(Bruce Weber’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/31; via Pam Green.)
María Irene Fornés, a Cuban-born American playwright whose spare, poetic and emotionally forceful works were hallmarks of experimental theater for four decades, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 88.
Her death, at the Amsterdam Nursing Home, was confirmed by the playwright Migdalia Cruz, a friend and former student of Ms. Fornés’s. She had had Alzheimer’s disease for some time.
A favorite of many critics, theater scholars and fellow playwrights, who often declared that her achievements far outstripped her fame, Ms. Fornés came to playwriting relatively late — her first artistic pursuit was painting — and never earned the popular regard of contemporaries like Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, John Guare and Lanford Wilson.
Her plays earned eight Obie awards, the Off Broadway equivalent of the Tonys, and she was given an Obie for lifetime achievement in 1982. But her only work to appear on Broadway, a 1966 comedy called “The Office,” directed by Jerome Robbins, closed in previews.
Still, over a long career during which she wrote dozens of plays, many of which she directed herself, and fostered the high-minded idea of the sovereign playwright by producing experimental plays and teaching a generation of younger playwrights, Ms. Fornés gained a reputation within the theater world as an underrecognized genius.
Photo: The New York Times