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Richard Barr

Richard Barr

The Playwright's Producer

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David A. Crespy


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)


Theater in the Americas


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About the Book

In Richard Barr: The Playwright’s Producer, author David A. Crespy investigates the career of one of the theatre’s most vivid luminaries, from his work on the film and radio productions of Orson Welles to his triumphant—and final—production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Explored in detail along the way are the producer’s relationship with playwright Edward Albee, whose major plays such as A Zoo Story and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf Barr was the first to produce, and his innovative productions of controversial works by playwrights like Samuel Beckett, Terrence McNally, and Sam Shepard. Crespy draws on Barr’s own writings on the theatre, his personal papers, and more than sixty interviews with theatre professionals to offer insight into a man whose legacy to producers and playwrights resounds in the theatre world. Also included in the volume are a foreword and an afterword by Edward Albee, a three-time Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright and one of Barr’s closest associates. 


 David A. Crespy is professor of playwriting and dramatic literature at the University of Missouri at Columbia. He is the author of Off-Off Broadway Explosion.


“Thank you, David Crespy, for turning a brilliant and long overdue spotlight on the life and career of Richard Barr, one of the seminal figures of twentieth-century theater. Crespy reminds us how much of today’s theater finds its roots in Barr’s work as a discoverer, nurturer, and producer of new work, as a man who restructured a sclerotic commercial theater, as a man who changed the rules—in short, all the daring he learned as Orson Welles’s assistant in the legendary Mercury Theatre. Everyone working in theater today owes a debt to the remarkable Richard Barr.”—John Guare, playwright

“David Crespy’s book is a stellar parade and a fascinating portrait of a producer as a young, then mature, man. Richard Barr is a ‘present at the birth’ character, as he crosses our theatre’s history in too many ways to count. Now, thanks to Professor Crespy, we can be present too. We’re with him on his opening nights, including the joyous bloodlettings of Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd on Broadway. We can stumble upon an intrepid line of gay men waiting for tickets to the pre-Stonewall run of The Boys in the Band and grieve a community decimated by AIDS. We can witness the passion of a man who would hock his house to put a play up. If you care about the American theatre, Barr is a man to know.”—Todd London, artistic director, New Dramatists