Four Artists on Terrence McNally
In our commitment to supporting writers at all stages of their careers, we’re often thinking about and celebrating legacy, uniting the luminaries who have lit the way with the writers of today and the storytellers of tomorrow.
So this season, it seems fitting that the 2019 Tony Awards are honoring “theater titan” and beloved DGF Board Member Terrence McNally with the Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.
Amongst many other accomplishments and honors, Terrence is the winner of Tony Awards for his plays Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class and his books for the musicals Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman.
We asked several members of our community, “what about Terrence McNally’s writing speaks to you?” And we were met with warmth and enthusiasm indicative of both Terrence’s work and his reputation. What’s more, several of these artists know Terrence’s work through the roles they’ve played and also through the shows they love.
To experience a writer’s work both as a performer and as an audience member is a unique perspective, and we’re lucky to share some of these responses with you here:
“Terrence’s ability to express the complicated yet beautiful intricacies of the human condition make his work so fulfilling and rewarding to work on as an actor, and heart-wrenching and thrilling to experience as an audience member…Ragtime is one of my all-time favorite musicals. From its profound storytelling, to its sweeping powerful score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, this show is amazing.”
–Derek Klena, Anastasia
And then there’s the connection of word to human spirit…
“Terrence McNally is not just a writer, but a true poet. It’s such a gift as an actor to go onstage and know that the words you are speaking stand alone; there’s no pressure to try and add to them, or to embellish. The emotion is pure; the meaning deep. Each sentence is like a little present for the heart. I recently saw Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and was completely blown away by the intricacies of his writing — there is such romance and vibrancy within the raw storytelling. It’s not to be missed!”
–Kathryn Boswell, Anastasia
As we’ve shared of our own Music Hall, the history of a Broadway theater (and a show itself) add to the texture and energy of a space, like layers of paint. What a time, then, it must be at the Broadhurst Theatre, currently home to Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, still warm from the two-year run of Anastasia (which closed March 31st).
“Terrence is not only a dear friend to me but also one of the world’s greatest gifts to the theater. I am continually inspired by the way he takes in his surroundings and crafts them into timeless words and stories that touch our hearts. His ability to see value and wonder in everyone and everything is an attribute we can all aspire to. Terrence’s work will stand the test of time and continue to speak to audiences for generations to come.”
–Audra McDonald, currently starring in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
We’re proud to have Terrence in the DGF Family and to celebrate his work. For someone to write so keenly on the human condition, it follows that they’d value and nurture their professional relationships. Terrence embodies our core value of writers supporting writers.
“I came to New York City in 1987 hoping to meet great writers who, by virtue of their writing alone, would inspire me to write well. Little did I know that what would most inspire me, over time and tears, were the great writers who were also great human beings. Terrence McNally is a great writer, of this I am certain. But it has been his kindness, his generosity, his gentle support, his powerfully compassionate presence and his loving heart that have taught me where true greatness lies.”
-Andrew Lippa, Composer, Lyricist, Bookwriter, and DGF Board President (Unbreakable, Big Fish)
In honor of Terrence’s Lifetime Achievement award, we’ll be re-releasing The Legacy Project (June 10th on the DGF Youtube Channel) starting with a conversation between Terrence McNally and Annie Baker. This intimate glimpse into the struggles, triumphs, unique creative process challenge and inspire us to create and consume art in different ways.
As Terrence puts it, “Anything that makes us feel more connected to our fellow man is important. I think it’s so easy for us all to feel alone– somehow no one understands me. No one is like me…We are unique people, yes, but there is a bond between people that I think theater makes us realize.”
Thank you, Terrence, and congratulations on this incredible honor.