John Guare Biography

Biography

(Masterpieces of American Literature)
ph_0111226238-Guare.jpg John Guare Published by Salem Press, Inc.

John Guare was born in Manhattan on February 5, 1938, to John Edward and Helen Clare (Grady) Guare. Shortly after his birth, his parents moved to Forest Hills, Queens, where he attended St. Joan of Arc Parochial School and, when old enough, was taken to mass every day by his mother.

Guare’s father worked on Wall Street and had in earlier years been employed as office boy for George M. Cohan. Guare speaks of his very bright and unhappy parents, of listening to constant arguments between them and of hearing stories about his Hollywood uncle, Billy Grady. He heard stories about his uncle’s having secretly signed Elizabeth Taylor to star in National Velvet (1944) and about Grady’s managing the careers of Ruby Keeler, W. C. Fields, and Will Rogers. Exposed early to religion and Hollywood, he learned from direct experience about “Catholicism and show biz,” which he referred to as “full of dreams and phoney promises.”

Guare graduated from Georgetown University in 1961 and went on to receive his M.A. in English at Yale University in 1963. He was a fellow at Yale’s Saybrook College from 1977 to 1978 and adjunct professor from 1977 to 1981. He lectured, as well, at New York University and City College of New York.

His serious interest in the theater emerged following a series of experiences that included service with the Air Force Reserve, a job with a London publisher, and extensive hitchhiking through Europe that concluded in Cairo, Egypt. While in the service, he stopped going to Mass. In Rome, he read newspaper accounts of the pope’s impending visit to New York in 1965, and in Cairo, he received a letter from his parents about the pope’s ride through Queens on his way to speak at the United...

(The entire section is 716 words.)

John Guare Biography

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Guare was influenced by Chekhov and Henrik Ibsen in his younger years, and he acknowledges the existence, from Aeschylus on down, of what has been labeled in the twentieth century as the Theater of the Absurd. He goes on to say that “the absurd is that which generates music.” In the ditties composed and sung by Artie Shaughnessy, in Ouisa Kittredge’s poetic reachings for a reality beyond that she has known, and in the McKenzie family’s realization of a mythic reality, Guare has caught the music of life in the suburbs of contemporary America, in its lofty aspirations and its phoniness—all exposed at some point to the harsh glare of the sun.

John Guare Biography

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

John Guare was born and reared in New York City’s borough of Queens, the only child of John Edward Guare, a clerk in the Wall Street stock exchange, and Helen (Grady) Guare. The young Guare very early showed his predilection for theater. In 1949, at the age of eleven, Guare wrote a play that was performed at Atlantic Beach, Long Island; the following year, he auditioned for his uncle, the film producer Billy Grady, an incident that he dramatized in The House of Blue Leaves. Educated in New York City’s Catholic schools (St. Joan of Arc elementary school in Queens and St. John’s Preparatory School in Brooklyn), Guare matriculated at Georgetown University, receiving his A.B. in 1960. While at Georgetown, Guare wrote two plays that were produced there: Theatre Girl in his junior year and The Toadstool Boy a year later.

To avoid the draft, Guare attended the Yale School of Drama, where The Golden Cherub and Did You Write My Name in the Snow? were produced in 1962; he received his M.F.A. in 1963. Guare further forestalled being drafted by serving in the Air Force Reserves. His first Off-Broadway play, To Wally Pantoni, We Leave a Credenza, appeared without much notice in 1964. Travel in Rome in 1965 gave Guare the inspiration for The House of Blue Leaves, which appeared in a one-act version at the Eugene O’Neill Foundation Theater in Waterford, Connecticut, in 1966, with Guare playing Artie...

(The entire section is 423 words.)

John Guare Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

John Guare (gwar) excels at writing plays that combine Strindbergian domestic dramas, savage farce, autobiography, and a sense of the ridiculous. He was born in Queens, a borough of New York City, to parents he would later describe as “very bright, very unhappy people,” who frequently left him alone. He turned to writing plays at the age of eleven as a way to lessen his sense of isolation. He maintained this interest by going to the theater weekly and listening to recordings of musicals, his favorite form. He was educated in Catholic schools, receiving a B.A. from Georgetown University in 1961. He then went to Yale University, from which he graduated in 1963 with an M.F.A. Yet he was dissatisfied with the emphasis placed on writing traditional plays with a logical structure. While Guare was in the Air Force reserve, he rejected Catholicism. He spent the next years as a reader for a London publishing house; in the spring of 1965, he hitchhiked through Europe. During all this time, Guare was working on one-act plays, the mode with which he felt most comfortable.

Guare’s one-act plays foreshadow both the thematic concerns and the stylistic approach of his later work. The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year is an absurd but touching play about two lonely people who choose to be murdered by the man’s wife rather than be separated. Guare wrote Muzeeka when he was involved in the Vietnam War protest movement. The protagonist, Jack Argue, stabs himself in order to avoid coming home to a job in a cesspool company after serving in the war. The play is an attack not so much on the war as on the superficiality of the American media, which celebrate brutality and violence. The play received an Obie Award, given to Off-Broadway productions.

In Guare’s next play, Cop-Out, which earned him an Obie for “Most Promising Playwright,” he alternates between presenting a love story between two protesters and illustrating episodes from the life of a policeman. With this juxtaposition of two styles and stories, Guare suggests that police brutality is a result of the media-created image. All of Guare’s one-act plays have a “macabre cartoonlike quality,” which also marks his full-length works.

The House of Blue Leaves, which won for Guare the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for the best American play, is one of Guare’s best-known plays. It had a successful New York revival in 1986. The principal characters have great depth and humanity, and the plot is more coherent than in many of his other works. Guare attacks Catholicism and “show biz” for promoting “dreams and phony promises.” The action takes place on the day the pope visits New York. Artie Shaughnessy, a middle-aged zookeeper, wants to commit Bananas, his insane wife, so that he can go to Hollywood with his mistress and become a songwriter. Each of the characters is so entrapped in his or her own desires for success that...

(The entire section is 1206 words.)

John Guare Biography

(Drama for Students)
John Guare Published by Gale Cengage

John Guare was born on February 5, 1938, in New York. At age eleven, along with another boy, he produced his first play in a garage for an...

(The entire section is 428 words.)

John Guare Biography

(Drama for Students)

John Guare was born in New York City, on February 5, 1938. He was the only child of Edward and Helen Claire Guare. Raised in a strict...

(The entire section is 506 words.)