Guare, John

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Guare, John Gender: M
John Edward Guare, Jr.
born on 5 February 1938 at 14:51 (= 2:51 PM )
Place Manhattan, New York, 40n46, 73w59
Timezone EST h5w (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 16°23' s_mo.18.gif s_aricol.18.gif 18°43 Asc.s_cancol.18.gif 18°10'

John Guare
photo: David Shankbone, license cc-by-3.0


American writer, considered one of the nation’s best young playwrights in the 1960s and 1970s, attaining critical and popular success at a relatively early age with his award-winning plays, "Muzeeka," "The House of Blue Leaves," and a musical adaptation of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona." He wrote the screenplay of the film, "Atlantic City," 1981. With bizarre characters and conflicting ideas, his themes have centered on family relationships and the individual’s desire for success. A perfectionist, he frequently changes his work throughout rehearsals and sometimes right up to opening night.

John Guare was the only child of a Wall Street stock exchange clerk and his mother. His Irish-Catholic parents lived a remote life, setting an example for their son. Happy to be left alone, the young boy did a lot of reading, and by the time he was in elementary school, he would go to the theater weekly as well as listen to original cast albums of Broadway musicals. He began writing plays when he was about 10, producing his first work in a neighbor’s garage when he was 11. He enrolled at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and earned his B.A. degree in 1960, then went on to obtain an M.F.A. degree in 1963 from the Yale University School of Drama. One of his short plays, "Did You Write My Name in the Snow?" was produced by Yale’s drama department in 1962.

Guare joined the U.S. Air Force reserve as an airman shortly after he left graduate school, and following his discharge, went to England where he worked as a reader in a London publishing house. Throughout that time, he continued to write plays. It was in Europe that Guare first got the idea for "The House of Blue Leaves." As a child, he’d dreamed of seeing the Pope and he finally made it to Rome on the very day that the Pope had flown to New York to address the United Nations. Struck by the coincidence, he thought more and more about the Catholic impact on his family, and by the time he went to New York in July 1966, he had drafted the first act. He was invited to become a founding member of the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theater Playwrights’ Conference in Waterford, Connecticut. Two New York producers were so impressed with the first act that they wanted to produce it immediately, but Guare couldn’t write an acceptable second act at the time. So he returned to Yale Drama School on a fellowship, and wrote several one-act plays, including "Loveliest Afternoon of the Year," and "Something I’ll Tell You Tuesday" which were produced in New York in October 1966.

Guare wrote "Muzeeka" for the second season of the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theater Conference, a biting social satire that was unveiled in the summer of 1967. On 4/28/1968, it opened at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York City, running for 65 performances and earning Guare an Obie award from the "Village Voice" for distinguished playwriting.

While protesting in a demonstration against the Vietnam war in 1968, he was kicked in the head by a rearing police horse. Before losing consciousness, he saw the terrified look on the young officer’s face and that sparked his next play, "Cop-Out," about a rookie policeman who falls in love with an antiwar protester. It opened on 4/07/1969 but closed after four performances. The failure left Guare depressed, even though it did help win him a "most promising playwright" award that year. Nonetheless, he fled to Europe.

Returning to New York five months later, he brought with him the completed draft of "The House of Blue Leaves," which became his first full-length play. The play opened on 2/10/1971 off-Broadway in New York, and earned Guare his second Obie. It was named the best American play of the 1970-1971 season by the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. It closed 12/03/1971 with 337 performances, after a fire damaged the theater.

Guare collaborated with composer Galt MacDermot and Mel Shapiro on a rock musical adaptation of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" for the New York Shakespeare Festival. The play opened 7/22/1971 at the Delacorte Theater in New York’s Central Park and proved to be so popular that the festival took it to Broadway the following winter. The production earned the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best musical.

The two back-to-back successes established Guare as one of the country’s hottest young playwrights, and he continued to write. "Marco Polo Sings a Solo" opened in New York on 1/12/1977. His next effort, "Rich and Famous" opened in New York on 2/19/1976. "Bosoms and Neglect" opened on Broadway on 5/03/1979, but was not critically acclaimed and closed after four performances.

In 1981, he wrote the screenplay for "Atlantic City," which premiered in the United States in April 1981, and received five major Academy Award nominations, including one for best original screenplay. The screenplay was also voted best of the year by the National Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Society, and the New York Film Critics Circle. "Atlantic City" had been produced and directed by Louis Malle, and he and Guare so enjoyed working together that Malle returned to the theater after a long absence to direct Guare’s "Lydie Breeze." It opened to mixed reviews on 2/25/1982.

He has also received the Joseph Jefferson award for playwriting in 1977, and in 1981, an Award of Merit from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. One of his more recent works is the screenplay, "Six Degrees of Separation," 1990.

On 5/20/1981, he married Adele Chatfield-Taylor, the director of the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation. Tall, affable, an inveterate reader, he has silver gray hair and a long, rather solemn face. He speaks softly and when excited by a thought, talks nonstop with animation.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Relationship : Marriage 20 May 1961 (Adele Chatfield-Taylor,)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 10 February 1971 (First full-length play produced)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

B.C. in hand, LMR


  • Traits : Body : Size (Tall, over 6')
  • Traits : Personality : Perfectionist
  • Vocation : Politics : Activist/ political (Demonstrated against Vietnam, 1968)
  • Vocation : Writers : Playwright/ script
  • Notable : Awards : Vocational award (Many)
  • Notable : Book Collection : Culture Collection