After a slow start, Wallace Shawn established himself as a leading writer in the Off-Broadway theater. His first play to receive a major production, Our Late Night, as staged by André Gregory’s Manhattan Project at the Public Theatre, received an Obie Award in 1975. His play Aunt Dan and Lemon shared that same award with several other plays in 1985. The Fever won the Obie Award for Best Play of 1991; in accepting the award, he expressed surprise, because he did not consider the lengthy monologue to be a play. Shawn’s work, though often taking as its subject extremely violent thoughts or antisocial behavior, has been praised for its accuracy in representing the emotional qualities of contemporary American life. His plays make unusual demands on audiences, who must respond to his characters with comic insight and intellectual energy. Shawn’s distinctive voice is one of insidiously timid argumentation, an impression that is reinforced by his frequent appearances as a humorously innocuous character in contemporary films, yet he is also capable of writing shrill, viscerally affecting drama. Shawn’s major works are distinctively unconventional, and he is among the most provocative writers in the U.S. theater.