Craig Lucas was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1951 and attended Boston University, where he studied with poet Anne Sexton and historian Howard Zinn. He credits Sexton with encouraging him to switch from poetry to plays; she also helped him get into Yale Drama School but then urged him to forgo graduate school for a career in New York. Initially focused on acting and performing in the chorus of musicals, Lucas found another mentor in Stephen Sondheim and began his writing career by fashioning a show composed of discarded Sondheim songs. The revue, entitled Marry Me a Little, was produced with director Norman René, the first of many collaborations between the two. After some success writing for the New York stage, Lucas turned to screenwriting with Longtime Companion (1990), a film about a group of gay friends responding to the onset of the AIDS epidemic, and one of the first Hollywood vehicles to acknowledge the disease. A play written about the same time, Prelude to a Kiss, then became a film starring Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin in 1992. Subsequently Lucas has focused both on dramas with a tragic focus, such as The Dying Gaul, and on works with music, such as his opera libretti with scores by Gerald Busby. His work has been nurtured by several not-for-profit theater groups, including South Coast Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Playwrights Horizons, Circle Repertory, Atlantic Theater Company, and A Contemporary Theatre.