The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

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

Richard Schechner

Richard Schechner

Founder of The Performance Group, Author, Director, Playwright, Professor
Born on Thursday, August 23, 1934

Interviewed on: Monday, December 14, 2015
Location: His Studio
Interviewed by: Martha Steketee
Interview #57
"I feel that theatre, rather than wresting permanence from the remorseless rush of time, surfs across life to discover how the waves of time, space, and individual and social lives continuously reshape experiences and knowledge."
Richard Schechner Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 12 seconds
Richard Schechner Interview Part One
Video Length: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Richard Schechner Interview Part Two
Video Length: 48 minutes, 55 seconds

Richard Schechner is an author, professor, playwright, director, and founder of The Performance Group and East Coast Artists—and before that, the New Orleans Group and the East End Players (of Provincetown). The Performance Group later became The Wooster Group. Schechner’s artistic career has been based in alternative/experimental theatre. Some of his directing credits include: DIONYSUS IN ‘69 (1968), Sam Shepard's THE TOOTH OF CRIME (1972), Bertolt Brecht's MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN (1975), David Gaard's THE MARILYN PROJECT (1975), Seneca’s OEDIPUS (1977), August Wilson's MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM (1992), Chekhov’s THE CHERRY ORCHARD (1983) and THREE SISTERS (1995), and his own IMAGINING O (2014). Schechner’s vigorous career as an artist and scholar earned him the American Theatre in Higher Education’s Lifetime Career Achievement Award, the Performance Studies International’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Association of Theatre Critics’ (IATC) Thalia Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and many other awards.

Schechner was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1934. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University, his Master’s from the University of Iowa, and his PhD from Tulane University. He is the editor of The Drama Review. Since 1967, Schechner has been a professor at New York University, where he was a founder of the Performance Studies Department in the Tisch School of the Arts. Schechner’s books have been translated into 17 languages.

Mentioned in Interview

Paul Schmidt, Eugene O’Neill, Federico Garcia Lorca, Mary Heaton Vorsee, Thurgood Marshall, TDR: The Drama Review, The Performance Group, The Wooster Group, The Performing Garage, La MaMa E.T.C., East Coast Artists, THREE SISTERS, DIONYSIS IN ‘69, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, BLOOD WEDDING, MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN, IMAGINING O