Eric Bogosian Biography


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Eric Bogosian grew up in the suburbs in Woburn, Massachusetts, participating in theater at his local high school and enrolling in the University of Chicago. He dropped out of college in 1973 and returned to Woburn, where he worked as an assistant manager at a Gap store in the local mall before transferring to the theater department at Oberlin College, from which he was graduated. In 1975 he moved to New York City and began pursuing a writing career. After arriving in New York, he immersed himself in the world of theater and performance art and began contributing ensemble plays by the end of the 1970’s. To help make ends meet, he learned to capitalize on his talents as a performer by creating monologues that he could produce inexpensively. This work brought him to the attention of producer Joseph Papp, and Bogosian appeared in the producer’s Shakespeare Festival in 1982. During the early 1980’s, Bogosian continued to develop his solo work, completing his first two solo shows, and in 1984 he completed a version of his first full-length ensemble play, Talk Radio. He also began to land sporadic acting jobs on television in such programs as Miami Vice and The Twilight Zone.

In 1986 he completed a longer collection of monologues, Drinking in America, for which he received an Obie Award and which was subsequently shortened and filmed as part of a comedy special on Cinemax. A successful New York production of Talk...

(The entire section is 516 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Eric Bogosian (buh-GOHZH-yuhn) describes himself as is “a creator of monologues and solo shows,” a playwright, a screenwriter, an actor, a novelist, a solo performer, and “a candidate for intensive Prozac therapy.” Besides being one of the most talented, funny, versatile, and restlessly creative people in show business, Bogosian is also one of the United States’ fiercest and most trenchant social critics, a writer and performer often (and justly) compared to Lenny Bruce for the outrageous intensity and moral seriousness of his work.

Bogosian was born April 24, 1953, and raised in Woburn, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb he describes as “comatose, a dying factory city.” (Woburn is notorious as the site of the water pollution case dramatized by the 1998 film A Civil Action.) Bogosian’s interest in theater began at Woburn High School, where he acted in school plays. He started college at the University of Chicago in the fall of 1971 but had dropped out by the spring of 1973. After a stint as an assistant manager of a Gap store, Bogosian decided to give college another try. He recalls thinking that “since I was doing nothing with my life anyway, I might as well do nothing in college. And since (this was my reasoning) college was pointless, I might as well be doing something pointless I enjoyed.” He transferred to Oberlin College, where he majored in theater.

After graduating from Oberlin in 1975, Bogosian relocated to New York City, where he took a job as a director’s “gofer” at the Chelsea Westside Theater and began to immerse himself in the vibrant SoHo art scene. Bogosian next found work directing dance productions at The Kitchen, a venue for performance art, video art, and new music. In 1977, he debuted in Careful Moment, his one-man show at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church that featured an array of colorful urban characters. In 1979, Bogosian invented a persona: Ricky Paul, an insufferable “comedian” who had, in his creator’s words, “nothing positive to say about anybody or anything and reveled in the paranoia and decay of the modern world.” As intended, The Ricky Paul Show provoked audiences, sometimes to the point of rioting, and Bogosian recalls that he “began to understand the power of the spoken word, especially when uttered in the face of the fragility of people’s beliefs.”

After several years of performing in various one-man shows, Bogosian wrote, directed, and performed in The New World, a three-act,...

(The entire section is 1033 words.)