Children of a Lesser God (play)

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Children of a Lesser God
Playbill from the original Broadway production
Written by Mark Medoff
Characters Sarah Norman
James Leeds
Orin Dennis
Mr. Franklin
Mrs. Norman
Edna Klein
Date premiered October 25, 1979 (1979-10-25)
Place premiered Mark Taper Forum
Los Angeles, California
Original language English
American Sign Language
Genre Drama
Phyllis Frelich and John Rubinstein in a scene from Children of a Lesser God

Children of a Lesser God is a play by Mark Medoff, published in 1979 focusing on the conflicted professional and romantic relationship between deaf former student, Sarah Norman, and her teacher, James Leeds. The play was specially written for the Deaf actress Phyllis Frelich, based to some extent on her relationship with her husband Robert Steinberg.[citation needed] It was originally developed from workshops and showcased at New Mexico State University, with Frelich and Steinberg in the lead roles. It was seen by Gordon Davidson, Director of the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, who insisted that the male role needed to be played by a more experienced professional actor.[citation needed]

Following a highly successful run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Broadway production, directed by Gordon Davidson, opened on March 30, 1980 at the Longacre Theatre, where it ran for 887 performances. The cast included Phyllis Frelich as Sarah and John Rubinstein as James. David Ackroyd later replaced Rubinstein. Deaf actress Elizabeth Quinn later replaced Frelich, and Linda Bove, another Deaf actress, best known to television audiences for her more-than-20-year-long run on Sesame Street had a successful turn in the role as well.

In 1981, the West End production ran originally at the Mermaid Theatre, then at the Albery Theatre, garnering three Olivier Awards. The production starred Trevor Eve and Elizabeth Quinn. Deaf actors from the UK were involved as understudies including Jean St Clair, Sarah Scott and Terry Ruane.

A Broadway revival is set to open on April 11, 2018 at Studio 54, directed by Kenny Leon and starring Joshua Jackson and Lauren Ridloff.[1]

Film adaptation[edit]

In 1986, Medoff adapted the play for film directed by Randa Haines, starring Marlee Matlin and William Hurt.

Awards and nominations[edit]



  1. ^ Hipes, Patrick (August 15, 2017). "Joshua Jackson To Make Broadway Debut As ‘Children Of A Lesser God’ Sets Dates". Retrieved August 15, 2017. 

External links[edit]