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Deborah Brevoort is an American playwright, librettist and lyricist best known for her play The Women of Lockerbie. She teaches Creative Writing at several universities.
Brevoort was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1954 to Virginia and Gordon Brevoort. She is the oldest of three children. She graduated from Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, NJ in 1972. She attended Kent State University where she receive a BA in English and Political Science in 1977, and an MA in Political Science in 1979.
Deborah moved to Juneau, Alaska in 1979. She worked in Alaskan politics serving as a special assistant to Lt. Governor Terry Miller and Alaska State Senator Frank Ferguson. In 1983 she became the Producing Director of Perseverance Theatre and an actor in the company. Her first two plays were produced at Perseverance: The Last Frontier Club in 1987 and Signs of Life in 1990. Signs of Life was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation playwriting grant and was later published by Samuel French.
Brevoort left Alaska to attend Brown University in Providence RI, where she received her MFA in Playwriting in 1993. She moved to New York City to attend New York University’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program where she received an MFA in 1995.
Brevoort is best known for her play The Women of Lockerbie, a story about the aftermath of the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, told in the form of a Greek tragedy. It was inspired by the laundry project undertaken by Lockerbie women, who washed the clothes of the victims and returned them to the families. In 2001 it won the silver medal in the Onassis International Playwriting Competition and the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award. It premiered Off-Broadway in 2003 by the New Group and Women’s Project. It was produced in London at the Orange Tree Theatre in 2005, at the Theater Royal in Dumfries, at the Actor’s Gang in Los Angeles in 2007 and the Will Geer Theater in Santa Monica in 2012. It is published by Dramatists Play Service and has been translated into seven languages.
Brevoort’s plays and musicals often use theatrical conventions and forms from around the world to explore contemporary American subjects. She wrote a Japanese Noh Drama about Elvis Presley called Blue Moon Over Memphis, which was published by Applause Books in The Best American Short Plays of 2004; a musical comedy inspired by world mythology and Saturday morning cartoons called Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing, with composer Scott Davenport Richards in 1998; and a holiday musical written in the form of an oratorio, called King Island Christmas, with composer David Friedman, based on the Alaskan children’s book of the same title in 1999. Both Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing and King Island Christmas won the Frederick Loewe Award.
She used the methods of magic realism from Latin American novels to dramatize life in an Alaskan fishing town in her play Into the Fire, which won the Weissberger Award in 1999 and was published by Samuel French in 2000.
In 2007 she wrote The Poetry of Pizza using the conventions of farce and romantic comedy to explore Arab/American relations and love across cultures. It was developed in the Centenary Stage Women’s Playwright’s Festival and was subsequently produced at the Purple Rose Theatre, Virginia Stage, Mixed Blood Theatre, California Rep, Theatre in the Square and Stage 3.
In 2009 she completed The Blue-Sky Boys, about NASA’s Apollo engineers and the intersection of creativity and science, with a commission from the EST/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology project. It premiered at the Barter Theatre in Virginia in 2010.
In 2010 she wrote The Velvet Weapon, using the back stage farce to dramatize populist democracy movements in the US. The play was written with a grant from CEC Arts Link and is inspired by the Velvet Revolution of Czechoslovakia.
In 2011 she wrote the libretto for Embedded, a one-act opera inspired by Edgar Allan Poe stories with composer Patrick Soluri for the American Lyric Theater. She also wrote the libretto for Steal a Pencil for Me, a full-length opera about Holocaust survivors, based on the book of the same title, with composer Gerald Cohen.
In 2012 she completed The Comfort Team, a play about military spouses, with a commission from Virginia Stage.
List of works
- The Comfort Team (2012)
- The Blue-Sky Boys (2009)
- The Velvet Weapon (2009)
- The Cheechako Treatment (2008)
- The Poetry of Pizza (2007)
- The Women of Lockerbie (2003)
- Blue Moon Over Memphis (2001)
- Into the Fire (2000)
- Signs of Life (1990)
- Last Frontier Club (1987)
- Goodbye My Island with David Friedman (2004)
- King Island Christmas with David Friedman (1999)
- Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing with Scott Davenport Richards (1998)
- Steal a Pencil for Me with Gerald Cohen (2012)
- Embedded with Patrick Soluri (2011)
- Altezura with Aleksandra Vrebalov (2008)
- Mexico in Alaska (1999)
- Covered Dishes (1997)
Honors and Awards
- Silver medal, Onassis International Playwriting Competition for The Women of Lockerbie
- Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award for The Women of Lockerbie
- Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theatre for Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing and King Island Christmas
- Paul Green Award (National Theatre Conference) for musical book writing
- L. Arnold Weissberger Award for Into the Fire
- Jane Chambers Award for Signs of Life
- Performing Artist/Writer Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society
- "Scots premiere for Lockerbie play". BBC News. 20 June 2006.
- Nicola Morris and Aimee Liu, ed. (2011). Alchemy of the Word: Writers Talk About Writing (Coimbra Editions, First ed.). California Institute of Arts and Letters (. p. 240. ISBN 978-0982655641.
- "Deborah Brevoort and Chuck Cooper". New York Times. 31 May 2009. p. ST12. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- Brevoort, Deborah (2005). The Women of Lockerbie. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8222-2079-4.
- "The Women of Lockerbie". Dialog, the theatre journal of the International Theatre Institute of Poland. 2003.
- The Women of Lockerbie, Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, (Onassis International Cultural Prizes Committee) Athens, Greece, 2001.
- Glenn Young, ed. (2004). The Best American Short Plays 2003-2004. Applause Books. ISBN 1557836957.
- "Blue Moon Over Memphis". Journal of the Noh Research Archives (Musashino University, Tokyo Japan). 2004.
- Brevoort, Deborah (2000). Into the Fire. Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 0-573-62721-5.
- Brevoort, Deborah (2007). Signs of Life. Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 978-0573-64241-8.
- King Island Christmas, cast recording, produced by the King Island Record Company and 12-time Grammy winner Thomas Z. Shepard, 1999.
- Deborah Brevoort Official Website
- King Island Christmas Website
- MFA Faculty of Goddard College
- New York University Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program
- Columbia University Theatre Arts Program