Paul Schmidt, a librettist and translator of plays who worked in avant garde theatre, died in New York City Feb. 19 of complication from AIDS, the Associated Press reported. He was 65.
Mr. Schmidt translated the poems of Arthur Rimbaud and the plays of Anton Chekhov. He also translated Russian poet Velemir Khlebnikov's play Zangezi for a Peter Sellars-directed production that played Los Angeles and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
He composed a libretto for the opera Alice, based on Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'' and "Through the Looking Glass,'' at BAM's Next Wave Festival in 1995. Tom Waits was the composer, Robert Wilson directed.
The New York Times reported Mr. Schmidt wrote a translation of Three Sisters for the Wooster Group's Brace Up! in 1990. He also appeared in that show, which used dance and video.
Drawing from three versions of scripts by Jean Genet, Mr. Schmidt pieced together the text of JoAnne Akalaitis' 1989 staging of Genet's The Screeens at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He also translated the works of Gogol, Brecht and Marivaux. Black Sea Follies was an original about Stalin and Shostakovich (with music by the latter) had a staging by Playwrights Horizons and the Music Theater Group in 1986, according to the New York Times.
Mr. Schmidt, a Brooklyn native, was educated at Colgate and Harvard. His friends and colleagues in Cambridge included Lindsay Crouse, Tommy Lee Jones, John Lithgow, Kathryn Walker and Stockard Channing. Mr. Schmidt and Channing were married for seven years, the Times reported.
Schmidt taught the craft of translating plays at the Yale Drama School. The American Repertory Theatre in MA last season did his versions of Euripides' The Bacchae and Brecht's In the Jungle of Cities, and followed up with his adaptation of Racine's Phaedra this season.
According to Boston theatre critic Caldwell Titcomb, last June at the 16th Elliot Norton Awards, Schmidt received a special citation "for his dedicated decades of sterling stage translations from ancient Greek, French, German, and Russian."
Mr. Schmidt is survived by brothers Jim and Thomas; three sisters, Mary Kay Murray, Margaret Sand and Anne Schmidt; and his friend, Mark Bennett, the Times reported.
-- By Kenneth Jones