Playwriting Bios

A Better Class of Person: An Autobiography 1929-1956
by John Osborne
From the author of “Look Back in Anger, “Luther,” “Inadmissible Evidence” and many other contemporary standards. It had been years since Osborne’s plays had received a sympathetic hearing when he wrote his autobiography, and yet it was received as one of the best of its kind. See the second volume, “Almost a Gentleman,” below.
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Acting Up
by David Hare
After writing a monologue on the subject of Israel and Palestine, David Hare forced himself to make his debut on the stage at the age of fifty-one in Via Dolorosa. When his success at London’s austere Royal Court Theatre led to an invitation to appear in New York at a somewhat flashier Broadway venue, Hare was transformed from a shadowy playwright into an actor alone on the stage every night for ninety minutes. Hare’s hilarious diary of his experiences on both sides of the Atlantic tells of his difficulties in coming to terms with his frightening change of career, but also grapples with more serious questions about what the difference is between acting and performance, and whether anyone can learn to do either. “A brilliant piece of reportage about Hare’s journey to the Middle East and a cunningly shaped work of art . . . A deeply moving theatrical mosaic.” -The Guardian
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Acts of Courage: Vaclav Havel’s Life in the Theater
by Carol Rocamora
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Act One: An Autobiography
by Moss Hart
Amazon. com Expert Editor’s Recommended Book: Moss Hart was in the thick of American theater when everyone wore black tie on opening night and the world’s most witty people entertained each other around a grand piano at late-night supper parties. It’s an era of glamour that will never come again, but we have Hart’s words on paper, and that is no small thing. A renowned director and theatrical collaborator, the brilliant Hart died too soon after the curtain went up on Act Two. If you want to know what it was like to be on the inside track in NYC in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, here’s a good place to find out.
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A Likely Story: One Summer With Lillian Hellman
by Rosemary Mahoney In the 1970s, many a precocious American teenager weaned herself on Lillian Hellman’s “An Unfinished Woman,” “Pentimento,” and “Scoundrel Time.” So what if the author didn’t look like her onscreen alter ego, Jane Fonda, in Julia. Few, of course, would have dared to act on their obsession. But Rosemary Mahoney did, telling the chain-smoking, hard-drinking Hellman that she would love to work for her on Martha’s Vineyard “in any capacity.” Who better to toil for than a star who “glorified bad moods, gave them a glamorous edge, brought them to the level of art” — or so the 17-year-old thought. In a fairy-tale-like development, Hellman took Mahoney on as her part-time housekeeper. But the fairy tale was almost instantly to end, and a more complex saga of innocence, experience, and class to begin. A Likely Story is a cautionary tale about adoration and celebrity from one of our more gifted journalists–each scene literally leaps off the page, fraught with emotion recollected not entirely in tranquillity. The New York Times: …[an] endlessly fascinating book…. [I]t was Hellman’s self-destructive misjudgment to hire a valet with a fierce sense of morality, an exquisite eye for detail, a sharp eye for character, a fanciful way with words and a long memory.”
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Alan Ayckbourn: Grinning at the Edge
by Paul Allen
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Alan Jay Lerner: A Biography
by Edward Jablonski
Lerner’s brilliance as a lyricist (“My Fair Lady,” “Camelot”) sometimes overshadowed his great strengths as a dramatist, but this intelligent, lucid book gives due credit to both.
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Browse amazon’s collection of Alan Jay Lerner CDs and mp3s

Almost a Gentleman: An Autobiography: 1955-1966
by John Osborne
The second volume of Osborne’s fine memoir, covering the post-“Look Back in Anger” period. (See also “A Better Class of Person” above.)
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Arthur Miller in Conversation
by Steve Centola, Arthur Miller
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Bernard Shaw: The One-Volume Definitive Edition
by Michael Holroyd
When Michael Holroyd published the first part of his masterful, four-volume biography of George Bernard Shaw in 1988, the New York Times declared that “there should be no need for another biography of him for perhaps a century….” This single-volume edition of “Bernard Shaw” offers readers a concise version of the longer work that is both rich in detail and manageable in size.
