|Is|| Writer |
|From||United States of America|
|Type|| Film, TV, Stage & Radio |
|Birth||1 January 1939, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.A.|
Murray Mednick (born 1939) is an American playwright and poet. He’s best known as founder of the Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop/Festival, where he served as artistic director from 1978 to 1995. He has received numerous awards for his plays, including two Rockefeller Grants and an OBIE.
Life and career
Born in 1939 to a family with Jewish roots, Mednick attended Brooklyn College and became involved with New York’s off-off Broadway company Theatre Genesis, where much of his early work was staged. He was eventually appointed to the post of artistic co-director in 1970. In 1974, Mednick moved to Los Angeles after being evicted from his apartment while on a trip to the Yucatán on a Guggenheim grant.
Mednick founded the long-running summer workshop Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop/Festival in 1978 with funding from LaVerne University, where he was teaching at the time. The workshop was meant to be an extension of his collaborations with Ralph Cook, his mentor and founder of Theatre Genesis. In his teachings at Padua, Mednick stressed a strong grounding in theater and literary history, specifically the Ancient Greeks, Shakespeare and Beckett. Language was especially important. In a 2001 interview, Mednick said that Padua’s teaching was “based in a literary knowledge, with a seriousness of purpose that isn’t necessarily commercial. Both the writing and the acting are like realism-plus. Ordinary exchanges of life are put in an occasion that heightens them. The dialogue is really the action; it has a life of its own. The story is reflected by the dialogue.” Notable participants in the Workshop/Festival included Maria Irene Fornes, Sam Shepard, John Steppling, John O’Keefe, Jon Robin Baitz and Kelly Stuart”.
Padua ceased operation in 1995 and reemerged in 2001, premiering three Mednick works as part of a tribute series honoring influential local playwrights.
Mednick has been mentioned as influencing other playwrights including Sam Shepard, Eduardo Machado, and David Scott Milton.
Mednick’s works include an autobiographical series 16 Routines, Joe and Betty (concerning his parents’ difficult marriage, performed in New York starting in June 2002), and Mrs. Feuerstein, as well as Sand, The Hawk, and The Coyote Cycle, a series of one-act plays involving four characters such as Spider Grandmother drawn from traditional Native American folklore. The Coyote character was also featured in Destruction of the Fourth World, part of the 2009 series performed by Padua Playwrights.
His published plays include Three Plays (Padua Hills Press) and Switchback (Sun and Moon Press). His book of plays, Hipsters in Distress, Are You Lookin’? (including other plays) was published in Spring of 2005 by Padua Hills Press. Anthologized plays include Freeze, The Deer Kill, Willie the Germ, The Hawk, Sand, Switchback, Taxes, and others.
Mednick is also credited as writer for the 2005 movie Girl on a Bed, a short film adaptation of his play.
Awards and recognition
Mednick is the recipient of two Rockefeller Foundation grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an OBIE, several Bay Area Critics Awards, two LA Weekly Playwriting Awards (for Dictator and Fedunn), the American Theater Critics Association/Steinberg New Play Citation (for Joe and Betty), an Ovation Lifetime Achievement Award from Theatre LA for outstanding contributions to Los Angeles Theatre, a Local Hero Garland Award from Back Stage West for a Distinguished Body of Work, a Career Achievement Award from the LA Weekly, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle’s most prestigious honor, The Margaret Harford Award for “Sustained Excellence in Theater.” His work “The Deerkill” was highly regarded when it ran as an entry in The American College Theater Festival in the early seventies; Mednick provided on-site guidance for the director, Gil Lazier, and cast of Florida State University School of Theatre students.