Elizabeth LeCompte

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Elizabeth LeCompte (born April 28, 1944) is an American director of experimental theater, dance and media. A founding member of The Wooster Group, she has directed that ensemble since its emergence in the late 1970s.[1]

Life and career[edit]

LeCompte was born and grew up in New Jersey. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fine Arts from Skidmore College. With The Wooster Group, she has composed, designed, and directed over forty works for theater, dance, film and video, starting with Sakonnet Point in 1975. These works characteristically interweave performance with multimedia technologies and are strongly influenced by historical and contemporary visual arts and architecture.

Prior to her work with The Wooster Group, she was a member of the experimental theater company The Performance Group from 1970 to 1975. Subsequently, LeCompte and Spalding Gray founded The Wooster Group, along with Jim Clayburgh, Willem Dafoe, Peyton Smith, Kate Valk, and Ron Vawter.

LeCompte has lectured and taught at American University, Chicago Art Institute, Columbia University, Connecticut College, the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Northeastern University, the O’Neill Center, Smith College, the University of London, and Yale School of Drama.


Among her honors, LeCompte has received the National Endowment for the Arts Distinguished Artists Fellowship for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater, the MacArthur Fellowship,[2] the Chevalier des Artes et Lettres from the French Cultural Ministry, a Guggenheim Fellowship,[3] a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship,[4] a United States Artists Fellowship, an Anonymous Was a Woman Award,[5] the Theater Practitioner Award from Theatre Communications Group,[6] The Skowhegan Medal for Performance, a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Performance Artist Award[7] and honorary doctorates from the New School and California Institute of the Arts.

Wooster Group Works Made by LeCompte[edit]


Three Places in Rhode Island[edit]

  • Sakonnet Point (1975)
  • Rumstick Road (1977)
  • Nayatt School (1978)
  • Point Judith (an epilog) (1979)

The Road to Immortality[edit]

  • Route 1 & 9 (1981)
  • L.S.D. (…Just the High Points…) (1984)
  • Frank Dell’s The Temptation of St. Antony (1988)
  • North Atlantic (1984, 1999, 2010)
  • Brace Up! (1991, 2003)
  • The Emperor Jones (1993, 2006)
  • Fish Story (1994)
  • The Hairy Ape (1996)
  • House/Lights (1998, 2005)
  • To You, The Birdie! (Phèdre) (2002)
  • Poor Theater (2004)
  • Who’s Your Dada?! (2006)
  • Hamlet (2007, 2012)
  • La Didone (2009)
  • Vieux Carré (2011)
  • Troilus and Cressida (2012) — a collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company; directed by Elizabeth LeCompte and Mark Ravenhill
  • Cry, Trojans! (Troilus & Cressida) (2014)
  • Early Shaker Spirituals (2014)


  • Hula (1981)
  • For the Good Times (1982)
  • Dances with T.V. and Mic (1998)
  • Erase-E(X) (2004) (with JoJi Inc.)
  • I Am Jerome Bel (2008)

Film and Video[edit]

  • Flaubert Dreams of Travel but the Illness of His Mother Prevents It (1986)
  • Today I Must Sincerely Congratulate You (1991)
  • White Homeland Commando (1992)
  • Rhyme ’Em to Death (1994)
  • The Emperor Jones (DVD - 1999)
  • House/Lights (DVD - 2004)
  • There Is Still Time . . Brother (installation - 2007)
  • Brace Up! (DVD - 2009)
  • Dailies (2010 - present)
  • To You, The Birdie! (Phèdre) (DVD - 2011)
  • Rumstick Road (DVD - 2013)


  • The Emperor Jones (BBC 3 radio play - 1998)
  • Racine’s Phèdre (BBC 3 radio play - 2000)
  • The Peggy Carstairs Report (BBC 3 radio play - 2002)
  • Love Songs (CD - 2002)

See also[edit]

The Performance Group

The Wooster Group

Further reading[edit]

  • Champagne, Leonora, “Always Starting New: Elizabeth LeCompte,” The Drama Review 25:3 (1981).
  • Dunkelberg, Kermit, “Confrontation, Stimulation, Admiration: The Wooster Group’s Poor Theater,” The Drama Review 49:3 (2005).
  • Kramer, Jane, "Experimental Journey: Elizabeth LeCompte Takes on Shakespeare", The New Yorker (October 8, 2007).
  • LeCompte, Elizabeth, “An Introduction,” Performing Arts Journal, 3:2 (1978).
  • LeCompte, Elizabeth, “Who Owns History?”, Performing Arts Journal, 4:1 (1979).
  • LeCompte, Elizabeth, “The Wooster Group Dances: From the Notebooks of Elizabeth LeCompte,” The Drama Review, 29:2 (1985).
  • LeCompte, Elizabeth, "500 Words: Elizabeth LeCompte," Art Forum (February 9, 2011).
  • Quick, Andrew, The Wooster Group Work Book (Routledge 2007).
  • Savran, David, Breaking the Rules: The Wooster Group (Theatre Communications Group 1993).
  • Savran, David, "The Death of the Avant Garde," The Drama Review 49:3 (2005).
  • Sterrit, David, "Pioneering a New Kind of Stage Magic," The Christian Science Monitor (December 14, 1981).
  • Yablonsky, Linda, "Elizabeth LeCompte," Bomb (Fall 1991).


External links[edit]