Mark Howard Medoff was born to educated parents (his father a physician and his mother a psychologist) and was educated at the University of Miami and at Stanford University. Intending to undertake a writing career, he gradually moved toward teaching and found unexpected rewards. While pursuing his professional playwriting career, he advanced in academia, chairing the Department of Drama at New Mexico State University, a position that would allow him to mount college productions of his work before attempting professional productions in the regional or New York market.
Medoff is an adoptive Westerner, which brings his work about the West both advantages and disadvantages. He moved to New Mexico in 1966 after life spent in far more metropolitan areas. Rather than seeing this position as a grim exile to be hurriedly escaped from by obtaining a permanent position at a more conveniently located college, Medoff took New Mexico as an opportunity. He saw that here he had a taproot into the American spirit at its most stark and elemental. Medoff would have been a brilliant playwright in any event, but his living in New Mexico gave him his subject.
Medoff’s relationship with Phyllis Frelich and her husband, Robert Steinberg, began in 1977, when Medoff promised Frelich, an accomplished deaf actress, to write a play for her. The resulting three-year collaboration moved to Broadway after Steinberg and Frelich helped Medoff refine the play’s ideas into...
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