Edward Parone, Who Directed Edgy Theater in ’60s NYC, L.A.’s Taper, Dies at 90

Director and writer Edward Parone, who was a mentor to many of the promising young playwrights in 1960s New York, including Edward Albee and LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), died at his home in Nambe, New Mexico, on Sunday, January 24 after a short battle with cancer. He was 90.

In what was one of the most fertile periods in American theater, with the emergence of edgy, boundary-pushing playwrights, Parone was an artistic member of New York’s Albee-Barr-Wilder Playwrights Unit, a company devoted exclusively to the development and production of new American plays and an early pioneer of the type of new play development that has since been replicated by nonprofit theaters across the country. During this period, Parone directed the world premiere of LeRoi Jones’ signature play “The Dutchman,” and would go on to nurture playwrights such as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson and John Guare.

In 1967 Parone joined Gordon Davidson, artistic director of the newly opened Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, to inaugurate the Taper’s first new play development program, New Theatre for Now. In operation through 1986, NTFN provided a forum for exploration of plays and new forms in a variety of formats.

Parone directed numerous plays at the Taper ranging from the world premiere of Guare’s “Muzeeka” to Tom Stoppard’s “Travesties,” the American premiere of Pam Gems’ “Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi” and a re-creation of his early days in New York with “50/60 Vision – Plays and Playwrights That Changed the Theatre” – featuring works of Shepard, Albee, Baraka, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Eugene Ionesco and Harold Pinter, among others.

Parone also directed episodes of numerous TV series in the 1970s and ’80s, including “Family” and “Knots Landing,” and in 1961 was an assistant to the producer on Clark Gable’s and Marilyn Monroe’s last film, “The Misfits.”

His poetry was published in the New Yorker, and he wrote and edited two books, “Collision Course” (1968) and “New Theatre in America” (1965).

He was born in Hartford, Connecticut, served honorably in the Navy during World War II, and graduated summa cum laude from Trinity College, Hartford.

Donations may be made to the Black Mesa Kennels, 32 Private Drive 1156, Espanola, NM 87532.

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