After his parents divorced when he was 5, he moved with his mother to Springfield, Missouri , where they lived until she remarried. Lenhard, a farmer from Ozark, Missouri , and they both moved in with him. He had two half-brothers, John and Jim, and one stepsister, Judy. He worked in odd jobs, such as a temporary typist, a reservations clerk at Americana Hotel , at the complaint desk of a furniture store, and at a dishwashing job where a co-worker incorrectly called him "Lance". The experience left him thinking that theatre "could be both dangerous and funny in that way at the same time". In Cino, Wilson found a mentor who would not only critique his plays, but also stage them.
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Like his great precursors, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, his dramatic reputation rests on a substantial body of early work followed by a long period of diminished and unheralded productivity.
Wilson was among the most fertile of the generation that gravitated to New York City in the s in a period of accelerating esthetic and political change. In churches, coffee shops, and theatre cafes, Wilson and his playwright contemporaries experimented thematically by introducing hitherto suppressed subject matter e. The estimable Signature Theatre Company has for more than a decade dedicated each theatre season to offering a selection of work by one significant, if not always well-known, American playwright; honorees include Horton Foote, Arthur Miller, Adrienne Kennedy, and Maria Irene Fornes.
That Lanford Wilson, often considered but unchosen until now, has finally received his recognition is undoubtedly due to the fact that until he was one of the few playwrights blessed with his own theatre.
The trajectory of the play is the coming together of the unlikely pair of the dancer and the wild man. The result is an enervating running-time of over three-hours. There are other dramatic problems. Despite the excellence of much of their screen work, despite the obvious seriousness in which they have approached their roles, Catherine Keener ironically Oscar nominee in Being John Malkovich and Edward Norton do not have the stage presence, the sheer size to dazzle and make us really care what happens to them.
Sad to say, Keener does not project the attractiveness to credit the assumption that men are fighting for her. And Norton, another excellent actor, cannot overcome his own physical lack of distinction. A whiter shade of Pale indeed. Pale is one of those impossible over-sized characters like Stanley Kowalski or Jimmy Porter whom you love despite their often hateful aggressiveness.
Beneath the Macho posturing must lie a sympathetic core of vulnerability. Share this:.
Burn This – Lanford Wilson