Donald Margulies Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Although Donald Margulies’ reputation is based on his stage plays, he has also written for the following television series: Divorced Kids’ Blues (1986), Baby Boom (1988), and Once and Again (1999). His adaptation of Dinner with Friends was produced in 2001 for Home Box Office (HBO). Two important nonfiction works are an autobiographical article in The New York Times (1992) and the transcript of his participation in a Dramatists Guild-sponsored panel discussion with fellow playwrights Wendy Wasserstein and Christopher Durang on ethics and responsibilities in modern theater (1986).


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Donald Margulies has experienced critical success and major honors in regional theater and Off-Broadway. His 1989 black comedy The Loman Family Picnic was a Drama Desk Award nominee and was selected as a best play in the Burns Mantle Theater Yearbook. His play about a Jewish American painter, Sight Unseen, was a huge breakthrough; for this play, Margulies received the Obie Award for Best New American Play and the Dramatists Guild/Hull-Warriner Award and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and Pulitzer Prize. In 1996, Margulies’ poignant play about the betrayal of a writer by her protégée, Collected Stories, won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Play and the Drama-Logue Award; it was also nominated for the Drama Desk and Dramatists Guild/Hull-Warriner Awards and Pulitzer Prize.

Margulies’ most commercially successful play, Dinner with Friends, a bittersweet meditation on modern marriage, won the American Theater Critics Association’s New Play Award, Dramatists Guild/Hull-Warriner Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Margulies was elected to the Dramatists Guild Council in 1993 and has received grants from Creative Artists Public Service, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He received the 2000 Sidney Kingsley Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Theater.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Boles, William C. “Donald Margulies.” In Twentieth-Century American Dramatists, edited by Christopher J. Wheatley. Vol. 228 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale, 2000. Provides a comprehensive overview of Margulies’s plays, exploring recurring themes.

Bossler, Gregory. “Donald Margulies.” The Dramatist (July/August, 2000): 4-14. Bossler’s sweeping interview covers Margulies’ art background, his contributions to theater, and his work as a professor of playwriting.

Durang, Christopher, Wendy Wasserstein, Donald Margulies, and Jeffrey Sweet. “Ethics and Responsibilities.” The Dramatists Guild Quarterly (Summer, 1986): 15-23. Margulies makes valuable contributions to a discussion with other young playwrights about the responsibilities of artists regarding ethics in society.

Margulies, Donald. “A Playwright’s Search for the Spiritual Father.” The New York Times, June 21, 1992, sec. 2, p. 5. A very personal essay, explaining much about the playwright’s early writing.

Margulies, Donald. Sight Unseen and Other Plays. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1996. In addition to Found a Peanut, Sight Unseen, The Loman Family Picnic, What’s Wrong with This Picture?, and The Model Apartment, this edition contains Margulies’ “Afterword,” an invaluably insightful essay about his early life, originally published as “A Playwright’s Search for the Spiritual Father,” June 21, 1992, in The New York Times. Critic Michael Feingold’s useful essay, “Donald Margulies, or What’s an American Playwright?,” is also included.

Schlueter, June. “Ways of Seeing in Donald Margulies’ Sight Unseen.” Studies in American Drama, 1945-Present 8, no. 1 (1993): 3-11. Schlueter emphasizes perception of self and others as an important layer in this complex play.