JoAnne Akalaitis Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

JoAnne Akalaitis is known primarily as a playwright, director, and actor. Her tribute, “Meeting Beckett,” appeared in the Fall, 1990, issue of The Drama Review. She directed the film version of Dead End Kids in 1986.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

JoAnne Akalaitis and Mabou Mines, the theater company that she helped form in 1969, are best known for their contributions to multimedia, collaborative work. Akalaitis has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the New York State Creative Artists Public Service Program. Mabou Mines did not originally consider itself to be performance theater. Its conceptual collaborations, such as Red Horse Animation (1970) and The Saint and the Football Player (1976), evolved slowly, taking place first as visual performance pieces in New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Berkeley and Pasadena art museums. Other multimedia events by Akalaitis include performances with the 1976 American Dance Festival. Composer Philip Glass, who was once married to Akalaitis, provided music for Mabou Mines in such productions as Dressed Like an Egg and Dead End Kids, which was the only New York avant-garde play included in the Toronto Theatre Festival in 1980. She has won three Obie Awards and in August, 1991, succeeded Joseph Papp as director of the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Public Theatre, a position she maintained until early 1993.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Akalaitis, JoAnne. Interview by Jonathan Kalb. Theatre Magazine 15 (May, 1984): 6-13. Contains photographs of Akalaitis and productions of Dressed Like an Egg, Dead End Kids, and Southern Exposure. The interview deals with Akalaitis’s work on the filming of Dead End Kids, and she discusses her collaboration with Ruth Maleczech, Women’s Interart, and Mabou Mines. Akalaitis describes her work on an opera written with John Gibson, supported by National Endowment and Rockefeller grants.

Brustein, Robert. “Akalaitis Axed.” New Republic 208 (April 26, 1993): 29-31. Brustein writes a sympathetic interpretation of the events that led up to Akalaitis’ dismissal from her post as artistic director of the New York Shakespeare Festival. He includes a review of the last production there under her tenure, a musical version of the play Wings by Arthur Kopit.

Gussow, Mel. “Other Ways at the Shakespeare Festival.” The New York Times, June 17, 1991, p. B5. Gussow devotes a page with photographs to a relatively sympathetic description of Akalaitis’s career, as director, playwright, collaborative performance artist, and Joseph Papp’s successor as director of the New York Shakespeare Festival. He briefly reviews the critical reception of her writing and directorial career, mentioning the negative critical reception of Akalaitis’s direction...

(The entire section is 612 words.)