The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

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

Israel Horovitz

Israel Horovitz

Founder of the Gloucester Stage Company and New York Playwrights Lab, Playwright, Actor
Born on Friday, March 31, 1939

Interviewed on: Thursday, July 14, 2016
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #70
"I was 17 years old… I can remember thinking, ‘I wrote a play, I’m a playwright, I know who I am…’ From that day forward that’s simply been my identity."
Israel Horovitz Highlights
Video Length: 6 Minutes, 8 Seconds
Israel Horovitz Interview Part One
Video Length: 1 Hour, 36 Minutes
Israel Horovitz Interview Part Two
Video Length: 1 Hour, 10 Minutes

Born in Wakefield, Massachusetts, Israel Horovitz is a playwright, screenwriter, director, and actor. He is the Founding Artistic Director of Gloucester Stage Company and active Artistic Director of The New York Playwrights Lab. Horovitz has written more than 70 plays that have been performed Off-Broadway, many of which have also been translated and performed in as many as 30 languages, worldwide. He has worked with such well-known actors as Al Pacino and John Cazale in THE INDIAN WANTS THE BRONX (1968), Marsha Mason and Jill Clayburgh in IT’S CALLED THE SUGAR PLUM (1968), Richard Dreyfuss in ACROBATS & LINE (1971), Jason Robards and Judith Ivey in PARK YOUR CAR IN HARVARD YARD (1991), and, most recently, Judith Ivey and Estelle Parsons in OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES (2016).He has received several distinguished awards, including OBIE’s, a Drama Desk Award, a Prix de Plaisir du Theatre, a Prix du Jury (Cannes Film Festival), a Prix Italia (for radio plays), an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Elliot Norton Award, and many others. He often directs productions of his plays in France, where he is the most-produced American playwright in French theatre history. On his 70th birthday, Horovitz  was decorated by the French government as Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest honor for foreign writers.

After seeing A Raisin in the Sun as a teenager, Horovitz felt that plays could transport him to a place of privilege… to enter the lives of people he would otherwise never know. His first play, The Comeback, was written at age 17. He was playwright-in-residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company in England. He had lasting friendships with Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett. Horovitz’s screenplays include, among many others: The Strawberry Statement (1970), Believe in Me (1970), Author! Author! (1982), James Dean (2001), and My Old Lady (2014), whichhe also directed, starring Maggie Smith and Kevin Kline.

Mentioned in Interview

Lee Strasburg, Estelle Parsons, Robert Whitehead, James Hammerstein, Al Pacino, John Cazale, Marshall W. Mason, Jill Clayburgh, Richard Dreyfuss, Samuel Beckett, Thornton Wilder, New York Playwrights Lab, The Phoenix Theatre, La MaMa E.T.C., The New Comedy Theatre, MY OLD LADY, THE INDIAN WANTS THE BRONX, IT’S CALLED THE SUGAR PLUM, ACROBATS & LINE, THE PRIMARY ENGLISH CLASS,