 Theaters. His anthology of 20 short plays, Augustine’s Confessions, is published by Playscripts.com He is also published in the short play anthologies Take Ten and The Best American Short Plays of 1993-94. His play PeopleSpeak is published in Shorter, Faster, Funnier. The New York Times wrote of this play, “PeopleSpeak (is) a witty and acerbic play that is the best of the Summer Shorts festival.” He and playwright, Willy Conley were commissioned by the National Theatre of the Deaf, to write OH! FIGARO! which toured the United States. For television, Augustine wrote for the Fox TV show Titus and for Encore! Encore! with Nathan Lane and Joan Plowright.

He has taught playwriting at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, the 42nd Street Collective and Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. He is a Revson Fellow in Playwriting, and a member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatists Guild, SAG and AEA.

“John Augustine is one of the funniest writers and performers I know,” said Hopkins. ”The students are going to learn so much from working on his plays.”

The Bowman Guest Artist Series at Texas State is made possible by a generous contribution by Mike and Dianne Bowman.

For more information about the Texas State production of Adrift in Macao please contact the Texas State Department of Theatre and Dance theatre office at (512) 245- 3660.