Marshall W. Mason

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Marshall W. Mason (born February 24, 1940) is an American theater director, educator and author.[1] He was the founder and for eighteen years, artistic director of the Circle Repertory Company in New York City (1969-1987).

Born in Amarillo, Texas, Mason graduated in 1961 with a B.S. in theater from Northwestern University, where he directed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the age of 19, winning his first award for directing.[2] Upon graduating, he relocated to Manhattan, where he began working in the off-off-Broadway theater scene in such venues as Caffe Cino,[3] the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, and Judson Poets Theatre. He made his off-Broadway debut in 1964 with a revival of the Henrik Ibsen play Little Eyolf.[4] The following year he directed Balm in Gilead, his first collaboration with playwright Lanford Wilson. Since then he has directed more than sixty productions of Wilson's plays, which Playbill has identified as the longest collaboration between a playwright and director in the history of the American theater. Among these are The Hot l Baltimore (1973), for which he won his first Obie Award for Distinguished Direction, Fifth of July (1978), Talley's Folly (1979), Angels Fall (1983), Burn This (1987), [5] Redwood Curtain (1992), and Book of Days (2002).

Mason has directed twelve productions on Broadway and has been nominated for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play five times.[6] His first Broadway production was the 1976 play Knock Knock by Jules Feiffer, for which he received his first Tony nomination. Additional Broadway credits include Albert Innaurato's Gemini (1977), Robert Clark and Sam Bobrick's Murder at the Howard Johnson's (1979), Wilsons' Fifth of July (1980), Talley's Folly (1980), Angels Fall (1983), Peter Nichols' Passion (1983), William M. Hoffman's As Is (Drama Desk Award for Best Play, 1985), Wilson's Burn This (1988), Chekhov's The Seagull (1992), Rupert Holmes' Solitary Confinement (1992) and Wilson's Redwood Curtain (1992). Off-Broadway Mason was awarded five Obies for Outstanding Direction for The Hot l Baltimore (1973), the New York premiere of Tennessee Williams' Battle of Angels (1974), Wilson's The Mound Builders (1975), Jules Feiffer's Knock Knock (1976), Wilson's Serenading Louie (1976), and a sixth Obie Award for Sustained Achievement (1983). Memorable off-Broadway productions he directed include Edward J. Moore's The Sea Horse (1974), Romulus Linney's Childe Byron (1981), Wilson's Talley & Son (1985), William Mastrosimone's Sunshine (1989), Larry Kramer's The Destiny of Me (1992), Wilson's Sympathetic Magic (1997) and Book of Days (2002). Mason is the recipient of the 1979 Theatre World Award,[7] and the 1977 Margo Jones Award[8] for his discovery and nurturing of new playwrights and actors in his work with the Circle Repertory Company, as well as a 1999 "Mr. Abbott Special Millennium Award" as one of the most innovative and influential directors of the twentieth century.[9]

He has worked widely in regional theaters, including the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, Arena Stage and Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., the McCarter Theater in Princeton, the Hartford Stage Company, the Pittsburgh Public Theater, the Repertory Theater of St. Louis, the Cincinnati Playhouse, and the Milwaukee Rep. For one season (1988), he was Guest Artistic Director for the Ahmanson Theater of the Los Angeles Center Theater Group. In addition, he directed three productions in London and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the National Theatre of Japan in Tokyo. For television, he directed Picnic, The Mound Builders, Kennedy's Children, and Fifth of July.

Mason is Professor Emeritus of Theater at Arizona State University,[10] where he taught for ten years, and was honored with ASU’s 2001 Creative Activity Award. He is the author of the 2007 book Creating Life On Stage: A Director's Approach to Working with Actors.[11] He divides his time between his homes in Mazatlán and Manhattan. On 25 July 2011, the first Monday after New York State enacted its marriage equality law, Mason married his companion of 37 years and fellow theater artist, Daniel Irvine,[12]

Additional directing credits[edit]


  1. ^ "Who's Who in the World: 2010"
  2. ^ Creating Life On Stage at Google Books
  3. ^ "Return to the Caffe Cino: A Collection of Plays and Memoirs", edited by Stephen Susoyev and George Birimisa
  4. ^ The New York Times, March 17, 1963
  5. ^ [1] at the Lortel Archives]
  6. ^ "The Tony Award: A Complete Listing", edited by Isabelle Stevens
  7. ^ [2]",
  8. ^ "[3]"
  9. ^ [4]
  10. ^ [5]
  11. ^ Creating Life On Stage at Google Books
  12. ^ New York Post, July 25, 2011: "Wed at Last"

External links[edit]