Unforgettable Stories from an Off-Off Broadway Pioneer
We were captivated by this story in LA STAGE Times about Robert Patrick, the playwright and off-Off Broadway pioneer. His frank stories about the off-Off scene—and what happened to him when he left it—are rich, moving, and occasionally heartbreaking.
Take a look at this excerpt, and then read the full story at LA STAGE Times.
Robert Patrick’s Off-Off Life, From Roswell to LA
By Julio Martinez
Robert Patrick apologizes for his casual attire as he settles into a patio chair in the outdoor seating area of House of Pies in the Los Feliz district. “I just finished my daily 60-block morning walk, and I didn’t have time to go home and change.” At age 74, Patrick exudes a buoyant sociability and is only too happy to discuss his creatively overflowing life and times, including his status as one of the founders of the 1960s New York theater movement at Caffe Cino in Greenwich Village that became known as off-off-Broadway and his position as a pioneer of gay theater in America.
In 1972, Samuel French declared Patrick “New York’s most-produced playwright” of that era. In fact, he is the author of more than 300 produced works and 60 published plays, including Kennedy’s Children (1975), which garnered a featured actress Tony for Shirley Knight. On Tuesday, March 27, he is to be honored by the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, who have made him ALAP’s first honorary member.
“I haven’t written a play in a long time, not since I left New York and the world of theater in 1990,” he confides. “But Dan Berkowitz and John Dorf who run ALAP thought the world should know more about me, so they’re having this Evening With Robert Patrick next Tuesday.”
Born Robert Patrick O’Connor in Kilgore, Texas in 1937, Patrick’s migrant worker family moved so frequently he never enjoyed a full year of schooling in any location until his final year of high school in Roswell, New Mexico. He certainly had no aspirations to have a life in the theater. He attended Eastern New Mexico University for a time but dropped out. He recalls, “I had two ambitions at the time. I wanted to be a cartoonist or a nightclub singer. I had no talent for either.”
He joined the Air Force but was kicked out when it was discovered he had sent a love poem to another airman. Feeling there was something decidedly wrong with him, he had himself committed to a New Mexico state mental institution. After an obligatory two weeks, he was released. “They told me there was nothing wrong with me, and I should just move to a bigger city.”
Read the full story here.