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If you like Lloyd Richards's story, you might also like:
Edward Albee,
Benjamin S. Carson,
Jeremy Irons,
James Earl Jones,
Quincy Jones,
Audra McDonald,
Trevor Nunn,
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and Twyla Tharp

Lloyd Richards also appears in the video:
Passion, Creativity and the Arts: A Mirror on Society

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Lloyd Richards in the Achievement Curriculum section:
From Dance to Drama

Related Links:
Tony Awards
Actors Center
HistoryMakers

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Lloyd Richards
 
Lloyd Richards
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Lloyd Richards Biography

Tony Award-Winning Director

Lloyd Richards Date of birth: June 29, 1919
Date of death: June 29, 2006

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  Lloyd Richards

Lloyd Richards Biography Photo
Lloyd Richards was born in Toronto, Canada in 1919. His family moved to Detroit, Michigan not long after he was born. Lloyd Richards was only nine years old when his father died, leaving his mother to raise five children alone in the depths of the Depression. Life became still more difficult for the Richards family when Mrs. Richards became blind. Lloyd, only 13, went to work to help support the struggling family.

The Richards family believed in the importance of education, and despite their difficult circumstances, all the children were encouraged to study hard and go to college. Richards entered Wayne University in Detroit but his studies were interrupted by World War II. He volunteered for the U.S Army Air Corps and was in training with the nation's first unit of black pilots -- the Tuskegee Airmen -- when the war ended in 1945.

On returning to Wayne University, Richards pursued his interest in drama, learning all aspects of theater and radio production. After graduation he started a theater group in Detroit with a handful of friends and classmates. At that time, the American theater was entirely centered in New York City; Richards moved there in 1947 to pursue an acting career. Roles for African American actors were hard to come by, but Richards worked on Broadway in Freight and The Egghead and on radio throughout the 1950s. He also taught acting and directed off-Broadway.

Lloyd Richards Biography Photo
In 1958, Richards galvanized Broadway with his production of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. This production, a realistic portrayal of a contemporary black working class family in Chicago, began a new era in the representation of African Americans on the American stage.

In the 1960s, Richards directed the Broadway productions The Long Dream, The Moon Besieged, I Had a Ball and The Yearling.

In 1966, Lloyd Richards became head of the actor training program at New York University's School of the Arts. He was Professor of Theater and Cinema at Hunter College in New York City before he was tapped to become dean of the prestigious Yale University School of Drama in 1979. At the same time he became Artistic Director of the highly influential Yale Repertory theater.

Throughout his career, Lloyd Richards sought to discover and develop new plays and playwrights, as a member of the Playwrights' selection committee of the Rockefeller Foundation and of the New American Plays program of the Ford Foundation, and as Artistic Director of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Memorial Theatre Center from 1968 to 1999.

Richards's long search for a major new American playwright bore fruit with the 1984 production of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by August Wilson. Throughout the 1980s and into the '90s, Richards directed the Yale Rep and New York productions of the successive installments of August Wilson's multi-part chronicle of African American life. The plays in this cycle include Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running and Seven Guitars.

Lloyd Richards Biography Photo
Lloyd Richards's productions for television included segments of Roots: The Next Generation, Bill Moyers' Journal and Robeson, a presentation on the life of the African American actor and activist Paul Robeson, who was an early inspiration for the young Lloyd Richards. Richards also dealt with Robeson's life and legacy in the 1977 theatrical production Paul Robeson.

Lloyd Richards was the recipient of the Pioneer Award of AUDELCO, the Frederick Douglass Award and, in 1993, was awarded the National Medal of the Arts. He also served as President of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.

In 1991, Lloyd Richards retired from his posts as Dean of the Yale University School of Drama and as Artistic Director of Yale Rep. He continued to serve as Artistic Director of the Playwrights Conference at the O'Neill Center until 1999. He died in 2006, on his 87th birthday.




This page last revised on Mar 26, 2009 02:37 EST
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