Lanford Wilson, celebrated playwright of ‘Burn This,’ has died at 73

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Lanford Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist whose best known works include ‘Talley’s Folly,’ ‘Fifth of July’ and ‘Burn This,’ has died at 73, the Steppenwolf Theatre said Thursday.

Wilson rose to fame for his plays that explored such themes as contemporary gay identity, youthful angst and modern anomie. Throughout his lengthy career, he worked closely with the Circle Repertory Theatre in New York, of which he was a founding member. A number of Wilson’s plays reached Broadway, and he received three Tony nominations for best play. But today he is most closely associated with the off-off-Broadway scene, where his plays are regularly revived.


Wilson won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1980 for ‘Talley’s Folly,’ the second play in his cycle ‘The Talley Trilogy’ which also includes ‘Talley & Son’ and ‘Fifth of July.’ The trilogy of plays follows the Talley family of Lebanon, Mo., in the first half of the 20th century.

Wilson’s perhaps best-known and most-revived, play remains ‘Burn This,’ the 1986 ensemble drama about a group of young friends who grapple with their collective grief following the death of an associate. A revival production of ‘Burn This,’ directed by Nicholas Martin, is set to open at the Mark Taper Forum on April 3.

Here is the full obituary.

-- David Ng

Associated Press