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Bernard Shaw Theatrics: Selected Correspondence of Bernard Shaw
by Dan H. Laurence (Editor)
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Best Revenge: How Theater Saved My Life and Has Been Killing Me Ever Since — With Appearances by Joseph Chaikin, Sholem Asch, and Sam Shepard
by Stephen Fife
A middle-aged playwright–in conflict with his ex-wife, his current girlfriend, and a legion of creditors–journeys from Hollywood to Atlanta to work with his youthful idol, legendary avant-garde director Joseph Chaikin. Thus begins a roller coaster ride of a very unusual sort, combining personal revelations with theatrical obsessions, a step-by-step disclosure of a master director’s rehearsal process with a search for spiritual truth (and a decent night’s sleep). Just hop aboard and get a backstage pass to the “holding-on-by-your-fingernails” reality of the contemporary American theater.
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Beth Henley: A Casebook (Casebooks on Modern Dramatists)
by Julia A. Fesmire (Editor)
Beth Henley was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play for her first full-length play, Crimes of the Heart, yet there has been no book-length consideration of her body of work until now. This volume includes original essays that contextualize and analyze her works from a variety of perspectives, focusing on her vexed status as a southern writer, her use of the comic grotesque, and her alleged feminist critiques of modern society. Receiving special attention are lesser-known plays which are crucial to understanding Henley’s development as a playwright and postmodern thinker.
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Clifford Odets and American Political Theatre
by Christopher J. Herr
Clifford Odets, one of the 20th century’s leading American playwrights, was a fervent believer in democracy and the human ability to overcome obstacles. Yet his legacy has been overshadowed by persistent attempts to read him as a thoroughly political playwright. This new consideration reads his career–the work itself and the conditions of its invention–as cultural creations in a time of political, social, and economic change.
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Clinging to the Iceberg: Writing for a Living on the Stage and in Hollywood
by Ron Hutchinson
Wickedly funny, insightful, often absurd but always true, Clinging to the Iceberg explores the inner workings of the business of writing for hire. It’s written by someone whose career has spanned over forty years on stage and on screen, including thirty lucrative and sometimes uproarious ones in Hollywood. Genuinely laugh-out-loud, it will astound and inspire and along the way reveal the REAL tricks of the dialogue writers’ trade.
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The Cold War Romance of Lillian Hellman and John Melby
by Robert P. Newman
Melby was fired from the State Department because of his affair with Hellman, and because he would not repudiate her. Based on Hellman and Melby letters, FBI and Passport Office files, Melby’s hearing transcripts, and the files of Hellman’s lawyer, this book recounts a love affair that was aborted and then revived by the Cold War.
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Cole Porter: A Biography
by William McBrien
Biographer William McBrien gets under Cole Porter’s skin in this exquisitely detailed account of Broadway’s beloved songwriter. Gerald Murphy, Dean Acheson, Fred Astaire, and Ethel Merman are among the vivid cast of supporting characters Porter encountered during his high-society youth, his time spent living abroad among the Frenchmen, and his years as the toast of Broadway.
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Conversations With Miller
by Mel Gussow
Conversations with Miller offers a personal and revealing account of one of the major playwrights of our time. Arthur Miller is revealed in deep and candid conversation with the highly regarded dramatic critic, Mel Gussow. In this series of interviews, which took place over 40 years, Miller is astonishingly forthcoming about his creative sources, his accomplishments and his disappointment; about his staunch resistance to the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950’s; about his private life including his five-year marriage to Marilyn Monroe. The result is an intimate portrait of a cultural giant who is both refreshingly down to earth and a fiercely original writer and thinker.
