BIOGRAPHY | Craig Lucas


Craig Lucas is an American playwright, screenwriter, theatre director, musical actor, and film director. He began his career as a New York-based playwright in the 1980’s. The success of his screenplay for the 1990 film Longtime Companion established him as an important contributor to the dramatic literature born of the AIDS Crisis. Although Lucas is identified with the gay theater community of his time, the characteristic themes of his work address broad issues of life’s absurdity and the arbitrary nature of fate. Lucas’s embrace of absurdity is reflected in the story of his origins.

He began life in Dickensian style, as a foundling, abandoned in the back of a car in Atlanta, beside a plaintive note from his mother explaining that she could not care for her child. His adoptive parents raised him outside Philadelphia, where his father worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His mother encouraged Lucas’s love for acting and singing. An early interest in writing poems and plays led him to the study of creative writing at Boston University, with an opportunity to study with poet Anne Sexton, who gently suggested that perhaps playwriting was his métier. He credits Sexton with helping him gain admission to the Yale School of Drama and also with encouraging him to skip graduate school and plunge right into the world of professional theater in New York.


Lucas’s first job in New York was as a chorus performer in musical theater, and his career as a playwright has often been punctuated by collaboration with musicians. Indeed, his first produced work was a revue based on musicals by the acclaimed composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. The show, Marry Me a Little, also inaugurated Lucas’s collaboration with Norman René, with whom Lucas worked closely until René’s death from AIDS complications in 1996.

Craig Lucas has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, the Rockefeller Foundations, and The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. He has received the Tony Award nomination for the books An American in Paris (2015), Light in the Piazza (2005), and Prelude to a Kiss. He was nominated for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Prelude to a Kiss.

After penning the screenplay for Prelude starring Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin; Lucas was quoted as saying:

“When Alec Baldwin kissed the old man onstage [in Prelude to a Kiss], the audience in the theater went, ‘Awww.’ When he kissed him in the film, you would have thought I brought a Rwandan child out and cut his head off. [Laughs] The studio said: Let’s make it a hug instead. And I said: Well, then we’d have to call it Prelude to a Hug. I didn’t come to the film with the adventuresome spirit that you need to take a play and rethink it. If I had the foresight, I would have made a more playful picture.”


Prelude to a Kiss | Jun 07-22, 2019