Christopher Durang

Christopher Durang was born on January 2, 1949, in Montclair, New Jersey. Educated at Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, he has had plays both on and off Broadway including The Nature and Purpose of the Universe; Titanic; A History of the American Film; Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You; Beyond Therapy; Baby With the Bathwater; The Marriage of Bette and Boo; Laughing Wild; and Betty's Summer Vacation. He won Obie Awards for Sister Mary Ignatius and The Marriage of Bette and Boo, received a Tony nomination for "Best Book of a Musical" for A History of the American Film, and received a Drama Desk nomination for Betty's Summer Vacation. He has also written several screenplays including Beyond Therapy; The Nun Who Shot Liberty Valence; The House of Husbands (which he co-authored with Wendy Wasserstein); and The Adventures of Lola.

Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, one of Durang's most popular plays, revolves around a nun who boasts of the righteousness of her charges, including Thomas, a little boy who can recite the Ten Commandments on cue. When some of the Sister's former charges show up however, the picture begins to darken. One of them is the happy mother of an illegitimate child; another is a contented homosexual; and yet another has had two abortions--the first after having been raped on the night of her mother's death! The one thing that all of these young people have in common is their loathing for Sister Mary Ignatius and the unyielding dogma that she forced down their throats in their formative years. Soon, it becomes apparent that the only possible outcome is a violent (and hilarious) one!

Another of Durang's classics is Baby With the Bathwater, a satiric black comedy that enjoyed a long run at Playwrights Horizons. It tells the story of Daisy, a child who's parents were too polite to chech her sex when she was born--so they just "decided" she was a girl. Of course, when Daisy turns out to be a boy, he/she must work through all manner of emotional and personal trauma caused by his strange childhood. Another family-related comedy is The Marriage of Bette and Boo in which a disturbed couple turns for advice to Father Donnally, a Roman Catholic priest who dodges their questions by impersonating a strip of bacon! Like all of Durang's plays, The Marriage of Bette and Boo uses off-beat humor to examine issues that are, in truth, deeply disturbing.

Durang has also performed for both stage and screen. As an actor, he appeared in Lauging Wild in Los Angeles and The Marriage of Bette and Boo in New York (for which he shared an acting ensemble Obie Award). He performed his cabaret Chris Durang and Dawne in numerous venues, earning himself a 1996 Bistro Award. He also appeared with Julie Andrews in the Sondheim review Putting it Together and with Sigourney Weaver in the Brecht-Weill parody Das Lusitania Songspiel--which they co-wrote. He has made guest appearances on several sitcoms including Frasier (episode 6.8: "The Seal Who Came To Dinner" as "Sebastian Melmoth") and has had supporting roles in several feature films including The Out of Towners (Paranoid Man), Simply Irresistible (Gene O'Reilly), Joe's Apartment (Boss Clergy), The Cowboy Way (Waiter), Life With Mikey (Santa), Housesitter (Reverend Lipton), The Butcher's Wife (Mr. Liddle), In the Spirit (Ambulance Attendant), A Shock to the System (Convention Speaker), Penn & Teller Get Killed (Jesus Freak), Mr. North (YMCA Clerk), The Secret of My Success (Davis), and Heaven Help Us (Priest).

Durang has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants including a Guggenheim, a Rockefeller, the CBS Playwriting Fellowship, the Lecompte du Nouy Foundation Grant, the Kenyon Festival Theatre Playwriting Prize, and the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers Award. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council and is co-chair of the playwriting program at Juilliard.

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Durang's Plays


Durang's Plays

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