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Conversations With Pinter
by Harold Pinter, Mel Gussow
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Conversations With Stoppard
by Tom Stoppard, Mel Gussow
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David Mamet: A Life in the Theatre
By Ira Nadel
“Nadel aims high….synching up the full range of Mamet’s work with his closely guarded personal affairs. It helps that the raw material on both counts is memorably vivid.” — The New York Times Book Review
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Dear Writer, Dear Actress: The Love Letters of Olga Knipper and
Anton Chekhov

by Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Olga Knipper, Jean Benedetti
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Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked
by Carol de Giere
Takes readers into the creative world of Broadway and film composer Stephen Schwartz, from writing “Godspell”‘s score at age 23 through the making of the megahit “Wicked.” De Giere’s sympathetic yet frank narrative reveals never-before-told stories and explores both Schwartz’s phenomenal hits and expensive flops. The book also includes a series of “Creativity Notes” with insights about artistic life, and more than 200 photographs and illustrations. “‘Defying Gravity,’ which takes its name from the Act 1 closer in “Wicked,” is not just a he-did-this-then-he-did-this biography: de Giere reconstructs the collaborative process that brought Schwartz’s works to the Great White Way.” — The Journal News. “A wonderful read. And the “Wicked” section provides a comprehensive account of a thoroughly recondite and even mysterious event: the gestation and birth of a phenomenon.” — Gregory Maguire, author of “Wicked” (the novel).
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Buy the “Wicked” Original Broadway Cast Recording: DVD: Further info or to order or MP3 download: Further info or to order

Diary of a Mad Playwright
by James Kirkwood
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Edward Albee: A Singular Journey
by Mel Gussow
The New York Times Book Review: “…a riveting biography…. His candor about his private and professional life is often amazing…”
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Elia Kazan: A Life
by Elia Kazan
The tumult of Kazan’s life, which encompassed directing great plays and films (“A Streetcar Named Desire,” “On the Waterfront”), naming names before the HUAC committee, and later life as a novelist, is fully captured in this prolix but fascinating autobiography.
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Eugene O’Neill’s Last Plays: Separating Art From Autobiography
by Doris Alexander
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Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood
by Horton Foote The marvelous second chapter of Farewell sets the mood for everything to come in the noted playwright’s memoir of his childhood in tiny Wharton, Texas. As a young Horton Foote questions his parents about their “elopement” — they had to go five blocks across town to be wed by a Baptist minister because his mother’s Methodist parents didn’t approve of the match — the intricate web of kinship, friendship, and local geography that shapes small-town life is hilariously yet touchingly revealed.
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Fat Chance
by Simon Gray
Gray’s mordantly funny account of the disastrous premiere of “Cell Mates.”
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Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes
by Stephen Sondheim
Along with the lyrics for all of his musicals from 1954 to 1981 — including “West Side Story,” “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music” and “Sweeney Todd” — Sondheim treats us to never-before-published songs from each show, songs that were cut or discarded before seeing the light of day. He discusses his relationship with his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and his collaborations with extraordinary talents such as Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Ethel Merman, Richard Rodgers, Angela Lansbury, Harold Prince and a panoply of others. Best of all, Sondheim appraises his work and dissects his lyrics, as well as those of others, offering unparalleled insights into songwriting that will be studied by fans and aspiring songwriters for years to come. Accompanying Sondheim’s sparkling writing are behind-the-scenes photographs from each production, along with handwritten music and lyrics from the songwriter’s personal collection. “There is so much to be learned and appreciated from ‘Finishing the Hat.’ It’s filled with fascinating, entertaining, unique and compelling lessons from a man who encompasses the essence of what is truly great about American Musical Theatre.” –Michael Feinstein
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See also “Look, I Made a Hat”
Or browse Amazon’s selection of Sondheim CDs and DVDs

Frank McGuinness and His Theatre of Paradox
by Hiroko Mikami
Frank McGuinness and his Theatre of Paradox is a critical study of one of the most important contemporary Irish dramatists. It offers an overview of McGuinness’s drama from his early plays right up to the recent Dolly West’s Kitchen.
