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John Lahr
John Lahr

FORMER SENIOR DRAMA CRITIC FOR THE NEW YORKER, TO DISCUSS HIS MAJOR NEW BIOGRAPHY OF PLAYWRIGHT TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

NYS Writers Institute, October 1, 2014

4:15 p.m. Seminar | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center, Uptown Campus

CALENDAR LISTING:
John Lahr, Senior Drama Critic for the New Yorker for two decades (1992-2012), will present his new biography, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (2014), “one of the finest critical biographies of a playwright extant” (New Republic), on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 8 p.m. in the Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will offer an informal seminar in the same location. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, and the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment.

 

PROFILE
John Lahr
has been called “probably the most intelligent and insightful writer on the theater today” (New York Times). Playwright Tony Kushner has said, “There’s never been an American critic like John Lahr. His writing exalts, honors, and dignifies the profession and, more importantly, the art.”

The son of Ziegfeld chorus girl Mildred Schroeder and Bert Lahr, the “Cowardly Lion” of The Wizard of Oz, John Lahr served as Senior Drama Critic for the New Yorker for two decades (1992 to 2012), and is a two-time winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. The author of seventeen books, Lahr also became the first drama critic to win a Tony Award for his 2001 collaboration on “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” a one-woman show performed by the late Elaine Stritch (1925-2014).

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of FleshLahr’s latest book is Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (2014), a new biography of the brilliant and troubled 20th century playwright. Robert Brustein of the New Republic called it, “A splendid book, one of the finest critical biographies of a playwright extant.” In advance praise, author Bill Bryson called it, “Splendid beyond words,” and said, “It would be hard to imagine a more satisfying biography.” Pulitzer-winning biographer Ron Chernow called it, “Unsurpassable…An eloquent, spellbinding narrative that emerges as an instant classic.” Dramatist John Guare said, “Tennessee Williams had two great pieces of luck:  Elia Kazan to direct his work and now John Lahr to make thrilling sense of his life.”

Lahr’s previous books on the theatre include Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilization (1991), Light Fantastic: Adventures in Theatre (1996), Show and Tell (2000) and Honky Tonk Parade (2005). His acclaimed biography of playwright Joe Orton, Prick Up Your Ears (1978) was adapted as a 1987 film directed by Stephen Frears and starring Gary Oldman. Lahr, who coproduced the film, was portrayed on screen by actor-playwright Wallace Shawn.

Notes on a Cowardly Lion
(1969), Lahr’s biography of his father, actor-comedian Bert Lahr, was republished in 2000 with a new preface by the author. Lahr is also the author of two novels, The Autograph Hound (1973) and Hot to Trot (1974).

Married to Connie Booth, who cowrote and costarred in the BBC comedy series Fawlty Towers with John Cleese, Lahr lives in London.

Previous Visit: April 16, 2002

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.