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Christopher Durang dies at 75: Tony-winning playwright and satirist has passed away

Tony-winning playwright and satirist Christopher Durang, who was also an actor, has died at the age of 75 

Christopher Durang dies at 75: Tony-winning playwright and satirist has passed away© Christopher Durang dies at 75: Tony-winning playwright and satirist has passed away. The late Christopher Durang, winner of Best Play for 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike' attended The 67th Annual Tony Awards Paramount Hotel Winners' Room at Radio City Music Hall on June 9, 2013 in New York City

Tony-winning playwright actor and satirist Christopher Durang has passed away at the age of 75. His agent Patrick Herold revealed that he had died from logopenic primary progressive aphasia, a neurodegenerative disease. In The New York Times, Al Franken, a former senator and comedian shared his memories of Christopher Durang.

Al Franken said that “His plays such as “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You” and “Vanya and Sonia, and Masha and Spike,” for which he won a Tony, are classics. But mostly, Chris was a delightful man with a big heart and brilliant wit.”

One of Christoper Durang’s most popular plays, 'Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All,’ was written in 1979 and a film version starring Diane Keaton who played the title character, was also made. 

Christopher Durang wrote Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike which won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play. According to Christopher Durang’s website, “The play is set in the present day in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in a farm house Vanya and his step-sister Sonia have lived in all their lives.  They jointly took care of their ailing, doddering parents for many years while their movie star sister Masha was gallivanting around the world, having a life.  The play takes place on a weekend when Masha shows up with a new twenty something boy toy named Spike.”

Hollywood actress Sigourney Weaver starred as Masha and the play was described by Variety as “brainy and witty and clever and cute.” Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike became a hit when it debuted on Broadway in 2013 and the play also starred David Hyde Pierce.

Although Christopher Durang was better known as a playwright, he was also an actor too and starred in movies such as ‘The Cowboy Way,’ ‘Housesitter’ and ‘The Secret of My Success,’ and played the part of Davis. The 1987 movie The Secret of My Success is best known for the lead actor in the movie, Michael J. Fox. 

Christopher Durang also had success with the play ‘Miss Witherspoon,’ which he wrote. The play, which was a black comedy, was one of three finalists for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, it was also named as one of the ten best plays of 2005 by Time Magazine and Newsday. 

Christopher Durang also wrote the play ‘Baby with the Bathwater’, which premiered in 1983, the play was about parents who are not prepared for parenthood and when they bring their newborn home, they cannot decide on a name for him. Christopher Durang described the play on his website as a “dark comedy about how difficult it is to be a parent, and how scary it is to be a baby and a child. The play is written in an absurdist, playful style and, for all its dark topic, has a hopeful ending.”

Playwright Christopher Durang was born on January 2, 1949, his father was an architect who fought in World War 11, and his mother was a secretary, the couple split up when Christopher was a teenager. As a child Christopher was taken to musicals by his mother and studied English at Harvard College. 

The Washington Post reported that it was whilst he was at Harvard College that “ he slipped into a deep depression that was exacerbated, he said, by his parents’ divorce and by his realisation that he was gay, at a time when homosexuality was still widely criminalised.”

Christopher Durang is survived by his partner, writer and actor John Augustine, the pair had performed together in a cabaret show, entitled ‘Chris Durang and Dawne.’ 

Story by Marina Licht: National World: 

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