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Howe at the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony, June 2015
November 21, 1937 |
New York, New York
Tina Howe (born November 21, 1937) is an American playwright. She is the daughter of journalist Quincy Howe and was raised in a literary family. Over a career spanning more than three decades, Howe's best-known works are Painting Churches, Coastal Disturbances and Pride's Crossing.
Her works have won numerous awards, including the 1998 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play (Pride’s Crossing). Coastal Disturbances was nominated for the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play.
Howe was born in New York City to Quincy Howe, a CBS news commentator, and Mary Post Howe, an artist. She is the granddaughter of biographer Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe and the great-granddaughter of the first Episcopal Bishop of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Howe’s parents and grandmother were essential to her success as a writer. Howe's family focused on reading and writing: "Thanksgivings and family occasions were always about, 'What are you reading, what are you writing, what are you working on, what poetry are you interested in?'" Her grandfather, M. A. DeWolfe Howe was a poet who lived to be 96; and her uncle, Mark DeWolfe Howe, was a law professor at Harvard. Her grandfather passed his love of literature on to his sons and daughters, and they did the same. When Howe was ill with hepatitis, her father visited her every day in the hospital, reading James Joyce's Ulysses to her during his lunch break.
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After college, Howe spent a year in Paris, where she continued to write, and after returning to New York she earned her teaching credentials at Columbia University Teacher’s College and Chicago Teachers College. She started teaching high school in Monona Grove, Wisconsin, and then in Bath, Maine, which is where she says she learned her craft through running the drama department, a position she agreed to take on the terms that only her plays would be produced. Her first professionally produced play was The Nest in 1970.
Howe is noted as an innovative and experimental writer, with a strong affinity for absurdism, exploring the absurd in a more realistic setting. She wrote The Art of Dining, in 1979. Her play Painting Churches is one of her most critically successful works, winning the Outer Critics Circle Award for best Off-Broadway play in 1984. It was also produced by PBS's American Playhouse series in 1986. She won an Obie Award in 1983 for distinguished playwriting and was nominated for a Tony Award for Coastal Disturbances in 1987. This was followed by Approaching Zanzibar (1989) and One Shoe Off (1993). She received the New York Drama Critic's Circle Award for Best Play in 1998 for Pride’s Crossing (1997). In 2004, Howe penned English translations of Eugène Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and The Lesson, the latter of which was produced at the Atlantic Theater Company. The same company produced her play "Birth and After Birth" as part of its 2006–2007 mainstage season at the Linda Gross Theater.
Howe's plays have been produced around the United States, as well as abroad. Her plays have premiered in venues such as the Los Angeles Actor’s Theatre, the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Kennedy Center, and the Second Stage. She received a Rockefeller Grant (1984), two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Guggenheim fellowship (1990), an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature (1993), as well as honorary degrees from Whittier College (1997) and Bowdoin College (1998).
She has also taught master classes at NYU, UCLA, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon, she currently teaches playwrighting at Hunter College in New York City, and she has been a member of the council of the Dramatists Guild of America since 1990. Several of her works can be read in the volumes Coastal Disturbances: Four Plays by Tina Howe and Approaching Zanzibar and Other Plays.
Howe is married to historian Norman Levy, and the couple has two children. Her hobbies include water aerobics and Baroque music. For 25 years during her career, Howe wrote her plays while listening only to pianist Glenn Gould.
- Museum (1976)
- The Art of Dining (1979)
- Painting Churches (1983)
- Coastal Disturbances (1986)
- Approaching Zanzibar(1989)
- One Shoe Off (1993)
- East of the Sun and West of the Moon (1995)
- Pride's Crossing (1997)
- Rembrandt's Gift (2002)
- The Bald Soprano (English translation of Eugène Ionesco, 2004)
- The Lesson (English translation of Eugène Ionesco, 2004)
- Birth and After Birth (2006)
- Chasing Manet (2009)
Awards and nominations
- 1983 Obie Award for Distinguished Playwriting (winner)
- 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Painting Churches (finalist)
- 1984 Rockefeller Grant for Distinguished Playwriting (winner)
- 1987 Tony Award Best Play Coastal Disturbances (nominee)
- 1990 Guggenheim Fellowship (winner)
- 1993 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature (winner)
- 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Drama Pride's Crossing (finalist)
- 1998 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play (winner)
- 1998 Madge Evans & Sidney S. Kingsley Award (winner)
- 2005 William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater (winner)
- 2015 PEN/Laura Pels Award, Master American Dramatist
- Patton, Paige. "Baylor's Horton Foote Festival to Honor Award-Winning Playwright Tina Howe". Baylor University. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- "Painting Churches with One Shoe Off". Wheaton College. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Wood, Mike. "Brief biography of Tina Howe". The William Inge Center for the Arts. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
- Helen Howe, The Gentle Americans: Biography of a Breed (New York: Harper & Row, 1965)
- "Theater, THE BALD SOPRANO", The Villager, review and interview with Tina Howe, September 22–28, 2004
- BURIAN LECTURE, New York State Writers Institute, State University of New York, Albany, NY, February 8, 2000
- , American Theatre Wing biography, accessed June 20, 2012
- Tina Howe, Theatre Communications Group, accessed November 21, 2011
- Carolyn Kellogg (May 13, 2015). "PEN announces award-winners and shortlists". LA Times. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
- "2015 PEN Literary Award Winners". pen.org. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
- Internet Broadway Database listing for Tina Howe
- Internet Off-Broadway Database listing (Lortel Archives) for Tina Howe
- Complete list of Plays by Tina Howe
- filmreference.com, Tina Howe Biography (1937-)
- Internet Movie Database listing for Tina Howe
- Pulitzer Org. listing for Tina Howe, 1997 and 1984 showing finalist