Richard Foreman was born in New York City on June 10, 1937, and was reared in Scarsdale, an affluent New York suburb in Westchester County. He became interested in theater as an adolescent, encouraged by an indulgent high school teacher who allowed him to express his already iconoclastic vision in inappropriately surreal set designs for school plays. During this time, Foreman studied the writings of Brecht, whose theories permeated Foreman’s thought and would later profoundly influence his theater work. At Brown University, from which he was graduated magna cum laude in 1959, Foreman became interested first in film and then in playwriting, and was introduced to the writings of José Ortega y Gasset, which also influenced his later, rigorous style. Foreman studied with John Gassner at Yale University, from which he received his M.F.A. in 1962.
Foreman married his high school friend Amy Taubin in 1962. They moved to New York City, where Taubin pursued an acting career and Foreman joined the playwriting unit of the Actors Studio, writing conventional plays in the style of Clifford Odets and Arthur Miller. From 1962 to 1967, Foreman and Taubin immersed themselves in the New American Cinema movement evolving in lower Manhattan and became captivated by the avant-garde work of filmmakers Ken Jacobs, Michael Snow, and Jack Smith. Foreman gradually began applying the avant-garde film aesthetic to his own playwriting, leaving gaps and rough spots where he had once sought closure and polish. He presented Angelface, his first Ontological-Hysteric Theatre production, in 1968, at the Cinematheque on Wooster Street in Manhattan’s SoHo district, and began collaborating with musician Stanley Silverman on experimental musical productions for the Music Theatre Group/Lenox Art Center.
Foreman dislodged his productions from his Wooster Street loft in 1976 and began working occasionally in Europe through the early 1980’s. He spent most of this period either in Paris or touring to different performance spaces in Europe, such as Teatro Nuovo in Turin, Italy, and the Mickery Theatre in Amsterdam, Holland. Some of Foreman’s later works were first performed in Europe: Livre de splendeurs was first shown in Paris, and Luogo + Bersaglio was first performed, in Italian, in Rome. During...
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