Children of a Lesser God (play)
Children of a Lesser God is a play by Mark Medoff, focusing on the conflicted professional and romantic relationship between Sarah Norman, a deaf former student, and her teacher, James Leeds. The play, which premiered at the Mark Taper Forum, was produced on Broadway in 1980 and in the West End in 1981. The play won the 1980 Tony Award for Best Play.
|Children of a Lesser God|
Playbill from the original Broadway production
|Written by||Mark Medoff|
|Date premiered||October 25, 1979|
|Place premiered||Mark Taper Forum|
Los Angeles, California
American Sign Language
The play was specially written for the deaf actress Phyllis Frelich, based to some extent on her relationship with her husband Robert Steinberg. It was originally developed from workshops and showcased at New Mexico State University, with Frelich and Steinberg in the lead roles. It was seen by Gordon Davidson, Director of the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, who insisted that the male role needed to be played by a more experienced professional actor. The title comes from Tennyson: "For why is all around us here / As if some lesser god had made the world".
Following a highly successful run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Broadway production, directed by Gordon Davidson, opened on March 30, 1980 at the Longacre Theatre, where it ran for 887 performances. The cast included Phyllis Frelich as Sarah and John Rubinstein as James. David Ackroyd later replaced Rubinstein. Deaf actress Elizabeth Quinn later replaced Frelich, and Linda Bove, another Deaf actress, best known to television audiences for her more-than-30-year-long run on Sesame Street, had a successful turn in the role as well.
In 1981, the West End production ran originally at the Mermaid Theatre, then at the Albery Theatre, garnering three Olivier Awards. The production starred Trevor Eve and Elizabeth Quinn. Deaf actors from the UK were involved as understudies including Jean St Clair, Sarah Scott and Terry Ruane.
Awards and nominationsEdit
- 1980 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play- John Rubinstein
- 1980 Tony Award for Best Play
- 1980 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor- John Rubinstein
- 1980 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play
- 1981 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play
Original Broadway ProductionEdit
|1980||Tony Award||Best Play||Won|
|Best Actor in a Play||John Rubinstein||Won|
|Best Actress in a Play||Phyllis Frelich||Won|
|Best Direction of a Play||Gordon Davison||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding New Play||Won|
|Outstanding Actor in a Play||John Rubinstein||Won|
|Outstanding Actress in a Play||Phyllis Frelich||Nominated|
|Outstanding Director of a Play||Gordon Davison||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lighting Design||Tharon Musser||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding New Broadway Play||Won|
|Outstanding Debut Performance||Phyllis Frelich||Won|
Original West End ProductionEdit
|1981||Laurence Olivier Award||Play of the Year||Won|
|Best Actor||Trevor Eve||Won|
|Best Actress||Elizabeth Quinn||Won|
2018 Broadway RevivalEdit
|2018||Drama League Award||Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play||Nominated|
|Distinguished Performance Award||Joshua Jackson||Nominated|
|Tony Award||Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play||Lauren Ridloff||Nominated|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Actress in a Play||Lauren Ridloff||Nominated|
- Weber, Bruce. "Phyllis Frelich, Tony-Winning Actress and Deaf Activist, Dies at 70" The New York Times, April 14, 2014
- Hipes, Patrick (August 15, 2017). "Joshua Jackson To Make Broadway Debut As 'Children Of A Lesser God' Sets Dates". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
- Vine, Hannah (April 12, 2018). "Inside Opening Night for Children of a Lesser God". Playbill. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- "Olivier Awards, 1981" officiallondontheatre.com, retrieved May 6, 2018