Eric Bogosian Biography

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(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 Radio in 1987 led to Bogosian’s collaboration with film director Oliver Stone. The two expanded on the original play by including background material and incorporating elements from the life of Alan Berg, a Colorado radio talk-show host who had been murdered. The resulting film, in which Bogosian also starred, received a good deal of attention and was honored at the Berlin Film Festival. Capitalizing on his rising visibility as a performer, Bogosian landed a leading role in Robert Altman’s television adaptation of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (1988), and Bogosian’s next solo show, Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll, was filmed by director John McNaughton in 1991.

Bogosian continued making occasional acting appearances in television programs such as Law and Order and The Larry Sanders Show in the early 1990’s, and in 1994 he published his first novella, Notes from Underground. In 1994 Bogosian was quite busy. Theatre Communications Group published his early solo work along with Talk Radio in an anthology, The Essential Bogosian; he completed another award-winning solo show, Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead; and he wrote his second, full-length ensemble play, subUrbia. The next year he accepted a high-profile acting job as the villain in the action film Under Siege 2 (1995), and in 1996 he wrote the screenplay for director Richard Linklater’s adaptation of subUrbia. He remained busy during the remainder of the 1990’s, acting in small roles in films such as Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry (1997); writing another ensemble play, Griller; completing another solo show, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee; and publishing a novel, Mall. A New York resident, Bogosian is married to Jo Bonney, who has also directed several of his solo shows.


(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...

(The entire section is 1,549 words.)