Meet the Playwright: David Lindsay-Abaire

DLA Headshot

David Lindsay-Abaire

The Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-honored David Lindsay-Abaire includes not only the highly acclaimed “Rabbit Hole” on his resume but also “Good People,” which was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, The Horton Foote Prize, The Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and two Tony nominations. He is also the playwright of “Fuddy Meers,” “Kimberly Akimbo,” “Wonder of the World,” and “A Devil Inside.”

Watch scenes featuring Tate Donovan, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Frances McDormand and Becky Ann Baker, Patrick Carroll, Frances McDormand and Estelle Parsons from Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway production of “Good People.”

And he’s also a successful screenwriter, with some films to his credit that you might not anticipate, including such varied titles as “Oz the Great and Powerful,” “Rise of the Guardians,” and “Robots” — along with the upcoming reboot of “Poltergeist.” (Watch the trailer for the 20th Century Fox release of “Poltergeist.”)

With his family at the premiere of "Shrek the Musical" DVD release.

With his family at the premiere of “Shrek the Musical” DVD release.

Lindsay-Abaire’s writings have also been seen on Broadway — surprisingly enough in musical theater. He is the lyricist and librettist of “Shrek the Musical” and the book writer to the musical “High Fidelity.” His recognition for “Shrek the Musical” include nominations for eight Tonys, four Oliviers, and a Grammy, and earned Mr. Lindsay-Abaire the Ed Kleban Award as America’s most promising musical theatre lyricist.

The writer concentrated on writing for theater at Sarah Lawrence College and was later accepted into the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard School, where he wrote under the tutelage of playwrights Marsha Norman (“’night Mother,” “The Bridges of Madison County”) and Christopher Durang (“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” “Beyond Therapy,” “The Actor’s Nightmare”).

He began studing acting, but took some playwriting courses to fill in his schedule. After this initial training, his first effort was staged at the school, and the warm reception of this play, “A Show of Hands,” helped decide his career direction. “The audience really seemed to like it,” he said. “It dawned on me that playwriting seemed so much easier than acting.”

About his craft, he told one interviewer: “I’m just writing about people. People are dark and complicated. I’m trying to tell the truth; that’s all that I do.”

On “Rabbit Hole,” he said: “I’m going to do whatever interests me. Look, writing ‘Rabbit Hole’ came out of an interest in diversifying my portfolio, frankly.”

Winning the Pulitzer Prize for “Rabbit Hole” he believes “has nothing to do with me; it’s more about people’s perceptions of me, whatever they may be. I’m not being humble — I honestly do not and cannot think about that. It’s a lovely piece of crystal on my bookcase, but that’s all it is to me.”

—Written by Blair Howell

The 20th Century Fox release opens May 22.

The 20th Century Fox release of the reboot of “Poltergeist” opens nationwide May 22.

Good People Scene

The Broadway production of “Good People.”