Jean-Claude van Itallie was born in Brussels, emigrated to America with his family in 1940, was a central force in the explosive New York off-Broadway theater movement of the 60's. His acclaimed America Hurrah, considered the watershed anti-Viet Nam war play, received many awards.He was one of the original playwrights at Ellen Stewart’s LaMama. With Joe Chaikin’s Open Theater, he wrote the Obie-winning ensemble play, The Serpent. Van Itallie’s over thirty plays include War, Bag Lady, Almost Like Being, The Traveler, Struck Dumb, and Ancient Boys. A student of Tibetan Buddhist master Chogyam Trungpa since 1968, van Itallie wrote the play, Tibetan Book of the Dead which premiered at LaMama, NYC 1983 (The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Reading Aloud, North Atlantic). Van Itallie was an actor-writer in Guys Dreamin (Boston Center for the Arts; LaMama, 1997). In 2000 he got good reviews in NY and LA Times for his one man show, War, Sex, Singing and Dancing. In 2006 his Fear Itself, Secrets of the White House performed at Theater for the New City, NYC, and in 2010, his The Mother’s Return performed at LaMama Cabaret, NYC. He’s currently co-writing with Lois Walden the libretto for Mila, Great Sorcerer, an opera about Milarepa, Tibet’s famous singing yogi of a thousand years ago. Van Itallie is author of The Playwright’s Workbook (Applause Books). Tony Kushner writes, “Jean-Claude is the only play writing teacher I ever had.” He has transformed the beautiful old farm in Western Massachusetts where he lives into Shantigar Foundation for theater, meditation, and healing (Shantigar.org). For more info: vanitallie.com. He will be reading from his still-in-the-works memoirs.
Maurice Edwards will be reading from his book, Revelatory Letters to Nina Cassian.
"In these lively letters, inspired by the poet Nina Cassian, Maurice Edwards follows a life-long talented path through his involvement in many aspects of theater and music, from his experimental stagings in Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater to his innovative programming as artistic director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. En route, he paints hilarious portraits of many artistic characters, from the domineering Gertrude Stein in her post-World War II apartment in Paris to Lilla Van Saher, friend of Tennessee Williams, in her New York Murray Hill flat." -- William Jay Smith