Gary Garrison is a playwright and author, as well as
the Executive Director for Creative Affairs of the Dramatists Guild of America. The former Artistic Director and Division Head of Playwriting for the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing at the Tisch School of the Arts, he continues working with graduate playwrights each semester as an active faculty member. As a guest artist and lecturer, he has traveled throughout the country speaking to hundreds of playwrights in college and university programs, small and large theatres and playwrights organizations. Each summer he heads a national playwriting intensive hosted at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
In 2005, Gary was named Outstanding Teacher of Playwriting by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Below is the tribute that accompanied the award.
"Gary Garrison, friend and collaborator, inspiring wildman, unhinged Baptist preacher-like lecturer working the room to the vast amusement and delight and rapture of the audience. A tough act to follow but a leader one emphatically wants to follow practically from first meeting.
How many voices would chorus this statement: I wouldn't be involved in Association for Theatre in Higher Education if it wasn't for Gary. Many, many, I have no doubt. I can safely say it's true for me. Meeting Gary at the Kennedy Center, having him say, "Hey, you should come to ATHE, get involved with the playwrights program--we're really doing theatre, not just talking about it." How could one possibly refuse?
Over the years, then, many excellent encounters at ATHE conferences, including the moment when we were both sitting at the Heinemann booth to sign our new books and Gary picked up a copy of the latest monologues for women by women and said to me:
“We could do this." And two books later with a third soon to be under contract, we did, we have.
I don't know about you, but I couldn't wait to read Gary's brilliant commentaries in the Dramatists Guild newsletter and bought the resultant book, and I ran right out to buy Perfect Ten when it came out.
Is there an aspect of our field that Gary hasn't in some way helped to grow or become better, stronger, wiser, more honest? The guy's a one-man assault force on tired assumptions, lazy craftwork, and the tedium of business-as-usual. I don't think there's a theatre person in New York that Gary hasn't met and/or influenced, and certainly there are wave upon wave of young writers who have benefited from his mentoring and the programs he's engendered.
He's lifted our field many levels higher; it's that simple.
Top all that all off with the fact that he's a sexy guy who could easily use his charms for Rasputin-like endeavors and yet you know when you're held in place by the Garrison gaze that good stuff will follow.
I don't know why we waited this long to give Gary this award. It's a puny tribute to all the fine work he's done. I'm thankful for all he's brought into my life, professionally and personally, and I certainly hope everybody else in the program is. God knows we need to show it better than we sometimes have."
- Michael Wright: author, playwright and educator.