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Free Association: An Autobiography
by Steven Berkoff
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Ghost Light: A Memoir
by Frank Rich When Frank Rich was an anxious, unhappy kid marooned in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., the fact his parents were divorced was discussed “only in the whisper that Grandma Ross used when talking about being Jewish or having cancer.” Like so many others who feel painfully different, Frank found refuge in the theater, particularly the classic musicals of Broadway’s golden age. After an enchanted trip to see Bells Are Ringing in 1956 when he was 7, Rich writes, “I was now destined to trace my childhood almost exclusively through an accelerating progression of plays, good and bad, that would captivate and kidnap me.” What interests him most here is the theater’s power to shape lives.
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Hellman in Hollywood
by Bernard F. Dick
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Horton Foote: America’s Storyteller
Wilborn Hampton
No playwright in the history of the American theater has captured the soul of the nation more incisively than Horton Foote. He has long been regarded by other playwrights and screenwriters, actors, and cognoscenti of the theater and cinema as America’s master storyteller; critics compared him to William Faulkner and Anton Chekhov. Yet Foote’s compelling character and rich life remain largely unknown to the general public. His is the story of an artist who refused to compromise his talents for the sake of fame or money, or just to keep working — who insisted on writing what he regarded as truth, even when for many years almost no one would listen.
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I Ain’t Sorry for Nothin I Done: August Wilson’s Process of

by Joan Herrington
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In Their Own Words: Contemporary American Playwrights
by David Savran
Includes interviews with Christopher Durang, John Guare, Maria Irene Fornes, Wallace Shawn, Marsha Norman, and many others.
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Joe Papp: An American Life
by Helen Epstein
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Joseph Chaikin & Sam Shepard: Letters and Texts, 1972-1984
by Joseph Chaikin, Sam Shepard, Barry Daniels (Editor), Joseph Chiakin
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Kenneth Tynan: Letters
by Kenneth Tynan, Kathleen Tynan
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Lorenz Hart: A Poet on Broadway
by Frederick Nolan
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Laughing Matters: On Writing M*A*S*H, Tootsie, Oh, God!, and a Few Other Funny Things
by Larry Gelbart
The comic genius who developed the “MASH” series for TV, wrote much of (Sid) “Ceasar’s Hour,” co-authored hit plays such as “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and the popular movies “Tootsie” and “Oh God!” tells readers how these projects — and he — came into being.
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Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes and Miscellany
by Stephen Sondheim
Picking up where he left off in “Finishing the Hat,” Stephen Sondheim gives us all the lyrics, along with excluded songs and early drafts, of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Into the Woods,” “Assassins” and “Passion.” Here, too, is an in-depth look at the evolution of “Wise Guys,” which subsequently was transformed into “Bounce” and eventually became “Road Show.” As he did in the previous volume, Sondheim richly annotates his lyrics with invaluable advice on songwriting, discussions of theater history and the state of the industry today, and exacting dissections of his work, both the successes and the failures. Filled with even more behind-the-scenes photographs and illustrations from Sondheim’s original manuscripts, “Look, I Made a Hat” is fascinating, devourable and essential reading for any fan of the theater or this great man’s work.”
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See also “Finishing the Hat”
Or browse Amazon’s selection of Sondheim CDs and DVDs

Make-Believe Town: Essays and Remembrances
by David Mamet Books: Mamet’s second miscellaneous collection of 24 essays (after “The Cabin”) again gives a lively scattershot view of his concerns and obsessions: sketches of friends; a memoir of child abuse; an essay on anti-semitism; thoughts on an early job writing pornography captions; much about the theater, including his beginnings on Broadway. Definitely a clue to the mind behind the dramatic art.
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Making It Big: The Diary of a Broadway Musical
by Barbara Isenberg
The musical “Big” never did really make it big, but that makes this chronicle of its creation all the more valuable. This is the way a show headed for Broadway really works — or, on some nights, doesn’t.
