Carmines, Al 1936–2005

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Carmines, Al 1936–2005

(Alvin Allison Carmines, Jr.)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born July 25, 1936, in Hampton, VA; died August 9, 2005, in New York, NY. Minister, composer, actor, singer, and author. A revolutionary creator of off-off-Broadway productions, the award-winning Carmines cofounded the Judson Poets' Theater in association with the Judson Memorial Church in New York City, where he was pastor. His boyhood love of music, singing, and dancing was combined with his Protestant faith. Although his talents earned him scholarship offers to several colleges, he decided to enter the ministry instead. After studying philosophy and English at Swarthmore College, where he earned a B.A. in 1958, he completed a B.D. at Union Theological Seminary in 1961. Two years later, he graduated with an S.T.M. from the seminary. Ordained a Baptist minister in 1960, he was hired in 1961 to be Howard Moody's assistant minister at Judson Memorial. It was Moody who asked Carmines, along with playwright and architect Robert Nichols, to start a theater in association with the church. Despite the affiliation, the two were allowed to write and produce plays without religious themes and messages. The Judson Poets' Theater became an influential fringe venue, creating daring, unconventional plays that shunned realism, experimented with musical form, and embraced what was then called "polymorphous perversity." Over the years, Carmines wrote about eighty musicals, ten of which were also performed off-Broadway. Carmines eventually became pastor at Judson, but had to leave his post in 1981 after suffering a brain aneurysm. He slowly recovered and then founded the Rauschenbusch Memorial Church in 1982. Among Carmines's plays are his Village Voice Off-Broadway ("Obie") Award-winning What Happened (1963), Home Movies (1964), and In Circles (1967); he also won an Obie award in 1979 for sustained achievement. Carmines, whose love of the works of Gertrude Stein resulted in five plays featuring Stein as a character, also wrote the controversial play The Faggot (1973), which earned him a Vernon Rice award for outstanding composer from Drama Desk.



New York Times, August 13, 2005, p. A25.