The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Christopher Durang

Christopher Durang

Playwright, Actor
Born on Sunday, January 2, 1949

Interviewed on: Friday, May 6, 2016
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #64
Photo Credit: Susan Johann
"’I Love Lucy’ was started in 1952…when I was in second grade. I suddenly announced… that I wanted to write a play, and what I wrote was very short… it was two pages and it was taking the characters of ‘I Love Lucy.’"
Christopher Durang Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 53 seconds
Christopher Durang Interview Part One
Video Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Christopher Durang Interview Part Two
Video Length: 1 hour, 7 minutes

Christopher Durang has had a career as a playwright and an actor since his graduation from the Yale School of Drama, where his first works were produced with the support of Dean Robert Brustein. Many of Durang’s plays have been influenced by his Catholic upbringing and his time at school during the Vietnam War. Durang’s Off-Broadway works include: THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF THE UNIVERSE (1975), A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN FILM (1978 Tony Award nomination), SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL TO YOU (1980, OBIE Award), THE MARRIAGE OF BETTE AND BOO (1985, OBIE Award), BETTY’S SUMMER VACATION (1999, OBIE Award), BEYOND THERAPY (1981), and VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE (2013 Tony Award). MISS WITHERSPOON was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in 2006. He has also written for television.

Durang is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council. He has been awarded many fellowships and prizes, including a Guggenheim, a Rockefeller, the CBS Playwriting Fellowship, and the Lecomte du Nouy Foundation Grant. In 1994, he joined Marsha Norman to head the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School of Drama. In 1995, he won the three-year Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers Award; as part of his grant, he ran a writing workshop for adult children of alcoholics. He and Kathleen Chalfant won the 1999 Madge Evans and Sidney Kingsley Award (given to an actress and a playwright). In 2001, he won an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Durang was awarded the Harvard Arts Medal in 2006; he was also the Honoree of the 27th William Inge Theatre Festival. In 2010, he was presented with the very first Luminary Award from the New York Innovative Theatre Awards for his work Off-Off-Broadway. In 2012, Durang won the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for Master American Dramatist; in the same year, he was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. In 2013, he received the Legend of Off-Broadway Award from the Off-Broadway Alliance.

Mentioned in Interview

Jerry Zaks, Kristine Nielsen, Robert Brustein, The Direct Theater, Yale Repertory Theater, Ensemble Studio Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center Theater, Primary Stages, NYSF/The Public, BEYOND THERAPY, SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL TO YOU, VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, MISS WITHERSPOON