Critics have walked all over playwrights -- now the public can, too.
Not to be outdone by Hollywood, playwrights -- particularly those represented Off-Broadway -- will have their own "Walk of Fame" in New York City, being unveiled 6:45 PM Oct. 26 in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Christopher Street in Manhattan.
Actress and producer Lucille Lortel will dedicate the "Playwrights' Sidewalk," which will adorn the cement outside her namesake theatre. The stretch of pavement will feature several rows of metal stars honoring a wide variety of scribes, both living and dead, from such luminaries as Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill to recent writers such as Douglas Carter Beane (As Bees in Honey Drown) and Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive).
New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani declared Oct. 26 "Off-Broadway Playwrights Day." That section around 121 Christopher Street will be blocked off.
The only criterion for inclusion in the sidewalk tribute -- which is privately funded -- is that the dramatist's works must have been performed Off Broadway at one time or another. Lortel, long known as the "Queen of Off-Broadway," conceived of the idea and selected the first set of honorees.
The long list includes: Edward Albee, John Arden, Douglas Carter Beane, Samuel Beckett, Lee Blessing, Marc Blitzstein, Bertolt Brecht, Caryl Churchill, Michael Cristofer, Mart Crowley, Horton Foote, Athol Fugard, Jean Genet, A.R. Gurney, William M. Hoffman, Langston Hughes, William Inge, Eugene Ionesco, Adrienne Kennedy, Arthur Kopit, Larry Kramer, Ring Lardner, Archibald MacLeish, Norman Mailer, David Mamet, Terrence McNally, Arthur Miller, Yukio Mishima, Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema, Marsha Norman, Sean O'Casey, Eugene O'Neill, Norman Rosten, Murray Schisgal, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, Derek Walcott, Wendy Wasserstein, Michael Weller, Tennessee Williams, Lanford Wilson and Paul Zindel.
Lortel will officiate, Donald Saddler will direct the ceremony and among those expected are Beane, Foote, Hoffman, Kramer, Ngema (all the way from South Africa), Norman, Schisgal, Vogel, Weller, Wilson and Zindel. Performers expected include Patrice Munsel, Kim Hunter, Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach and others.
New writers will be added each year, chosen by committee. The nature and number of the committee members is yet to be decided.
-- By Kenneth Jones