Guare, John

Alternative names
Birth 1938-02-05

Biographical notes:

John Guare, American playwright, was born in New York City on February 5, 1938 and raised in Jackson Heights, Queens. He was interested in theatre from a young age, writing his first play, "Universe," at age eleven. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University (1960) and his Master of Fine Arts from Yale School of Drama (1963). His early works were well-received comic one-act plays, including To Wally Pantoni, We Leave a Credenza (1964), Cop-Out (1968) and Muzzeha (1968). He received an Obie Award for Muzzeha but did not gain national attention until 1971, with his first full-length play, The House of the Blue Leaves . The play received an Obie Award and New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play. The same year, Two Gentlemen of Verona, won a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics (he shared this with co-writer Mel Shapiro), and in 1972 won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. With these two plays, Guare became known as a leading American dramatist.

Guare's plays are characterized as highly theatrical, exploring the bizarre and comic sides of human relationships and desires. Their settings are varied, including several based in nineteenth-century America. He has also been involved in musical theatre. Since his initial success in 1971, Guare has worked steadily and successfully.

The 1986 Broadway revival of The House of Blue Leaves won Guare four Tony Awards. His Six Degrees of Separation (1990) won an Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, London’s Olivier Award for Best Play, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. It was turned into a film in 1993. Two Gentlemen of Verona was revived in 2005 at the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park and Guare won (again sharing with Mel Shapiro) the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical.

Guare's other plays include Rich and Famous (1974); Landscape of the Body, for which he also wrote the songs (1977); Marco Polo Sings a Solo (1977); Bosoms and Neglect (1979); Lydie Breeze (1982); Gardenia (1982); The Race to Urga (1986); Women and Water (1990); Four Baboons Adoring the Sun (1992); Lake Hollywood (1999); Chaucer in Rome, sequel to The House of Blue Leaves (2001); and A Few Stout Individuals (2002). He also wrote the screenplay for Louis Malle's film Atlantic City (1980), for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

In addition to his work as a playwright, Guare is an influential leader in other areas of theatre. He was a founding member in 1965 of the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Connecticut and was a Resident Playwright at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1976. He currently teaches at the Yale School of Drama, co-produces the New Plays Reading Room Series at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, is a council member of the Dramatists Guild, and a co-editor of the Lincoln Center Theater Review. Other awards include the Award of Merit from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Awards for Drama.

From the guide to the John Guare papers, 1962-1995, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Theater--United States
  • Dramatists, American
  • Drama--20th century


  • Dramatists


not available for this record