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Black Tie International:
Playwright A. R. Gurney Does Reading at the Drama Book Store

 Playwright A.R. Gurney,
Member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the
American Academy of Arts, Does Reading at the
Drama Book Store

 Photos & Story by: Fiddle Viracola
 Playwright A. R. Gurney

 Playwright A. R. Gurney

A. R. Gurney &  Nancy Reardon

A. R. Gurney Nancy Reardon

Pat O'Haire  & Peter Rogan,  Director

Pat O'Haire  & Peter Rogan,  Director

Nancy Reardon & Nancy Mueller

Nancy Reardon & Nancy Mulley

A. R. Gurney & Fiddle Viracola

A. R. Gurney & Fiddle Viracola

Playwright A. R. Gurney, member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts, did a reading at the Drama Book Store, (250 West 40th St.)  hosted by director/ actress/ teacher, Nancy Reardon, the store manager.

“Let me learn about you. I write characters. I like to have an idea of who I am talking to.”

In a brown jacket, grey pants and dark shirt, he sat on a
high chair backed by a shiny black wall. A table held his books and plays. Among them:
Scenes from American Life,
The Dining Room
, The Cocktail Hour, Love Letters, Sylvia,
Big Bill
, Far East, Mrs. Farnsworth, Indian Blood, Buffalo Gal,
The Grand Manner
, and Office Hours.

The World Premiere of his new comedy, Black Tie, a
New York Times Critics pick, directed by Mark Lamos is extended at
Primary Stages (Casey Childs, Founder & Executive Producer; Andrew Leynse, Artistic Director; Elliot Fox, Managing Director) and Jamie deRoy amongst its producers. There, Anne and
Marvin Einhorn, Carnegie Mellon notables, are name-honored with the Einhorn School of Performing Arts.

A.R. “Pete” Gurney‘s been writing over fifty years: plays,
three published novels, several television scripts, a few never produced movies and the librettos of two operas.
Known for his WASP- world social settings, he said:
 “The world they call WASP I wrote about has changed.
I think of them as people who eat and sit.”
His teaching at M.I.T. for twenty six years began with Greek, Judeo- Christian alternatives, literature and then playwriting. Making playwriting interesting and exciting for M.I.T. students was a challenge. Expertise in mathematics served them well in writing dorm plays. “They knew enough to know
they didn’t know.”
At Yale School of Drama he asked “Can I write a play?”
Yale taught writing rules: rising and falling action. He gathered wisdom: “Write issues and what you feel strongly about. Write with your eye on the audience. Sometimes, the most powerful characters you don’t introduce. Off stage they dictate the flow of the play. It’s an act of faith; you’ll find a good payoff. In film writing you need a false ending then another ten minutes,
for the real ending.”
On routine a.m. writing: “Once longhand now computer means
I write till the dog has to go out. It’s so much a habit,
if I don’t do it I feel restless.”

A monologue from Big Bill, (a Lincoln Center production)
 the tragic story of gay tennis player Bill Tilden was shared.
Words linger: Always play to win.  Be murderous and courteous. Wear white. The innocence of Angels.

The audience took notes from one of America’s greatest playwrights.  All wished they had studied with him. His gracious and generous manner encouraged further questions.

“How is our now short attention span affecting the theater?”

“Broadway is mostly Rock Musicals. They celebrate a
younger audience who want fewer or no intermissions.
Older folk like the immediacy of theatre; real live people and community being created. They are more aware of the
 human connection in their life.”

Recently, during a play of Tennessee Williams, the director
 told a woman: “Shut off your cell phone!“ ‘No! I have to answer my messages!’

In Shakespeare’s time the ‘groundlings’ ate, urinated and sold oranges. 


Joyce Brooks

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