Greenberg at a Glance

Jerry Patch
 | Oct 14, 2021
Richard Greenberg
Playwright Richard Greenberg

​Did You Know?

Playwright Richard Greenberg has received 13 SCR commissions, 13 SCR productions and 10 SCR world premieres?

Commissions and NewSCRipts are among the nine initiatives in South Coast Repertory’s comprehensive new play development program, The [email protected]Learn more about the program here.

Richard Greenberg is a bona-fide New Yorker. Born and raised just east of Manhattan on Long Island, he settled in the Chelsea district after graduating from Princeton and Yale Universities, with a year of grad work at Harvard in between. 

His roommate for his first years in the city was the actress Patricia Clarkson, a fellow New Yorker who’s still a close friend. He’s moved once in 40 years, from W. 23rd St. to W. 22nd, a block away. He hates leaving town, and hates traveling even more. 

His favorite writer is Dawn Powell, a slick, satirical stylist and contemporary and friend of Dorothy Parker, John Dos Passos, James Thurber, and her editor, Maxwell Perkins. Originally from Ohio, she chronicled New York life and its people, writing novels and plays from the 1930s to her death in 1965 at 69. 

She was known as a “writer’s writer,” a tag that is often put on Greenberg. There has been no more “literate” playwright in America over the last 40 years than he, having been compared to writers from Noel Coward to Henry James. His Tony winner, Take Me Out, is being revived on Broadway this fall, and has been optioned for a television series. 

He has written well over 30 plays, most of which were set in or around New York City and produced on and off-Broadway. He has won every playwriting prize in New York, most of them more than once. 

All of which makes his 33-year association with South Coast Repertory something of an anomaly. A Shot Rang Out is the 13th play by Greenberg to be produced here, 10 of which were world premieres. 

Most of these productions required Greenberg to be on site for development and rehearsals of his texts—which meant enduring travel he loathes. But surprise! The native New Yorker enjoyed Orange County, long enough over the years to find local favorites still abiding here and rue the losses of those now gone.

Greenberg loves our temperate climate; loved staying near SCR in the Marriott Suites. He mourned the loss of the flagship El Torito Grill on Anton Blvd., and breakfasts at Jerry’s Deli around the corner. The typewriter on which he wrote until he could no longer justify not using a computer sits in place of honor: a bookshelf in the office of his pal, Joanne DeNaut, SCR’s casting director for decades. 

In 2020, the onset of the pandemic and the unresolved restrictions placed on assembling creatives and audiences prompted Artistic Director David Ivers to ask Greenberg for a solo play—one that could be performed by a single actor and streamed if audiences could not gather in person. A Shot Rang Out is the result. It was Greenberg’s idea that Ivers be cast in the role, a part he wrote with Ivers in mind. 

As usual, Greenberg has been a periodic presence during the development and rehearsal of his text—but this time over Zoom. A true man of the theatre, Richard’s play is both a celebration of returning to the art form, and the tale of one man’s odyssey—one taken by many of us—before, during and after a period of great stress. And a welcome back. 

Learn more about A Shot Rang Out and buy tickets.