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Lesbian playwright and director María Irene Fornés died on October 30th, 2018, after a prolonged struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 88 years old.
Cuban-born and New York based, Fornés created emotionally-fraught plays that challenged the strictures of traditional theater. With over 40 written plays, Fornés’ experimental, sometimes absurdist, work showcased characters who grappled with their desires and a perpetual need for self-determination and agency.
From The New York Times:
Her plays earned eight Obie awards, the Off Broadway equivalent of the Tonys, and she was given an Obie for lifetime achievement in 1982. But her only work to appear on Broadway, a 1966 comedy called “The Office,” directed by Jerome Robbins, closed in previews.
Still, over a long career during which she wrote dozens of plays, many of which she directed herself, and fostered the high-minded idea of the sovereign playwright by producing experimental plays and teaching a generation of younger playwrights, Ms. Fornés gained a reputation within the theater world as an underrecognized genius.
“She’s not spoken of as an important American playwright, and she should be,” the playwright Tony Kushner said in an interview for this obituary in 2013, adding: “She had terrifyingly high standards and was terribly blunt about what others did with her work. Her productions were unforgettable. She was really a magical maker of theater.”