Nonfiction from NER 40.4
JOHN GUARE’s career as a playwright has made him a dominant figure in theater for over six decades. Born in New York City in 1938, he has received Tony, Obie, and Olivier awards, among many other distinctions. He was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and nominated for an Oscar. Guare, who earned an MFA from Yale University, began his career in the theater during the 1960s at the legendary Caffé Cino. His most recent play, Nantucket Sleigh Ride, opened at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in March 2019, directed by Jerry Zaks. . . .
I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Mr. Guare at his apartment in New York City in September 2018, covering everything from his early days as a child dramatist to his upcoming opening at Lincoln Center.
NGN: You’ve said that you’ve loved to go to the theater since you were seven, and you knew that writing plays would be your way of working there. Why theater and not another artistic field?
JOHN GUARE: I had two great uncles who toured in vaudeville from 1880 to 1917 and I had their handwritten sides—actors’ sides with the cue lines. Their plays were terrible melodrama—Pawn Ticket 210, The Old Toll House—but I was absolutely fascinated by the past, about traveling around America. And then when I was a kid, I went to see Annie Get Your Gun and it was overwhelming. The immediacy of the theater, and that it was so formal: You had to go at a certain time. You had to sit in a certain seat. It began, it ended. I loved being part of the audience. It was amazing how something up on stage could make a thousand people laugh or gasp at the same moment. Growing up in New York City, I would go and see a show at least once a year, always on my birthday. Going to the theater always meant something special, you got dressed up for it back then. I loved that—that world seemed to me to have an excitement and exhilaration. . . .