Fuchs, Elinor 1933–
Fuchs, Elinor 1933–
PERSONAL: Born January 23, 1933, in Cleveland, OH; daughter of Joseph (a violinist) and Lillian (a president of an export company) Fuchs; married Michael O. Finkelstein (an attorney), May 3, 1962; children: Claire Oakes, Katherine Eban. Education: Radcliffe College, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1955; Hunter College of the City University of New York, M.A., 1975; City University of New York, M.Phil., 1976, Ph.D., 1995.
CAREER: Worked as producer and writer in New York, NY, research director for documentary series on President Franklin D. Roosevelt for ABC-TV, script editor of Dupont Show of the Month, and professional actress; Brooklyn Heights Press, Brooklyn Heights, NY, theatre critic, 1974–77; Chelsea Theatre Center, New York, NY, literary manager, 1978–79, literary adviser, 1979–80; CBC-Radio, theatre critic, beginning 1980; Women's Interart Center, literary manager, 1985; Yale University, New Haven, CT, professor of dramaturgy and drama criticism, 1998–; has also taught at Harvard University, Columbia University, and Emory University. Speaker and lecturer on Alzheimer's-related issues.
MEMBER: American Society for Theatre Research, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, PEN International, Ibsen Society of America, Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Distinguished achievement award, Los Angeles Drama-Logue, 1980, for outstanding achievement in theater/playwriting; Choice Outstanding Academic Book citation, 1996, for The Death of Character: Perspectives on Theater after Modernism; George Jean Nathan Award in Higher Education, 1997; Excellence in editing Award, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, 2003, for Land/Scape/Theater; Bunting fellowship; two Rockefeller fellowships.
A. Philip Randolph: Long March to Freedom (documentary), first broadcast on television, 1968.
(With Joyce Antler) Year One of the Empire: A Play of American Politics, War, and Protest (first produced in Los Angeles, CA, 1980), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1973.
A Dream Play (adaptation of work by August Strindberg), first produced in New York, NY, 1981.
(Editor) Plays of the Holocaust: An International Anthology, Theatre Communications Group, 1987.
The Death of Character: Perspectives on Theater after Modernism, Indiana University Press, 1996.
Making an Exit: A Mother-Daughter Drama with Alzheimer's, Machine Tools, and Laughter, Metropolitan Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to anthologies; contributor to theatre journals and other periodicals, including American Theatre, New York Times, and Vogue. Editor of American issue of Alternatives Theatrales; theatre critic for Soho News, 1978–82; contributor to the Village Voice, 1982–98; contributing editor, Theater magazine.
SIDELIGHTS: Elinor Fuchs is a playwright, drama professor, and critic who, according to Philip Auslander in Modern Drama, "deserves to be acknowledged as a pioneer in the application of contemporary theoretical perspectives to the theatre." Auslander continued: "In the early 1980s, she was one of a very few scholars actively engaged in exploring what poststructuralism and cultural theory—especially deconstruction and postmodernism might mean for theatre practice and criticism." Because of this reputation, the publication of her The Death of Character: Perspectives on Theater after Modernism was much anticipated. A combination of scholarly essays and play reviews, the book identifies trends in recent theatrical works and places them within the context of literary history. "Whether or not you enjoy the kind of theatre [Fuchs writes] … about, and whether or not you can decode every sentence or negotiate every turn in the drift of [her] … hermeneutic zeal, [this] demanding work is consistently invigorating," according to Foster Hirsch in an American Theatre review.
More recently, Fuchs also completed a very personal account about her life and relationship with her mother, who passed away from Alzheimer's. Making an Exit: A Mother-Daughter Drama with Alzheimer's, Machine Tools, and Laughter "celebrates the richness and folly of life and language in this loving and often funny tribute to her nonconformist mother," reported a Publishers Weekly contributor. Her mother, Lillian Kessler, was an independent woman far ahead of her time. She attended Radcliffe, only to quit, get married, get divorced, and run her own business. A shameless narcissist, she liked quality clothing and was not above flirting with men. Fuchs paints her mother as an interesting character who was, nonetheless, a difficult mother for a young child. Later, Fuchs had to take care of her mother after she suffered a heart attack and then succumbed to Alzheimer's disease. Their relationship provides much material for Fuchs to comment on family dynamics and, too, the problems of the current health care system. "This literate book with its classical underpinnings is an easy, delightful read," commented Cleo Pappas in Library Journal.
Fuchs once told CA: "My interest in eastern religion gives color to much of my work in theatre (and in life). The essential task of life is the interweaving of two perceptions: one, the fundamental energy of existence is love; two, the fundamental nature of physical existence is impermanence. Developing the courage or wisdom to keep both alive, without extinguishing one for the other, is a life's work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Fuchs, Elinor, Making an Exit: A Mother-Daughter Drama with Alzheimer's, Machine Tools, and Laughter, Metropolitan Books (New York, NY), 2005.
American Theatre, January, 1997, Foster Hirsch, review of The Death of Character: Perspectives on Theater after Modernism, p. 70.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2005, review of Making an Exit, p. 99; April 15, 2005, "Best Books for Reading Groups: Featuring Twenty-five Titles Ideal for Discussion & Debate," review of Making an Exit, p. S1.
Library Journal, January 1, 2005, Cleo Pappas, review of Making an Exit, p. 139.
Modern Drama, spring, 1997, Philip Auslander, review of The Death of Character, p. 166.
NWSA Journal, spring, 2006, Annie Dollins, review of Making an Exit, p. 219.
Publishers Weekly, January 10, 2005, review of Making an Exit, p. 46.