Lee Breuer (born 1937) is an American playwright, theater director, academic, educator, film maker, poet and lyricist.
Lee Breuer is a founding co-artistic director of Mabou Mines Theater Company in New York City, which he began in 1970 with colleagues Philip Glass, Ruth Maleczech, JoAnne Akalaitis, David Warrilow, and Frederick Neumann.
Breuer's most recent work La Divina Caricatura: Part I The Shaggy Dog was co-produced by Mabou Mines, piece by piece productions, Dovetail Productions and co-presented by St. Ann's Warehouse and La MaMa etc. La Divina is a Bunraku Puppet Pop-Opera which Breuer both wrote and directed. In a review of the December 2013 premiere, the New York Times called "La Divina"- "...strange, singular, perfectly self-contained and so wondrous that it may leave you in a daze."
His previous Mabou Mines production include, "Red Beads" created in collaboration with puppeteer Basil Twist and composer Ushio Torikai. Of the September 2005 New York City premiere, the New York Times said: "… theater as sorcery; it is a crossroads where artistic traditions meet to invent a marvelous common language. It is a fairy tale, a puppet play and a chamber opera… amazing work."'Mabou Mines Dollhouse, a deconstruction of the Ibsen classic, won 2004 Obie Awards for Best Director and Best Performance. The production toured nationally and internationally to more than 30 cities on 5 continents. Breuer directed high definition video adaptation of stage production for Arte television France, which was aired throughout Europe.
Much of Breuer's previous work with Mabou Mines premiered at The Public Theater (NYC) under the patronage of the late Joseph Papp, and at the La Mama Experimental Theater Club under the patronage of Ellen Stewart. These include his Obie-winning adaptation of three works by Samuel Beckett: Play, Come and Go and The Lost Ones.
He authored/directed Mabou Mines' trilogy, Animations, including The B Beaver, The Red Horse and The Shaggy Dog Animation, which was awarded the Obie for Beat Play in 1978. In 1980 Breuer received two Obies for writing and direction of his play, A Prelude to a Death in Venice. He also wrote and directed An Epidog, the winner of the President's Commission Kennedy Center-American Express Award for Best New Work.
The Gospel at Colonus
Breuer's best-known work is The Gospel at Colonus, a Pentecostal Gospel rendering of Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, created with composer Bob Telson and starring Morgan Freeman and Clarence Fountain. It premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's "Next Wave Festival". It was later performed on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in 1988 for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. The production received numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination (1988), the Obie for Best Musical (1984), and an Emmy.
The Gospel at Colonus would go on to performances worldwide (Paris, Spoleto, Edinburgh, Moscow, Barcelona, London, Avignon). It was recreated for the 70th Anniversary of New York's legendary Apollo Theater for two weeks in the fall of 2004 starring Charles S. Dutton and Jevetta Steele.
In 1981, with Ruth Maleczech, Lee Breuer directed The Tempest for Joseph Papp's Shakespeare in the Park, starring Raul Julia. Breuer and Maleczech's daughter Clove Galilee played "Young Miranda" in the production.
Lee Breuer's music-theater collaborations as author and director with Bob Telson include Sister Suzie Cinema, which premiered at The Public Theater and was televised on the PBS series, "Alive from Off Center".
Lee Breuer has directed 13 Obie Award winning productions over a period of more than 40 years including: David Warrilow in The Lost Ones (1974); Bill Raymond in A Prelude to Death in Venice (1979); Ruth Maleczech in Hajj (1986); Yoshida Tamamatsu in The Warrior Ant (1990); Ruth Maleczech, Isabel Monk, Karen Kandel and Greg Mehrten in Mabou Mines Lear (1991); Karen Kandel in Peter and Wendy (1997); and Maude Mitchell in Mabou Mines Dollhouse (2004).
His involvement outside of the U.S. includes directing "Yi Sang Counts to Thirteen" by Sung Rno, which had its debut in Seoul, Korea at the Seoul Theater Festival 2000.
Lee taught an acting workshop in New Delhi, India during the summer of 2011 where he wrote and directed a workshop production of La Divina Caricatura. Divina is a Bunraku pop-opera that uses puppetry and draws from the traditional format of Indian epics such as the Mahabharata.
Fellowships, awards, et al
Breuer has been:
- John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow
- Bunting Fellow
- Guggenheim Fellow
- Fulbright Fellow (twice)
- Asian Cultural Council grantee
He was a Japan-United States Friendship Commission exchange fellow and delivered the inaugural lectures for the Beckett Chair at Trinity College, Dublin, supported by a grant from CIES.
In 1998, Breuer, was awarded an honorary degree from California Institute of the Arts.
Breuer has taught at the Yale University School of Drama (1986–99); Stanford University (1995–99); UC Santa Cruz (1994); Arizona State University West (1992–93) and Harvard University (Writers and Directors Seminar, 1981).
Breuer's books include:
- La Divina Caricature (Green Integer Series, Sun and Moon Press)
- Animations (Performing Arts Journal Publication)
- Sister Suzie Cinema: The Collected Poems and Performances, 1976-1986
- The Gospel at Colonus (both Theater Communications Group publications)
- The Warrior Ant, illustrated by Swan Weil (Vincent Fitzgerald Press)
Lee Breuer was born February 6, 1937 to Joseph Bloomingthale Breuer and Sara Etta Leopold. He has five children: Clove Galilee and Lute Breuer with Ruth Maleczech, Alex Klimovitsky with Polina Klimovitskaya, Joseph Lorwin with Liza Lorwin and Wah Mohn with Leslie Mohn; and two granddaughters, Bella and Ruma the children of his son Lute and Martha Elliot. He has resided in Delaware, North Carolina, Chicago, Long Island, Virginia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Greece, Paris, Morocco, London, Bali, India and Brooklyn where, since 1999 he has lived with his partner Maude Mitchell. He has taught and directed on six continents.
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