Christopher Durang

Short Biography


photo by John Schisler
2002

 Christopher Durang is a playwright whose plays include A History of the American Film (Tony nomination, Best Book of a Musical, 1978), The Actor’s Nightmare, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (Obie award; off-Bway run 1981-83), Beyond Therapy (on Broadway in 1982, with Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow), Baby with the Bathwater (Playwrights Horizons, 1983), The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Public Theatre, 1985; Obie award, Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award), Laughing Wild (Playwrights Horizons, 1987), Durang/Durang (an evening of six plays at Manhattan Theatre Club, 1994, including the Tennessee Williams’ parody, For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls), Sex and Longing (Lincoln Center Theatre production at the Cort Theatre, 1996, starring Sigourney Weaver), and Betty’s Summer Vacation (Playwrights Horizons, 1999; Obie award). 

His most recent works are Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge, which premiered at City Theatre in Pittsburgh in 2002. And the musical Adrift in Macao, with music by Peter Melnick and book and lyrics by Durang, which premiered at New York Stage and Film in summer 2002, and is under option for off-Broadway 2003-04.

Durang is also a performer, and acted with E. Katherine Kerr in the N.Y. premiere of Laughing Wild, and with Jean Smart in the L.A. production. He shared in an acting ensemble Obie for The Marriage of Bette and Boo; and with John Augustine and Sherry Anderson has performed his crackpot cabaret Chris Durang and Dawne at the Criterion Center, Caroline’s Comedy Club, Williamstown Summer Cabaret, and the Triad, winning a 1996 Bistro Award.

In the early 80s, he and Sigourney Weaver co-wrote and performed in their acclaimed Brecht-Weill parody, Das Lusitania Songspiel, and were both nominated for Drama Desk awards for Best Performer in a Musical.

In 1993 he sang in the five person off-Broadway Sondheim revue, Putting It Together, with Julie Andrews at the Manhattan Theatre Club. And he played a singing Congressman in the Encores presentation of Call Me Madam with Tyne Daly at City Center.

In movies, he has appeared in The Secret of My Success, Mr. North, The Butcher’s Wife, Housesitter, and The Cowboy Way, among others.

He has a B.A. from Harvard College, and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Yale School of Drama.

In 1995 he won the prestigious three-year Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers Award; as part of his grant, he ran a writing workshop for adult children of alcoholics. In 2000 he won the Sidney Kingsley Playwriting Award. 

Grove Press publishes several of his plays. Smith and Kraus recently published two new collections: Christopher Durang: 27 Short Plays and Christopher Durang: Complete Full-Length Plays (1975-1995). Grove has recently published Betty’s Summer Vacation.

Since 1994 he has been co-chair with Marsha Norman of the Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School in Manhattan.

He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council. 

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