Sybille Pearson

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Sybille Pearson
Born (1937-01-25) January 25, 1937 (age 79)
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Occupation Playwright
Genre Drama

Sybille Pearson (born January 25, 1937, in Prague, Czechoslovakia)[1] is a playwright, musical theatre lyricist and librettist.


Pearson was a graduate student in the creative writing program at the City College of New York in 1980, when her play, the two-person comedy-drama Sally and Marsha was chosen to be produced at the Playwrights Conference, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Waterford, Connecticut.[2] The play was subsequently produced Off-Broadway by the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1982, and starred Bernadette Peters and Christine Baranski. The reviewer for The Associated Press wrote that "It has some well-written passages, some warm, moving moments and a goodly share of funny lines...Miss Pearson has talent, no question. But I hope someday she flees the pack of local scriveners who think West Side woe, shrinks and trips to Bloomingdale's are worth writing about."[3]

She wrote the book for the musical Baby, which ran on Broadway in 1984,[4][5] and for which she was nominated for a Tony Award.[6]

Her play Phantasie was performed at the Vineyard Theatre in January 1989. It was called "perceptive" by Mel Gussow in his New York Times review.[7] Her play Unfinished Stories was produced at the Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles, California) in 1992 and by the New York Theatre Workshop in 1994.[8] Unfinished Stories received a citation from the American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award for 1993.[9] Pearson's play with music True History and Real Adventures was produced Off-Broadway by the Vineyard Theatre in 1999, directed by Michael Mayer and starring Kathleen Chalfant.[10]

Pearson's plays also include Watching the Dog, Be Bold and Promise Me.[5][11]

In April 2009, the Signature Theatre (Arlington, Virginia) premiered Giant, a musical adaptation of Edna Ferber's 1952 novel of the same name, with a book by Pearson and music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa.[12]

Grants and honors[edit]

In 1981 Pearson was one of eight playwrights to receive a grant through the Rockefeller Foundation fellowship program; the grant was $9,000 for a six-week residency at a theater of their choice.[13]

In 2004, she was chosen for The Sundance Playwrights Retreat in The Sundance Institute Theatre Program.[14] She was a Creative Advisor for the 2009 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at White Oak.[15]


Pearson is a full-time professor at the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.[5]



  1. ^ Biography, accessed February 18, 2011
  2. ^ (no author). "O'Neill Center to Stage Play By Graduate Student", The New York Times, May 31, 1980, p. 15
  3. ^ Sharbutt, Jay. "'Sally and Marsha' Bows Off-Broadway", The Associated Press, February 22, 1982, BC cycle, Dateline:New York (no page number)
  4. ^ Rich, Frank."Stage Review: 'Baby,' A Musical Exploring Parenthood"The New York Times, December 5, 1983
  5. ^ a b c Biography New York University, accessed February 18, 2011
  6. ^ "Tony Awards, nominees, 'Baby', 1984", accessed February 18, 2011
  7. ^ Gussow, Mel."Review/Theater; Seeking a Lost Mother To Find a Lost Self"New York Times, January 4, 1989
  8. ^ Pearson, Sybille."Script, 'Unfinished Stories'"Unfinished Stories, Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1993, ISBN 0-8222-1351-6, pp. 2-3
  9. ^ "History of Steinberg ATCA Award", accessed February 19, 2011
  10. ^ Gates, Anita."Review, 'True History and Real Adventures'"The New York Times (printed in The New York Times Theatre Reviews 1999-2000), Taylor & Francis, 2002 ISBN 0-415-93697-7, p. 226
  11. ^ Plays by Sybille Pearson, accessed February 18, 2011
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Cleale, Dossett, Blazer, Robinson and More Begin Giant, the Musical, Run April 28 in VA,", April 28, 2009
  13. ^ (no author). Cultural Desk. "8 Playwrights Get Fellowships", The New York Times, June 23, 1981, pC7
  14. ^ Jones, Kenneth.Playwrights and Composers Chosen for 2004 Sundance/Ucross Residency on Wyoming Ranch", January 22, 2004
  15. ^ "Press Release: Sundance Institute Announces Acting Company For 2009 Theatre Lab" Sundance Institute, October 26, 2009

External links[edit]