Playwright Christopher Durang, a Tony winner for ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,’ passes away aged 75

He is survived by his husband, John Augustine
In frame: Christopher Durang
In frame: Christopher Durang@LCTheater- X

Playwright Christopher Durang, a master of satire and black comedy who won a Tony Award for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist with Miss Witherspoon, has passed away. He was 75.

Durang passed on Tuesday at his home in Pipersville, Pennsylvania, of complications from logopenic primary progressive aphasia, said his agent, Patrick Herold. In 2022, it was revealed Durang had been diagnosed in 2016 with the disorder, a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Durang was not only a giant in our field, but a guiding light whose daring works illuminated the stage with brilliance and wit. His legacy as a playwright, lyricist, and educator is immeasurable, touching the lives of countless artists and audiences alike,” the Dramatists Guild said in a statement.

In frame: Christopher Durang
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Durang's plays were infused with a smart, high-octane sense of absurdism. His works include Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, Baby with the Bathwater, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Betty’s Summer Vacation and Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge.

Playwrights took to social media Wednesday to mourn a colleague and mentor. Paul Rudnick called him “a spectacular playwright with a great comic voice" who ”mastered a giddy despair." Stephen Adly Guirgis on X recalled being taken to see “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You” in eighth grade: “It blew my mind, broke my heart & made me laugh HARD. All the reasons we go to the theater.”

In frame: Christopher Durang
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Durang’ had arguably his brightest career moment with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, a sweet and witty play inspired by Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters with a huge pop culture appetite that made it to Broadway starring David Hyde Pierce, Sigourney Weaver and Kristine Nielsen.

He was nominated for a Tony for best book of a musical in 1978 for A History of the American Film — about Hollywood’s Golden Age — and named a Pulitzer finalist in 2006 for Miss Witherspoon — about a woman who wishes to die but is continually reincarnated on Earth.

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