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Dramatists Guild issues statement on the passing of Christopher Durang

The late Tony Award-winning playwright is the recipient of the Guild’s 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Christopher Durang at the 2013 Tony Awards (Credit: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

The Dramatists Guild of America, the professional association for playwrights, composers, lyricists and librettists has released a statement on the passing of playwright Christopher Durang. Durang, who was recently announced as the Guild’s 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, passed away on April 2 at the age of 75.

“Christopher Durang was not only a giant in our field, but a guiding light whose daring works illuminated the stage with brilliance and wit,” the statement begins. “His legacy as a playwright, lyricist and educator is immeasurable, touching the lives of countless artists and audiences alike.”

In 2013, Durang’s Anton Chekhov-inspired comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” transferred to Broadway following a 2012 Off-Broadway run at Lincoln Center Theater, opening on at the John Golden Theater. The production was twice-extended, and Durang was awarded the Tony for Best Play. While this was his first Tony win, Durang’s long and varied career in the theater—both on Broadway and off—began decades earlier.

Durang’s first Broadway credit was for providing the lyrics and book for 1978’s “A History of American Film,” which earned the writer his first Tony nomination for Best Book of a Musical. A year later, he won an Obie Award for his Off-Broadway play “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You.” His additional Broadway credits include 1982’s “Beyond Therapy,” 1996’s “Sex and Longing” and the 2010 Dame Edna musical “All About Me.” Durang’s Off-Broadway body of work includes 1985’s “The Marriage of Bette and Boo,” 1999’s “Betty’s Summer Vacation,” and 2005’s “Miss Witherspoon,” the latter for which he was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Onstage, he appeared in the 1980 Bertolt Brecht-inspired parody “Das Lusitania Songspiel,” which he wrote with his co-star, Tony nominee Sigourney Weaver. In 1978, Durang joined the Guild and served on its council beginning in 1981.

“As we prepare to honor him on May 6 with a Lifetime Achievement recognition at our annual awards night ceremony, we are filled with gratitude for his contributions to the dramatic arts,” the statement continues. “From his acclaimed works to his dedicated service on the Dramatists Guild Council and his influential tenure at Juilliard, Chris’ impact will continue to resonate for generations to come. Though he may not be with us to witness this tribute, his spirit lives on in the hearts of those he touched. Our thoughts are with his husband, John Augustine, his longtime agent, Patrick Herold, and the writers whose lives he enriched with his passion and wisdom.”

A staged reading of “Vanya” will take place at Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont Theater on May 7. The performance will mark a reunion of most of the play’s original Broadway company.

Durang passed from complications from aphasia. In 2022, Durang’s diagnosis of a rare form of dementia, logopenic primary progressive aphasia, was publicly announced.