The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

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

A.R. Gurney

A.R. Gurney

Playwright
Born on Saturday, November 1, 1930
Died on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Interviewed on: Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #65
Photo Credit: Walter Kurtz
"In most Off-Broadway venues there’s a place where the community can gather ahead of time and see itself as it walks into the theater, being ready to respond as a community."
A.R. Gurney Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 43 seconds
A.R. Gurney Interview Part 1
Video Length: 1 hour, 11 minutes
A.R. Gurney Interview Part 2
Video Length: 45 minutes, 44 seconds

A.R. “Pete” Gurney has been a playwright for over 50 years. His subject matter has been primarily the so-called “WASP” culture as it manifested itself in Buffalo, New York, but he has occasionally written about other subjects. He attended Williams College and helped write the spring musical after Stephen Sondheim, who had opened up the form, had graduated. Gurney became an officer in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and wrote and staged several musicals on the carrier FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, on which he served before being stationed in Japan. After the Navy, he attended the Yale School of Drama and wrote the books and lyrics for Love in Buffalo, the first musical produced there, as well as selling a television show and being published in “Best Short Plays.” In 1957, he married Mary Goodyear, also from Buffalo. To support and educate his four children, he taught in the Humanities Department at MIT, ultimately becoming a tenured professor there. After 25 years at MIT, he retired to write full-time. THE DINING ROOM, written in 1982, secured Gurney’s future as one of the most produced playwrights in America.

Gurney has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lucille Lortel Foundation, the Drama Desk, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Theatre Hall of Fame, and he has received the Laura Pels/PEN Award and, most recently, an OBIE Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Mentioned in Interview

Stephen Sondheim, Vera Miles, John Gassner, Harold Clurman, Daniel Sullivan, Actors’ Playhouse, Lincoln Center Theater, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, Signature Theatre, Astor Place Theater, Primary Stages, ANCESTRAL VOICES, LOVE LETTERS, ANOTHER ANTIGONE, THE DINING ROOM, SCENES FROM AMERICAN LIFE, THE GOLDEN FLEECE, THE DAVID SHOW, A CHEEVER EVENING, BUFFALO GAL, THE COCKTAIL HOUR, FAR EAST, THE FOURTH WALL, THE GOLDEN AGE, INDIAN BLOOD, THE MIDDLE AGES, SYLVIA, THE WAYSIDE MOTOR INN, WHAT I DID LAST SUMMER

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