2010 Innovative Theatre Luminary: Christopher Durang 


Desmond Dutcher interviews Christopher Durang

On May 17th, at a special presentation prior to the IT Awards benefit, Cabaretion, the very first Innovative Theatre Luminary Award was presented to Playwright and Actor, Christopher Durang.

A luminary is someone who is an inspiration to others and has achieved eminence in their field.  There is no one who more truly embodies this distinction than Christopher Durang. As an OOB alumnus, he knows the challenges and limitations that face the artists working in this sector today. He is a dedicated actor and playwright who, while reaching great heights, has never forgotten his roots. He continues to be an inspiration to the artists working Off-Off-Broadway and a point of pride for our community.

Presenters John Augustine and Sherry Anderson, regaled the audience with stories of Durang's Off-Off-Broadway roots including Titanic (1974), The Nature And Purpose of the Universe (Direct Theatre in 1975) and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (Ensemble Studio Theatre in 1979). However, not only did Durang begin his career OOB, he also continues to return to OOB. His most recent foray into OOB was Not a Creature was Stirring, which was a part of short plays performed at the Flea Theatre in 2006. "He values this community, celebrates it and is himself inspired by the current generation of OOB artists" said Augustine, a long-time collaborator with Durang.

The trio (Augustine, Anderson and Durang) had graced the stage at Carolines together before with their musical comedy act, Chris Durang and Dawne. A spoof of the 70's group Tony Orlando and Dawn, the act also played the Criterion Center, The TRIAD and many other Off-Off-Broadway spots.

During his acceptance, Durang reflected on his days working OOB "my early work is very out there and rather crazy, and I think Off-Off is a welcoming place for that kind of theatre... the freedom was really wonderful." Perhaps more importantly he also reflected on the people and relationships that grew from his work, many of whom continue to be a part of his life and his enterprises. He looked for opportunities to cast actors that he loved and work with friends, including Yale Drama School classmate Sigourney Weaver, who he is quick to note, he cast before she was famous. He also noted the number of couples that found each other during his productions, including Sherry Anderson and her husband Jeff Brooks.

"Its funny because I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about those days" Durang said. "I am very flattered to win this.  It was very unexpected."

We are honored to be able to recognize Christopher Durang's contributions to the Off-Off-Broadway community and are so pleased that he is our very first Luminary Award recipient.


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