The innovative theatre director spent most of his time subverting industry constructs.
Theatre director Lee Breuer, who spent most of his time creating new works that subverted industry expectations, died January 3. He was 83. His death was confirmed to The New York Times by his wife and frequent collaborator, Maude Mitchell.
Mr. Breuer was a co-founder of Mabou Mines, an Off-Broadway company that created new adaptations of popular works. Among the more recent productions were Peter and Wendy at the New Victory Theatre in 1997, Mabou Mines DollHouse at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2003, Red Beads at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in 2005, and La Divina Caricatura, Part 1, The Shaggy Dog at La MaMa Experimental Theater in 2013.
While preferring to spend his time in the world of experimental theatre, Mr. Breuer also found success in larger venues like the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and the Comédie-Française in Paris.
His mainstream breakthrough came in the 1980’s with The Gospel at Colonus. Set in the context of a black Pentecostal service, the adaptation of Sophocles’ Oedipus celebrates the 2,400-year-old myth of Oedipus’ redemption with a gospel and blues score. Mr. Breuer wrote the book and lyrics with Bob Telson providing the music.
The musical debuted at the BAM Harvey Theater as part of the inaugural Next Wave Festival in 1983. Mr. Breuer and Telson were co-finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1985, and the show debuted on Broadway in 1988 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The production earned a Tony nomination for Mr. Breuer’s book.