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 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
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?