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Tina's father is the journalist Quincy Howe.
Tina Howe graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, after which she spent a year writing in Paris.
Howe graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, in 1959. As an undergraduate, she wrote her first play, Closing Time, directed by her classmate, Jane Alexander, who also acted in it.
Howe’s first full-length play to receive a professional production was The Nest, which premiered in the summer of 1969 at the Act IV Theater in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It was directed by Larry Arrick and the cast included Sally Kirkland and Richard Jordan among others. From Provincetown, the show was transferred Off-Broadway to New York's Mercury Theater, opening on April 9, 1970.
Her play Museum, with a cast of 55 characters, premiered at the Los Angeles Actors' Theatre on April 29, 1976, and was then presented Off-Broadway by Joseph Papp at the Public Theater, opening in February 1978, in a production directed by Max Stafford-Clark. A cast of 18 actors played a total of 44 characters. The play takes place at a group art show of three contemporary artists, titled The Broken Silence. The Public Theater production featured Dianne Wiest, Kathryn Grody and Larry Bryggman. A CurtainUp reviewer noted that Howe "explained in her author's note for the play's premiere at the Shakespeare Festival, her large cast of characters was created to provide directors and producers with endless staging possibilities." In her note in the script (published by Samuel French), Howe wrote: "It is my hope that any group wanting to present Museum use the large cast size as a challenge and not as a restriction. The play was written to serve the versatility of actors."
The Art of Dining is set in an exclusive restaurant (and home) moving from the kitchen of the chef/owner, to the dining room, where her husband is the maitre d', to the individual tables of the characters, observing their action and interplay while waiting for and eating their meals. The play was first presented Off-Broadway by Joseph Papp at the Public Theater in December 1979, in a production directed by A. J. Antoon with a cast featuring Kathy Bates, Ron Rifkin and Dianne Wiest, who went on to win the 1980 Clarence Derwent Award and Obie Award.
Howe herself won an Obie Award in 1983 for distinguished playwriting for her plays The Art of Dining, Museum and Painting Churches. From New York, The Art of Dining moved to a run at the Kennedy Center.
Howe's next play, Painting Churches, premiered on February 8, 1983 at Second Stage Theater, under the direction of Carole Rothman. The cast included Marian Seldes, Frances Conroy and Donald Moffat. It transferred to the off-Broadway Lambs Theater where it ran from November 22, 1983 through May 20, 1984, playing 206 performances. In this production Marian Seldes was joined by Elizabeth McGovern and George Martin. Painting Churches won several Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Off-Broadway Play, Best Actress (Marian Seldes) and the John Gassner Playwriting Award. The play was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.
The play has been produced throughout the U.S. and internationally. In 1986, it was filmed for PBS's American Playhouse, directed by Jack O’Brien. That cast included Sada Thompson, Donald Moffat and Roxanne Hart. It was revived off-Broadway by the Keen Company in March 2012, directed by Carl Forsman, starring Kathleen Chalfant, John Cunningham, and Kate Turnbull.
In November 1986, Howe's next play, Coastal Disturbances premiered at Second Stage, under the direction of Carole Rothman. Set on a New England beach, the set held six tons of sand. Annette Bening and Tim Daly led the cast. The play was transferred to the Circle-in-the-Square Theater on Broadway in March, 1987. It was nominated for a Tony award for Best Play along with Carole Rothman for Best Direction and Annette Bening for Best Actress. Frank Rich of The New York Times hailed it as "Hilarious, erotic and intoxicating"; John Simon in New York magazine wrote, "Exhilarating and wonderful".
This was followed by Approaching Zanzibar, which shows the Blossom family traveling across the United States to visit Olivia, a sick relative. The play premiered at the Second Stage Theatre on April 8, 1989, directed by Carole Rothman, and starred Jane Alexander as Charlotte Blossom, Harris Yulin as her husband, Angela Goethals as her daughter and Bethel Leslie as her dying aunt. The play was produced at the Southwark Playhouse, London in August 1997. The reviewer for The Independent wrote: "...a zany, expertly mimed sequence throws the tensions of cooped-up family car travel into rollicking relief when, in fantasy, the parents and children swap roles. But, like so much off-Broadway fare, the play insists on coating the pill of pain in the sickly sugar of false reassurance."
