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George Ferencz (born February 3, 1947) is an American theater director, producer, and teacher of Hungarian descent who first rose to fame with his productions of Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape(1976) and Dynamo (1976). A major name in American theater, he is renowned for his innovative stagings of plays and musicals by Sam Shepard, Eugene O'Neill, Amiri Baraka. He has taught Theater at Columbia University, Yale University and New York University. He co-founded the Impossible Ragtime Theater in 1975 with Pam Mitchell, Ted Story and Cynthia Crane. Ferencz is known for his extensive work with La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club where he was a resident director from 1982 to 2008. He has directed 19 Shepard productions including Shep’N’Rep (1979), Cowboy Mouth (1981), The Tooth of Crime (1983), and Shepard Sets (1984); the latter began Ferencz’s collaborative partnership with drummer/composer Max Roach. Ferencz’s other Off-and Off-Off-Broadway credits include Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie (1975), Paris Lights (1980), Battery (1981), Money: A Jazz Opera (1982), Harm’s Way (1985), Welcome Back to Salamaca (1988), Conjur Woman (2008), and Prague, 1912 (2017).
Born in Cleveland, he is the son of George and Anne Ferencz, the eldest of 6 siblings. Wanting to pursue a career as a writer, he became editor of the school newspaper at Padua High, an all-boys school. The first in his family to graduate from college, Ferencz got his degree in theatre from Kent State University. He moved to New York in 1970 and began studying directing with Gene Frankel and then with Carl Weber.
Regionally, he has worked with San Diego Rep, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Public, The Cleveland Playhouse, Syracuse Stage, as well as others. A few of Ferencz’s international credits include Percussion Summit (Verona, Italy, 1995), The Lady Aoi (Munich, Germany, 2000)
George Ferencz is Co-Founder and Co-Producer of the Impossible Ragtime Theater, and Founder Hispanic-American Music Theatre Lab with musical director Tito Puente
Honors and awards
- John J. Winters, Sam Shepard A Life, Counterpoint, Berkeley, 2017 ISBN 978-1-61902-708-4
- David J. DeRose, Sam Shepard, Twayne Publishers, New York, 1992 ISBN 0-8057-3964-5
- Matthew Roudane, The Cambridge Companion to Sam Shepard, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2002 ISBN 0-521-77158-7
- Mel Gussow, Theatre on the Edge: New Visions, New Voices, Applause, New York, 1998 ISBN 1-55783-311-7