Michael Cristofer 1946–
(Pseudonym of Michael Procaccino) American dramatist and actor.
A highly regarded actor, Cristofer earned respect as a skillful and stimulating dramatist for his candid treatment of terminal illness in his first major work, The Shadow Box (1975). He has been praised for his use of techniques which are purely dramatic, rather than literary or novelistic. One way in which Cristofer effectively exploits the set's potential as a theatrical device in The Shadow Box is by placing onstage three cottages, which physically separate the dying characters and serve to individualize their common plight. Other important aspects of Cristofer's play are the overall complexity of language and the innovative use of cross-cut and chorally arranged dialogue. The Shadow Box won both the Pulitzer Prize in drama and a Tony Award in 1977.
After The Shadow Box Cristofer continued to explore provocative themes, but with less successful results. Ice (1976), an expressionistic play about basic human instincts, was criticized as both pointlessly obscene and symbolically trite, while Black Angel (1978), which concerns Nazism, vigilantism, and the degree to which evil actions are forgivable, received little critical attention.
(See also Contemporary Authors, Vol. 110 and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 7.)