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Making Theatre: A Life of Sharon Pollock
By Sherrill Grace
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Moose Murdered: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Broadway Bomb
by Arthur Bicknell
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Must You Go?: My Life With Harold Pinter
By Lady Antonia Fraser
A moving and exquisite testament to one of the literary world’s most celebrated marriages: that of the greatest playwright of our age, Harold Pinter, and the beautiful and famous prize-winning biographer Antonia Fraser. Based on Fraser’s recollections and the diaries she has kept since October 1968, “Must You Go?” is the story of a 30-year marriage, beginning with their initial meeting when Fraser was the wife of a member of Parliament and Pinter was married to a distinguished actress, and ending with Harold’s tragic death after battling illness for many years. Courageous, powerful, and extraordinarily compelling, “Must You Go?” is a love story and a marvelously insightful account of the pleasures of married love. “A stirring celebration of what Fraser, reflecting near the end of Pinter’s life, observed as a union ‘to the infinite degree happy beyond all possible expectations.'” — The New Yorker
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My First Seven Years (Plus a Few More): A Memoir
by Dario Fo (Author), Joseph Farrell (Translator)
An extraordinary coming-of-age memoir by the Nobel-Prize-winning playwright. My First Seven Years is Dario Fo’s fantastic, enchanting memoir of his youth spent in Northern Italy on the shores of Lago Maggiore. As a child, Fo grew up in a picturesque village teeming with glass-blowers, smugglers and storytellers. Of his teenage years, Fo recounts the struggles of the Fascists and Partisans, the years of World War II, and his own tragicomic experience trying to desert the Fascist army. In a series of colorful vignettes, Fo draws us into a remarkable early life filled with characters and anecdotes that would become the inspiration for his own creative genius.
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My Life With Noel Coward
by Barry Day, Graham Payn
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O’Neill: Life With Monte Cristo
by Arthur Gelb, Barbara Gelb If at first you don’t succeed… well, actually, Arthur and Barbara Gelb’s 1962 book about Eugene O’Neill was a resounding success by any measure; for years, theirs was the definitive account of the Nobel Prize-winning playwright and his work. Far from resting on their laurels, however, the Gelbs spent the next 38 years continuing their research, interviewing O’Neill’s family and friends and digging up new sources of information. Now they’ve produced O’Neill: Life with Monte Cristo, both a rewrite of their 1962 biography and a major literary event in its own right.
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Original Story By: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood
by Arthur Laurents Best known as the author of scripts for such hit musicals as West Side Story and Gypsy, Arthur Laurents began his career writing strong, socially conscious plays like Home of the Brave and Time of the Cuckoo; he also has impressive credits as a screenwriter (The Way We Were) and stage director (La Cage aux Folles). Such a varied professional life makes for absorbing reading in this lively autobiography stuffed with famous names, including George Cukor, Katharine Hepburn, Barbra Streisand, and Stephen Sondheim, all of whom emerge vividly in thumbnail portraits ranging from affectionately frank (Stella Adler) to frankly unflattering (Jerome Robbins).
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The Paris Review
Edited by George Plimpton
Volume 141
This international literary quarterly celebrates its 40th anniversary with interviews on the craft of writing with two of America’s premier playwrights, David Mamet and Wendy Wasserstein.
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Peggy: The Life of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent
by Colin Chambers
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Peggy to her Playwrights: The Letters of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent
by Colin Chambers and Peggy Ramsay
Peggy Ramsay (1908-1991) was the foremost play agent of her time. Her list of clients shows her to have been at the centre of British playwriting for several generations from the late 1950s on. To her remarkable array of clients, her letter writing was notorious, marked by searing candour, both a wondrous motivation and an unforgiving scrutiny to be feared. “Peggy judged by the most exalted standards and lashed her writers when they failed to meet them. Her force of personality made her well-nigh irresistible. The letters she wrote to her writers and to producers are extraordinary documents, filled with all these qualities, and indiscreet, blasphemous and saucy to boot.” – Simon Callow
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People Who Led to My Plays
by Adrienne Kennedy
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Pinter in the Theatre
by Ian Smith
Eight actors and directors who have worked with Pinter in the theatre talk candidly about what it’s like to appear in a Pinter play, to direct a Pinter play, to be directed by Pinter, to work alongside Pinter as an actor. But before that come six interviews with Pinter himself — ranging from the earliest ever in 1960, when Pinter was 29, through the box-office successes of the seventies and the political plays of the eighties up to an extensive 1996 interview surveying the whole gamut of his work. Also included is an interview with Peter Hall, who has directed the premieres of several of Pinter’s best-known plays including The Homecoming and Old Times.
