If there is any question as to where our most significant theatre is coming from, a look at recent Pulitzer Prize winners ought to help clear it up. This year’s award to David Mamet for Glengarry Glen Ross marks the ninth consecutive drama prize that has gone to an author whose work was developed in the resident, nonprofit theatre. (Recent winners include Marsha Norman’s ‘night, Mother, first seen at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, and Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart, which debuted at the Actors Theatre of Louisville.) Since 1978, Mamet has been associate artistic director of Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, where Glengarry had its American premiere prior to its current Broadway run. It was there that the three-member Pulitzer committee saw and recommended it.
Glengarry is a fast-paced, pungent look into the world of fiercely competitive—and thoroughly shady—real state salesmen, and is characterized the kind of ensemble acting that is merging as a hallmark of both current theatre and film. The New York production marks Goodman artistic director Gregory Mosher’s Broadway directing debut, and features actors much more familiar to Windy City than New York audiences.
Other Mamet works include American Buffalo, A Life in the Theatre, The Water Engine, Edmond and screenplays for The Postman Always Rings Twice and The Verdict. In a television interview following the announcement of the award, Mamet quipped, “If you see only one play this year—see this one, too!”
Sweep for Campesino
El Teatro Campesino’s Corridos, an elaborate musical with an onstage Mexican band, won 11 Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards in April, and is scheduled to re-open this summer in Los Angeles. In addition to an overall musical production award, the show earned writing and directing awards for the group’s founder and artistic director Luis Valdez.
The Critics Circle also cited three outstanding dramatic productions: American Buffalo at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (guest directed by Milwaukee Repertory Theater artistic director John Dillon); Cloud 9 at Eureka Theatre; and Macbeth at Berkeley Shakespeare Festival. Original script awards went to Sam Shepard for Fool for Love, Robert Alexander and the San Francisco Mime Troupe for Secrets in the Sand, and Rick Foster for The Heroes of Xochiquita.
New directions in theatre awards were presented to George Coates Performance Works for are/are, Nighfire for Beauty Science, Gulf of the Farallones for Car Dances (performed in a factory parking lot), Nightletter Theatre for Mindfreight and Nina Wise and Lauren Elder for Collision.
‘Playboy’ in L.A.
South Coast Repertory’s production of The Playboy of the Western World and L.A. Stage Company’s Cloud 9 were the big winhers of the 1983 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards. Playboy won awards in all eight of the categories for which it was nominated, including distinguished production, direction (Martin Benson) and lead performance (Jeffrey Combs). Cloud 9 was also cited as a distinguished production, and won awards for direction (Don Amendolia), writing (Caryl Churchill) and ensemble performance.
Torch Song Trilogy, which is still playing at the Huntington Hartford Theatre, received awards for its playwright Harvey Fierstein and lead actor Donald Corren. Stephen Sondheim was recognized for his musical score to Merrily We Roll Along, produced at the Roland Dupree Studio. Sondheim’s music and lyrics provided a theme for the awards ceremony April 2 at L.A.’s Variety Arts Center. LADCC president Jack Viertel, a theatre critic for The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, hosted the event.
The Guggenheim Foundation has awarded theatre-related one-year fellowships to four playwrights, five performers and two authors writing scholarly works.
Playwrights David Henry Hwang, Larry Ketron and James Lapine and playwright-composer William Finn were among those awarded the fellowships, which average $19,500 each and may be spent in any way the recipient chooses. Ping Chong and Bill Irwin, both interdisciplinary theatre artists, won grants to create new works. Choreography fellowships went to Trisha Brown and to Eiko Otake Yamada and Takashi Koma Yamada, known as Eiko and Koma.
Walter J. Meserve of Indiana University was awarded a fellowship to research American dramatic literature from 1890 to 1915. Douglass Stott Parker of the University of Texas won a fellowship to make annotated verse translations of Aristophanes.
Nominations for the 1984 Tony Awards hadn’t been announced at press time, but it’s already certain that Painting Churches and And a Nightingale Sang… aren’t among them. Representatives of the two shows (which played at the Lamb’s Theatre and Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theatre, respectively) had petitioned the Tony administration committee for awards consideration, based on the argument that they are playing in the theatre district and paying Broadway salaries. The committee, however, stuck hard and fast to its 1982 ruling limiting eligibility to shows playing in theatres with 499 or more seats. Potential Tony candidates Tina Howe, author of Painting Churches, and Joan Allen, the star of Nightingale, had the most to lose.
New York has its Tonys and Chicago has its Joseph Jefferson Awards, and now Washington will have the Helen Hayes Awards. The citations, bronze medals with the likeness of Haves—a native Washingtonian—will be given out annually for outstanding work in the theatres. The nomination and selection process is still under development.
Jason Robards, Jr. is the winner of the National Arts Club’s 1984 medal of honor for drama and theatre. The prize was presented at a ceremony in New York during April.
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