Richard Greenberg

Richard Greenberg

American playwright and television writer

Richard Greenberg (born February 22, 1958) is an American playwright and television writer known for his subversively humorous depictions of middle-class American life. He has had more than 25 plays premiere on and Off-Broadway in New York City and eight at the South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa, California, including The Violet Hour, Everett Beekin, and Hurrah at Last.[1][2]

Quick Facts Born, Occupation ...

Greenberg is perhaps best known for his 2003 Tony Award winning play, Take Me Out, about the conflicts that arise after a Major League Baseball player nonchalantly announces to the media that he is gay. The play premiered in London and ran in New York as the first collaboration between England's Donmar Warehouse and New York's Public Theater.[3] After it transferred to Broadway in early 2003, Take Me Out won widespread critical acclaim for Greenberg and many prestigious awards.

Background and education

Greenberg grew up in East Meadow, New York, a middle-class Long Island town in Nassau County, east of New York City. His father, Leon Greenberg, was an executive for New York's Century Theaters movie chain, and his mother Shirley was a homemaker.[4] Greenberg graduated from East Meadow High School in 1976 and went on to attend Princeton University, where he graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in English.[5] As part of his degree, Greenberg completed a 438-page senior thesis titled "A Romantic Career - A Novel".[6] At Princeton, Greenberg studied creative writing under Joyce Carol Oates and roomed with future Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw. Later he attended Harvard for graduate work in English and American literature, but dropped out of the program when he was accepted to the Yale School of Drama's playwriting program in 1985.[5]


Along with Take Me Out, Greenberg's plays include The Dazzle, The American Plan, Life Under Water, and The Author's Voice. His adaptation of August Strindberg's Dance of Death ran on Broadway in 2002, starring Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, and David Strathairn.

He received the George Oppenheimer Award presented by Newsday in 1985 for The Bloodletters, produced off-off-Broadway while he was at Yale.[7][8][9] In 1998 he was the first winner of the PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award for a playwright in mid-career.[10][11]

In 2013, Greenberg worked on three shows: on Broadway, an adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's[12] and The Assembled Parties, and the book for the musical Far From Heaven, which opened in June 2013 at Playwrights Horizons.[13]

His play Our Mother's Brief Affair premiered at the South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa in April 2009. Directed by Pam MacKinnon, the cast featured Jenny O'Hara, Matthew Arkin, Arye Gross and Marin Hinkle. This was a commission from the SCRT.[14][15] The play opened on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, on December 28, 2015 (previews), and officially on January 20, 2016, starring Linda Lavin.[16][17]

His play The Babylon Line premiered Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater on November 10, 2016, in previews, and officially on December 5.[18] Directed by Terry Kinney, the cast features Josh Radnor as a writing teacher and Elizabeth Reaser as his student.[19] The play was first performed at New York Stage and Film & Vassar College's Powerhouse Theater in June and July 2014, starring Radnor.[20]


The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary American Playwrights describes Greenberg's "most prominent" interest as history "and (also) the past". He has a strong "tendency to draw on historical characters or events——the Lost Generation, the Collyer Brothers, the New York Yankees" as sources for his material. He is said to have a "witty use of language."[21]

Awards and nominations




  • 1989: "Ask Me Again" (based on "An Old-Fashioned Story" by Laurie Colwin), American Playhouse, PBS.
  • 1989: "Life under Water" (based on his one-act play), PBS.
  • 1989: "The Sad Professor," Trying Times, PBS.
  • 1991: "Georgie through the Looking Glass," Sisters, NBC.
  • 1999: "The Time the Millennium Approached," Time of Your Life, Fox.

See also


  1. "Richard Greenberg (1958-)". Doollee's Complete Guide to the Playwright, Plays, Theatres, and Agents. 2003. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  2. Hernandez, Ernio (December 5, 2007). "South Coast Rep Nabs Another Greenberg World-Premiere Comedy, 'The Injured Party'". Playbill. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  3. Brantley, Ben (February 28, 2003). "Theatre Review: Love Affair With Baseball And a Lot of Big Ideas". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  4. "Richard Greenberg". Contemporary Authors Online. Gale Biography In Context. Detroit: Gale. 2006. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  5. Witchel, Alex (March 26, 2006). "A Dramatic Shut-In". The New York Times Magazine. p. 47. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  6. Greenberg, Richard. A Romantic Career - A Novel (Thesis). Princeton University. Department of English.
  7. Bryer, Jackson R. and Hartig, Mary C. "Richard Greenberg" The Facts on File Companion to American Drama, Infobase Publishing, 2010, ISBN 1438129661, p.207
  8. Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'The Bloodletters,' a Comedy" The New York Times, December 7, 1984
  9. Guernsey, Otis L. and Sweet, Jeffrey. "Eastern Standard" The Best Plays of 1988-1989: The Complete Broadway and Off-Broadway Sourcebook Hal Leonard Corporation, 1989, ISBN 1557830568, p. 172
  10. "Richard Greenberg". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  11. Lawrence Van Gelder (May 9, 1998). "Arthur Miller Gets Award From PEN". The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
  12. Gans, Andrew. "Broadway's Breakfast at Tiffany's Sets Closing Date" Archived November 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, April 15, 2013
  13. McNulty, Charles. "A rich season for playwright Richard Greenberg", Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2013
  14. McNulty, Charles. "Review. 'Our Mother's Brief Affair'" Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2009
  15. Viagas, Robert. "Verdict: How Were the Reviews for 'Our Mother's Brief Affair'?, January 20, 2016
  16. The Babylon Line, accessed November 21, 2016
  17. "Powerhouse Season attracts theater, TV stars". Poughkeepsie Journal. May 22, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  18. Innes, Christopher (and others) editor, "Richard Greenberg" The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary American Playwrights (no page number), A&C Black, 2013, ISBN 1408134810
  19. Portantiere, Michael. "The 2001-2002 Outer Critics Circle Award Winners", April 29, 2002
  20. "1998 Literary Award Winners", accessed March 6, 2016
  21. Rich, Frank. "Theater Review. 'Hunger Artist, Kafka in Life and Work" The New York Times, February 27, 1987
  22. Rich, Frank. "Theater review. 'The maderati' by Richard Greenberg" The New York Times, February 20, 1987
  23. Goodman, Walter. "Theater Review. Of Baseball, the Infinite and Various Kinds of Curves" The New York Times, June 16, 1988
  24. Richards, David. "Review/Theater; White Knights and Villains In the Quiz-Show Scandals" The New York Times, March 16, 1994
  25. Everett Beekin, accessed December 28, 2015
  26. Oxman, Steve. "Review. Everett Beekin Variety, September 20, 2000
  27. The Dance of Death, accessed January 21, 2016
  28. Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review. At Home With the Collyer Brothers" The New York Times, March 6, 2002
  29. Abarbanel, Jonathan. "Review: 'The Well-Appointed Room', February 8, 2006
  30. Columbus,Curt; Murray, Thomas; Nedved, William. "Richard Greenberg: The Mind Lighting 'The Well-Appointed Room'", 2005-2006, Vol. 2
  31. The House in Town, accessed December 30, 2015
  32. Breakfast at Tiffany's, accessed December 15, 2016

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