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Playwright’s Voice
by David Savran (Editor)
Representing the range and diversity of the American theatre today, the major American playwrights interviewed by Savran discuss their work, influences, and their craft.
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Present Indicative: The First Autobiography of Noel Coward
by Noel Coward
“I was photographed naked on a cushion very early in life, an insane, toothless smile slitting my face and pleats of fat overlapping me like an ill-fitting overcoat.” Thus begins the life story of one of the most celebrated characters in British theatrical history, in the first of Coward’s autobiographies, first published in 1937. Displaying an early dedication to the theatre, Present Indicative hints at the success that would come to Coward as actor, playwright, novelist and performer. Each line is punctuated with his trademark effervescent wit, making this book a comic tour de force in its own right, as well as a “must read” for anyone with an interest in the British stage.
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Put on a Happy Face: A Broadway Memoir
By Charles Strouse
Strouse is best-known for having written the music for the Broadway hits Bye Bye Birdie and Annie, both somewhat lightweight shows — the first, a lighthearted look at teen life, circa 1960; the other, a singing-dancing version of the classic comic strip Little Orphan Annie. Yet both have grace and power that haven’t diminished over the years. The same may come to be said of this lively, highly readable memoir. Even Strouse’s two much-publicized Broadway flops, Nick and Nora and Dance a Little Closer (speciously aka Close a Little Faster), are handled with aplomb. One finishes the book utterly charmed by the man and his wit.
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The Rest of the Story: A Life Completed
by Arthur Laurents (Author), David Saint (Editor)
Arthur Laurents (1917-2011) was a playwright, screenwriter, and director. He was nominated for six Tony Awards and won two. He is the author of The Way We Were, Mainly on Directing, and Original Story By. David Saint collaborated with Arthur Laurents at the George Street Playhouse, where he is artistic director.
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Rewrites: A Memoir
by Neil Simon Expert Editor’s Recommended Book: Broadway’s perennial hitmaster Neil Simon, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Lost in Yonkers, follows the funny/poignant style of his recent autobiographical plays. This memoir takes him from childhood into his years as a comedy writer for Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” through his early Odd Couple-era stage hits and up to the death of his first wife in 1973. Not a traditional autobiography, Rewrites is a story rich with laughter and emotion, and filled with memories of a sweet — sometimes bittersweet–story.
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Sam Shepard: A Life
by John J. Winters
With more than 55 plays to his credit, including the 1979 Pulitzer Prize–winning Buried Child, as well as an Oscar nod for his portrayal of Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff and an onscreen persona that’s been aptly summed up as “Gary Cooper in denim,” Sam Shepard’s impact on American theater and film is indelible. This masterful new biography gets to the heart of Sam Shepard, presenting a compelling and comprehensive account of his life and work. In a new epilogue, added by the author after Shepard’s untimely death in July of 2017, John J. Winters offers a glimpse into the enigmatic author’s last days, when very few knew he was suffering from ALS. “First-time biographer Winters, a journalist and critic, meticulously presents the facts of Shepard’s complex life along with incisive descriptions and analyses of diverse productions of Shepard’s demanding and innovative plays … Ultimately, Winters portrays Shepard as a magnetic, enigmatic, and multitalented artist drawing on a deep well of loneliness and self-questioning, keen attunement to the zeitgeist, and penetrating insight into human nature.” –Booklist (starred review)
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The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway
by William Goldman
Playwright/novelist/screenwriter Goldman’s classic chronicle of the 1967-68 Broadway season, from the perspective of the audiences, playwrights, critics, producers and actors. “Very nearly perfect . . . a loose-limbed, gossipy, insider, savvy, nuts-and-bolts report on the annual search for the winning numbers that is now big-time American commercial theatre.” — The New York Times
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Shakespeare: A Life
by Park Honan
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by Martha Swope (Photographer), Martin Gottfried
Stephen Sondheim musicals are among the most popular and critically acclaimed Broadway shows of recent times. This profusely illustrated volume tells the complete story of Sondheim’s remarkable career. The text is accompanied by 100 photographs, half in full color, from Sondheim’s personal files and from the Lincoln Center archives.
