Arthur Yorinks (born August 21, 1953) is an American director for opera, theater, dance, film, and radio. He is the writer of more than 35 books including Hey, Al, for which his long-time collaborator Richard Egielski won the 1987 Caldecott Medal for children's picture book illustration.
Yorinks studied to be a classical pianist in his teens, under former Juilliard professor Robert Bedford. Since then he has spent more than four decades writing and working in the performing arts. He has written and directed numerous plays including So, Sue Me which premiered at The Kennedy Center and It's Alive which premiered at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Yorinks was Philip Glass's librettist for the operas The Juniper Tree and The Fall of the House of Usher, both of which have been performed all over the world.
Compelled by the use of sound in the theater, Yorinks has, for almost twenty years, experimented with the relationship between audio and live performance. In 2002 he formalized that passion into a company devoted to exploring, evolving, and redefining audio theater. Since then, Yorinks has written and directed over 35 original audio plays performed live in several series he established at The Kennedy Center, The Henry Street Playhouse, The Jacob Burns Film Center, and The New Victory Theater in New York City as well as other venues across the country. This audio work has been broadcast nationwide on XM Satellite Radio. Yorinks is at the forefront of a quest to redefine audio theater and create and produce what he has coined a new theater of sound for the 21st century—-theater work where the core of the dramatic narrative comes primarily from the use of sound—-as both a live theatrical experience as well as a recorded and broadcast medium. Yorinks has directed the radio works of Tom Stoppard, adapted and directed for radio Garson Kanin's The Rat Race, Kafka's The Metamorphosis, Gogol's The Portrait, Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and many other works of literature. His multimedia audio theater work, The Invisible Man was commissioned by WNYC Radio and premiered at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space in New York. In 2012, Yorinks wrote an original radio play adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. The play, starring Phylicia Rashad and Roslyn Ruff, was performed live in New York City and was directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Yorinks directed the radio broadcast which premiered on September 14, 2012 on WNYC Radio. His three and a half-hour audio play, Dubliners: an audio play suite based on the work of James Joyce, premiered in June 2014. Yorinks's current theater project is a play cycle entitled American Song in which he is writing 13 original plays covering the landscape of America from the 1890s to the present. It is being developed by The Flea Theater in New York City under the direction of Jim Simpson. Actors that have participated in Flea Theater performances include Sigourney Weaver, Adam Driver, David Hyde Pierce, Frances McDormand, Annette O'Toole, Peter Gerety, Reg E. Cathey, Linda Powell, Danny Burstein, Jay O. Sanders, Rebecca Luker, Maryann Plunkett, Stephen Mellor, Karen Ziemba, Max Gordon Moore, Stephen DeRosa and several others.
Yorinks has collaborated with several dance companies, including creation of a full-length dance/theater piece entitled A Selection with Pilobolus. Over the years, his eclectic and wide-ranging career has brought him into projects with celebrated artists from Andre Serban to Bill Irwin to the legendary film maker Michael Powell.
Yorinks has written more than 35 books, some for adults and some for children. He has been hailed as "one of the most distinctive prose styles in children's literature". In more than 34 years creating children's picture books he has collaborated with illustrators including Maurice Sendak, William Steig, Mort Drucker, and David Small, as well as Egielski. The New York Times once called his body of work "some of the best humor to appear since Woody Allen was writing for The New Yorker". His books include Louis the Fish (1980), Oh, Brother (1989), The Miami Giant (1995), Company's Coming (1988), Harry and Lulu (1999), and It Happened in Pinsk (1983). Mommy? (2006) was a New York Times Best Seller. He recently reunited with Egielski for two more picture books—What A Trip! (Scholastic, 2008) and Homework (Walker Books, 2009).
Yorinks originated a new theater of sound in collaboration with New York Public Radio's Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, where he is a consulting adviser. He launched Lost Marbles Books, an innovative e-publishing imprint focusing on literature and storytelling and the pleasure of reading.
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- Lost Marbles Books (e-publisher) – "stories by Arthur Yorinks & friends"
- Arthur Yorinks at the Internet Book List
- Arthur Yorinks at Library of Congress Authorities, with 31 catalog records