One Shoe Off opened Off-Broadway in April 1993 in a Second Stage Theatre production at the Public Theater. The Variety reviewer described the play as "the dining-room play that dissolves in an emotive crossfire of accusation, revelation and reconciliation", "offbeat, sometimes ferociously funny" with an "over-the-top tone".
Her play Pride’s Crossing, described by Playbill as a "family-inspired memory play" was produced Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center from December 7, 1997 to April 5, 1998 after an engagement at the Old Globe Theatre (San Diego) in 1997. The play was revived Off-Broadway in 2004. She received the New York Drama Critic's Circle Award for Best Play in 1998 for this play.
She received a Rockefeller Grant (1984), two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Guggenheim fellowship (1990), and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature (1993). Howe was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D) degree from Whittier College in 1997 and Honoris causa, Doctor of Letters from Bowdoin College (1998).
The play was revived Off-Broadway by the Keen Company in 2002, directed by Carl Forsman. In his Village Voice review, Michael Feingold wrote, “This is the most enchantingly tesserated play ever written….If Mozart had been a TV producer, this is what a 'Candid Camera' segment on art might have looked like.”
Rembrandt's Gift premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2002, directed by John Rando and starring Penny Fuller and a revised version was produced by the Madison Repertory Theatre (Wisconsin) in September 2005. The three person play focuses on an "unlikely, poignant and very funny visit by the great 17th-century Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn.
Howe wrote English translations of Eugène Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and The Lesson, which were produced at the Atlantic Theater Company in September 2004. The plays were directed by Carl Forsman and featured Jan Maxwell, John Ellison Conlee, Michael Countryman and Robert Stanton.
She received the William Inge Theatre Festival Award in 2005. In 2007 she received the Horton Foote Award, presented at the Baylor University Horton Foote American Playwrights Festival.
The Atlantic Theater Company presented Birth and After Birth Off-Broadway at the Linda Gross Theater, opening in September 2006 in previews. Described by Playbill as "a play about parenting", the play was written in 1972; it was directed by Atlantic associate artistic director Christian Parker. The play was first presented at the Wilma Theatre (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) in September 1995, after being rewritten and having readings, and a workshop at the California State University Summer Arts Festival. The reviewer of this production wrote: "The play bears the mark of a youthful playwright. Howe's brilliant mind is teeming with enough ideas to fill several plays, and her themes and style at times suggest an early fascination with older playwrights such as Ionesco and Albee." Birth and After Birth is "a comedy... in which a self-centered, tantrum-throwing monster of a 4-year-old is played by a fully grown adult male."
Chasing Manet opened Off-Broadway at Primary Stages in April 2009, starring Jane Alexander and Lynn Cohen. The play takes place in a nursing home, with the "rebellious painter" and a Jewish woman becoming friends and planning on escaping to go to Paris abord the QE2. Jane Alexander is a friend of Howe's from Sarah Lawrence.
In 2012, she received the 3rd Annual Lilly Award Lifetime Achievement Award. The Lilly Awards were created to "recognize the extraordinary contributions made by women to the American Theater."
Howe provided the text for the interdisciplinary work Cheri, conceived, directed and choreographed by Martha Clarke, which opened Off-Broadway in a Signature Theatre Company production at the Pershing Square Signature Center-Irene Diamond Stage on November 19, 2013 in previews.
She was a Visiting Professor of playwriting and Playwright in Residence at Hunter College in New York City, retiring in 2015. She was the head of the two year MFA playwriting program which began in 2010. (Annie Baker has taken the position formerly held by Howe.)
Her full-length play Singing Beach premiered Off-Broadway at HERE Arts Center on July 22, 2017 in previews in a limited engagement, produced by Theatre 167. Directed by Ari Laura Kreith, the cast featured Erin Beirnard, Devin Haqq, Jackson Demott Hill, John P. Keller, Tuck Milligan, Elodie Morss, and Naren Weiss. The play involves the effects that a Category 4 hurricane has on the Sleeper family and is concerned with climate change.
She was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame for 2017. At the ceremony in November 2017 at the Gershwin Theatre, she was introduced by her long-time friend Jane Alexander, who said "She has passion, wit and absurdity.... [her plays are an] operatic dive into the depths.... She writes as no one else does about women...”
Currently, Tina Howe is 83 years old. Tina Howe will celebrate 84th birthday on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Below we countdown to Tina Howe upcoming birthday.