Fellow: Awarded 1985
Field of Study: Drama and Performance Art
Competition: US & Canada
Shirley Lauro is currently publishing the anthology Front Lines: Political Plays by American Women, edited with Alexis Greene, to be released by The New Press in June 2009. In 2008, Ms. Lauro received an Ensemble Studio Theater Sloan Foundation Commission for her new work What Cost the Moon: Madame Curie’s Private Life. She also first presented her play “aka” at The Actor’s Studio in New York City the same year.
Her recent play, All Through the Night, opened its world premiere production at the Chicago Jewish Theatre on June 10, 2005, to rave reviews. In 2006, the play received a Jeff Awards nomination for Best New Play in Chicago, and then opened in April that year at the Traveling Jewish Theatre in San Francisco and at the Ashby Stage in Berkeley, California. Another of Ms. Lauro’s recent plays, Clarence Darrow’s Last Trial, received the National Endowment for the Art’s Access to Excellence Award and was a finalist for the Sprenger-Lang New American History Prize. It premiered at the New Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida, and was nominated for the 2006 Carbonell Award for Best New Play in Florida.
Her play A Piece of My Heart, performed off-Broadway, opened the Twentieth Anniversary Season of the Manhattan Theatre Club. The play was previously produced at the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival of New American Plays, and received the Barbara Deming Prize, the Kittredge Foundation Award, and was a finalist for the Susan Blackburn Prize. Revival productions of the play were presented at Atlanta’s Theatre-in-the-Square, San Diego’s Mo’olelo Productions, and at Theatre Unbound in Minneapolis. The play has enjoyed over one thousand productions, both in the United States and abroad, and was the anchor production for the Women’s History Month Conference at California State University, Fullerton. Ms. Lauro also traveled to South Africa to attend the professional premiere there of A Piece of My Heart, sponsored by the Natal Performing Arts Council and the United States Information Agency. She lectured on the play at the five major universities of Natal Province. The play was also recently designated by the Vietnam Vets of America, Inc., as “the most enduring play in the nation on Vietnam.”
Ms. Lauro’s The Contest received the Foundation for Jewish Culture Award, was directed by Jerry Zaks for Philadelphia’s Annenberg Center, and had originally premiered off-Broadway at New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre. The Contest was published by Samuel French, Inc., in 2005.
Open Admissions first brought Ms. Lauro to national attention when the drama was produced on Broadway and received a Tony nomination, two Drama Desk nominations, a Theatre World Award, a Samuel French Playwriting Award, a New York Times pick for the “Ten Best Plays of the Year,” and the prestigious Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award. Ms. Lauro subsequently adapted Open Admissions for a CBS TV special, starring Jane Alexander. Regionally, productions of the play have been put on at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, the Baltimore Stages, the Alley Theatre of Houston, and the Great Lakes Theatre Festival in Cleveland, among others. Open Admissions, recently produced in 2007 at The Theater Project in Cranford, New Jersey, was also honored by its inclusion in the anthology Political Stages: Plays that Shaped a Century, edited by Emily Mann.
Pearls on the Moon, a finalist for the Jane Chambers Award, was developed and presented with a National Endowment for the Arts Residency Grant at the Alley Theatre. Margaret and Kit, a Susan Blackburn Prize finalist, was presented at New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre. Among Ms. Lauro’s 2001 publications are Turn Down and Sunday Go to Meetin’, both included in the anthology Backstory (Smith & Kraus), and Plays for Three Characters. All three were produced by the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival of New American Plays.
Her other work includes The Coal Diamond (recipient of the Heidemann Prize from the Actors Theatre of Louisville and selected for the Best Short Play anthology); Nothing Immediate Ooba (Festival Winner, the Samuel French Award), I Don’t Know Where You’re Coming From At All!, and Railing it Uptown, published in Vintage Books’ Take Ten and a fall 2007 publication of Playscripts.
Ms. Lauro’s novel, The Edge, was published by Doubleday and Dell in the United States, and by Weidenfeld & Nicholson and the New English Library in Great Britain. The novel was subsequently a Literary Guild choice. She has received honors from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She was awarded an artist’s residency at the Edna St. Vincent Millay Colony, and received a Yaddo Senior Artist’s Residency.
Ms. Lauro serves as a director of the Dramatists Guild Foundation, and was a member of its Council and its Steering Committee for twelve years. Her affiliations include the PEN American Center, Writer’s Guild East, the Author’s Guild, the Ensemble Studio Theater, The Women’s Project and Productions, The Drama League, the League of Professional Theatre Women of New York (formerly serving as vice-president), and the Playwrights/Directors Group of The Actors Studio.
She is an Adjunct Professor of Playwriting at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (Graduate Division), and previously held academic posts in playwriting at the City College of New York, Manhattan’s Marymount College, Hofstra University, and the University of Wisconsin. A graduate of Northwestern University in Theater, she holds an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin in Theater and Playwriting, and did postgraduate work at Columbia University and the City University of New York in Theater and Creative Writing. Her mentors have included Saul Bellow, Edward Albee, Harold Clurman, and Elizabeth Bowen.