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Speak Well of Me: The Authorised Biography of Ronald Harwood
by W. Sydney Robinson
Ronald Harwood is one of the foremost playwrights and screenplay writers alive today. He has won an Oscar for his adaptation of The Pianist, a BAFTA for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and has been celebrated in the theatre for his classic play, The Dresser, which has been adapted for both television and cinema – most recently in a BBC production starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins. His life has been one of adventure and achievement. Speak Well of Me is based on a series of interviews with Ronald Harwood, as well as extensive study of his press-cuttings and personal papers. Many of his contemporaries, including Tom Stoppard, Arnold Wesker, Antonia Fraser, Tom Courtenay and Antony Sher have also shared their memories with the author.
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Spectator: Talk About Movies and Plays With Those Who Made Them
by Studs Terkel, Garry Wills In earlier oral histories such as Working, The Good War, and Hard Times, Studs Terkel showed a virtuoso talent for absorbing the small talk of regular Joes and Janes and turning it into a literary cross-hatch — Robert Browning and Herodotus, Margaret Mead and Steinbeck. It turns out all this was prologue. In The Spectator, Terkel reveals that if he loved the waitresses and hockey players of earlier books, it wasn’t “the way, nor to the same degree, as those in the world of the lively arts.” Reading The Spectator, you marvel once again at Terkel’s facility with people of all kinds–and his deep familiarity with the American century.
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State of Play: Playwrights on Playwriting
by David Edgar (Introduction), Phyllis Nagy (Afterword)
A new annual journal of the theater, this premiere issue of State of Play concentrates on contemporary British playwrights and their view of their craft. Includes contributions from such playwrights as Mark Ravenhill, Winsome Pinnock, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Conor McPherson, Sebastian Barry, and Christopher Hampton. An Afterword by American playwright Phyllis Nagy traces a different line of playwriting antecedents, adding another viewpoint to a continuing conversation about theater.
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Stephen Sondheim: A Life
by Meryle Secrest review: America’s foremost musical-theater composer also proves to be a fascinatingly complex and conflicted human being in this meticulous biography by the always capable Meryle Secrest. Stephen Sondheim himself was interviewed for the book, as were many of his closest friends, and the author makes perceptive use of this material. Sondheim the man and Sondheim the visionary artist get nearly equal time in an intriguing portrait.
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Style and Its Origins
by Howard Barker
Howard Barker’s alter-ego Eduardo Houth first materialized as the photographer of publicity images for Barker’s theatre company The Wrestling School, one among many fictional identities assumed by him to screen a range of his activities, including set and costume design. Writing about himself in the third person and in the past tense, the result is a unique exercise in self-description.
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Susan Glaspell: A Life
by Linda Ben-Zvi
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Susan Glaspell and Sophie Treadwell: American Modernist Women Dramatists (Routledge Modern and Contemporary Dramatists)
by Barbara Ozieblo
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Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh
by John Lahr
Lahr has produced a theater biography like no other. “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” gives intimate access to the mind of one of the most brilliant dramatists of his century, whose plays reshaped the American theater and the nation’s sense of itself. This astute, deeply researched biography sheds a light on Tennessee Williams’s warring family, his guilt, his creative triumphs and failures, his sexuality and numerous affairs, his misreported death, even the shenanigans surrounding his estate. The portrait of Williams himself is unforgettable: a virgin until he was twenty-six, he had serial homosexual affairs thereafter as well as long-time, bruising relationships with Pancho Gonzalez and Frank Merlo. With compassion and verve, Lahr explores how Williams’s relationships informed his work and how the resulting success brought turmoil to his personal life.
