Friday, October 13, 2023

40 Years of Broadway: Creative Influencers: 21 Playwrights

 40 Years of Broadway:
Creative Influencers: 21 Playwrights

Even with my somewhat limited exposure to plays over the past 40 years, I've enjoyed the works of a wide range of playwrights and book writers. They come from different eras, with different economic, ethnic, religious and sexual backgrounds. In short, they represent a pretty fair amount of diversity. As such, they gave voice to complex issues, celebrated our triumphs, criticized our faults, examined our beliefs, and questioned our choices. Their unique perspectives shed light on humanity.

This is a list of artists that had the biggest impact on my theater-going experience, and is not complete. Even as I write this, I can think of another dozen or more names. But I feel confident that these are a solid representation. Your mileage may vary.

The Masters

The names on this list were major playwrights well before the early to mid 1980s, but who still contributed new works and revivals. Their works influenced culture during their time and continue to do so today. I'm confident that far into the future, these writers will continue to be studied, performed, and revered. They will continue to influence generations of writers seeking new ways of human expression.

Edward Albee       Terrence McNally         Arthur Miller         

Neil Simon        August Wilson

The Contemporary Dramatists

Here is a group of writers who really came into their own over the past 40 years. They became reliable voices in the cultural conversation. Each had critical praise and their share of popular success. Perhaps just as importantly, they also had their failures, and they learned from those, emerging stronger. Most of these artists continue to create, and we are all the better for it - these are masters in the making.

Douglas Carter Beane        Harvey Fierstein        David Henry Hwang

Tony Kushner        James Lapine        Tracy Letts        Lynn Nottage

Suzan-Lori Parks    
    Yasmina Reza        Paula Vogel

New Voices

Finally, these are the current generation of writers who have already made a name for themselves. Their modern perspectives represent a new wave of style, themes and politics. We are all the richer for their diverse, important voices. And they are just getting started. We needn't worry about the future - it is very bright.

Jeremy O. Harris        Lucas Hnath        
Quiara Alegria Hudes

James Ijames        Stephen Karam        Matthew Lopez

Contest Question #14:
Which two of the above playwrights won Tony Awards for both their writing AND for acting?

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