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JOHN GUARE (1938- )

AMERICAN dramatist John Guare was born in New York City on February 5, 1938. He wrote his first play, Universe, at the tender age of eleven. Educated at Georgetown University and Yale University, Guare first debuted off-off-Broadway in 1964 with To Wally Pantoni, We Leave a Credenza. His first real success, however, did not come until 1968 when a one-act entitled Muzeeka won him an Obie Award. In 1971, the young playwright shot to the forefront of American theatre with House of Blue Leaves, a semi-autobiographical play which firmly established Guare's unique vision. In the foreward to an anthology containing House of Blue Leaves, Louis Malle writes:

"Guare practices a humor that is synonymous with lucidity, exploding genre and clichés, taking us to the core of human suffering: the awareness of corruption in our own bodies, death circling in. We try to fight it all by creating various mythologies, and it is Guare's peculiar aptitude for exposing these grandiose lies of ours that makes his work so magical."

Guare's plays are highly theatrical. He finds the bizarre and comic in the human condition, magnifies it to massive propotions, and from this extracts the germ of his writing. He once stated that he has tried to expand the theatre's boundaries "because I think the chaotic state of the world demands it."

Other works by Guare include Two Gentlemen of Verona (1971), Rich and Famous (1974), The Landscape of the Body (1977), Bosoms and Neglect (1979), and Six Degrees of Separation (1990) which won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, and an Olivier Best Play Award.

This article was written by Fletcher Anderson and originally published on this website on April 25, 2002.


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