Theatre Great Richards Dies On His 87th Birthday

The lights on Broadway, New York City, were dimmed on Friday night (30JUN06) in a tribute to Tony Award-winning director LLOYD RICHARDS, who died on his 87th birthday on Thursday (29JUN06). Canadian-born Richards was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and embarked on a career in the theatre after serving in World War Two and turning his back on his law studies. As an actor in the 1950s, Richards appeared in notable Broadway plays A PHOENIX TOO FREQUENT and THE EGGHEAD, but he really made his mark as a director in 1959 when he took charge of controversial race play A RAISIN IN THE SUN. The play marked the first time an African-American had directed an African-American actress on Broadway. Richards went on to win acclaim for directing the play THE LONG DREAM and musicals THE YEARLING and I HAD A BALL. Academically, Richards shone too - he became a professor of theatre and cinema at Hunter College and also headed up the actor training programme at New York University's School of the Arts. He also became the artistic director of Yale Repertory Theatre and also served as the dean of the Yale School of Drama throughout the 1980s. He also directed the first six plays in revered playwright AUGUST WILSON's 10-play series. Richards won a Tony Award for FENCES, and also received four more nominations.


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