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Terence Rattigan: A Biography
by Geoffrey Wansell
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The Play Goes On: A Memoir
by Neil Simon
The follow-up to Simon’s bestselling memoir, “Rewrites.”
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Timebends: A Life
by Arthur Miller
A superb memoir. Miller deftly weaves his past and present together, to create a reading experience as rich and satisfyingly complex as his best plays.
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To Be Young, Gifted and Black
by Lorraine Hansberry
In her first play, the now-classic “A Raisin in the Sun,” Hansberry introduced the lives of ordinary African Americans into our national theatrical repertory. Now, Hansberry tells her own life story in an autobiography that rings with the voice of its creator. “Brilliantly alive.” –The New York Times.
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Tom Stoppard: A Life
by Ira Bruce Nadel
Tom Stoppard is, arguably, the greatest living English playwright. His work, from the early Jumpers to the film Shakespeare in Love to the current Invention of Love has changed the landscape of drama. Witty, erudite, passionate, abstract, clever, his works are like no one else’s. Who is Tom Stoppard-the Czech-born son of Jews who became the singularly English man of letters? In this vibrant, critical portrait, Ira Nadel weaves life and works into a fascinating chronicle of Stoppard’s world on English and American stages. Peopled with such characters as Diana Rigg, John Wood, and Billy Crudup, the book untangles Stoppard’s genius against the backdrop of Broadway and London’s West End.
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Tom Stoppard in Conversation
by Tom Stoppard, Paul Delandy (Editor), Paul Delaney
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Tony Kushner in Conversation
by Tony Kushner, Robert Vorlicky
The author of “Angels in America” speaks.
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We Must Love One Another or Die: The Life and Legacies of Larry

by Lawrence Mass
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Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein
by Julie Salamon
In Wendy and the Lost Boys, bestselling author Julie Salamon explores the life of playwright Wendy Wasserstein’s most expertly crafted character: herself. The first woman playwright to win a Tony Award, Wendy Wasserstein was a Broadway titan. But with her high-pitched giggle and unkempt curls, she projected an image of warmth and familiarity. Everyone knew Wendy Wasserstein. Or thought they did. “Top-notch … a penetrating biography. The book, less a literary reckoning with Wasserstein’s legacy than a frank character study, is superbly paced. [T]he work unfolds with an alacrity that had me fearing the end not just because it was such a tartly compelling read but because it’s still so hard to accept a theatrical world without Wasserstein around to make it seem so much more magical.” — The Los Angeles Times
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Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
by Stephen Greenblatt
Stephen Greenblatt, the charismatic Harvard professor who “knows more about Shakespeare than Ben Jonson or the Dark Lady did” (John Leonard, Harper’s), has written a biography that enables us to see, hear, and feel how an acutely sensitive and talented boy, surrounded by the rich tapestry of Elizabethan life — full of drama and pageantry, and also cruelty and danger — could have become the world’s greatest playwright. Bringing together little-known historical facts and little-noticed elements of Shakespeare’s plays, Greenblatt makes inspired connections between the life and the works and delivers “a dazzling and subtle biography” (Richard Lacayo, Time). Readers will experience Shakespeare’s vital plays again as if for the first time, but with greater understanding and appreciation of their extraordinary depth and humanity.
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Writing Home
by Alan Bennett
Sweet, quietly wicked collection of essays and musings from the author of “Talking Heads,” “The Madness of King George,” “The Old Country,” and many other plays. Includes the drily hilarious diary of Bennett’s years-long relationship with the homeless woman who set up camp in his driveway.
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