The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

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

Richard Foreman

Richard Foreman

Founder of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Playwright, Director
Born on Thursday, June 10, 1937

Interviewed on: Friday, October 24, 2014
Location: His Home
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #17
"We…were making non-theatre-oriented theatre, but more art-oriented theatre."
Richard Foreman Highlights
Video Length: 5 Minutes, 43 Seconds
Richard Foreman Interview
Video Length: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes

Richard Foreman founded the avant-garde Ontological-Hysteric Theater at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery in 1992. He has written over 50 plays and some operas, such as: ANGELFACE (1968), ELEPHANT STEPS (1968), TOTAL RECALL (1970), HOTEL FOR CRIMINALS (1984), RHODA IN POTATOLAND (1975), WHAT DID HE SEE? (1988), IDIOT SAVANT (2009), and OLD-FASHIONED PROSTITUTES (A TRUE ROMANCE) (2013).  He has also directed many Off- Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway productions, including:  THE THREEPENNY OPERA (1977), DON JUAN (1982), THREE ACTS OF RECOGNITION (1982), THE GOLEM (1984), LARGO DESOLATO (1986), and VENUS (1996). In 1986, he was bestowed an OBIE Award for his direction of LARGO DESOLATO. He also won a Guggenheim Fellowship for Playwriting, an NEA Playwriting Fellowship, and the Edwin Booth Award for Theatrical Achievement.

Foreman grew up in upstate New York, traveling to Manhattan 45 times a year to see Broadway productions. During his formative years, he was an actor and a set designer. He decided to become a playwright and create plays that challenged the audience. In 2004, he established the Bridge Project with Sophie Haviland. The mission of the project was to promote an international art exchange between countries through workshops, symposiums, theatre productions, visual art, performance, and multimedia events. In 2005, the Ontological-Hysteric Theater created the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator. This group formalized its relationship with burgeoning artists, guiding projects from workshop to fully realized productions.

Mentioned in Interview

John Gassner, Kate Manheim, Jack Smith, Robert Wilson, La Monte Young, Michael Kahn, Tennessee Williams, Elia Kazan Arthur Sherman, Charles Ludlam, Stanley Silverman, Jack Smith, Maria Irene Fornes, Joseph Papp, The Bridge Project, Art Services, Theater for the New City, The Wooster Group, Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Ontological-Hysteric Incubator, St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, NYSF/The Public, New Dramatists, The Actors Studio, Film-Makers’ Cinematheque, Judson Poets Theater, The Living Theatre, TOTAL RECALL, ELEPHANT STEPS, THE THREEPENNY OPERA, RHODA IN POTATOLAND, HOTEL FOR CRIMINALS, DON JUAN, VENUS, IDIOT SAVANT, OLD-FASHIONED PROSTITUTES, LARGO DESOLATO, WHAT DID HE SEE?