Jeff Wanshel

Composer Playwright Lyricist

Jeff Wanshel has had plays produced at A.C.T. San Francisco, The American Place (2), The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The National Theater of the Deaf (2), The Magic Theatre of San Francisco (2), The Manhattan Theatre Club (2), Music Theatre Group/Lenox Arts Center (2), The National Playwrights Conference (5), The Yale Repertory Theater, on BBC Radio and NPR, etc. “The Disintegration of James Cherry” opened at Lincoln Center when he was a fresh-faced twenty-two. An early version of “Isadora Duncan Sleeps With the Russian Navy” featured Meryl Streep. “Ophelia” toured the U.S. and abroad for over a year. Wanshel has worked with directors such as Des McAnuff and John Madden and been championed by (and later collaborated with) critics who should have known better, among them the late Martin Esslin, Michael Feingold, and the late Richard Gilman. Wanshel has seven plays in print in acting editions. Three actors have won “Obies” in his plays, including the late Marian Seldes. “Metamorphosis in Miniature”, a Kafka adaptation for Martha Clarke, won Wanshel an “Obie” for “Best New American Play” and was on the cover of the precursor to “American Theater”. Other honors include two NEA grants, two from The New York State Council on the Arts, three Rockefeller Awards in Playwriting, and twenty Artist Residencies at places such as Yaddo, The Macdowell Colony, and the Wm. F. Flanagan (Albee) Foundation. He has developed scripts at The New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater, The La Jolla Playhouse, The Sundance Playwrights Laboratory, etc. Commissions include The Actors Theatre of Louisville and The New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater (under Joe Papp). Wanshel’s teleplay adaptation of Thurber’s “The Greatest Man in the World” (PBS) was nominated for a Writers Guild Award. The series that featured it won a Peabody. The complete teleplay, used to teach page-to-screen adaptation, is published by Dell in “The American Short Story Vol. 2” (twenty printings). He’s a Lifetime Member of the WGA and Dramatists Guild. You may read on IMDB that his award-winning screenplay “Diamond Cut Diamond” is in pre-production, but “it ain’t necessarily so”. Wanshel has taught at Manhattanville College, SUNY Purchase (where the late Edward Albee and later nobel-prize winner Derek Walcott joined him for class), and (single-session) Columbia, Wesleyan (2), the National Theater Institute, and, at his request, with Mr. Albee at The Dramatists Guild.

Critical culls (mind you they’re not all like this): “Wonderful.” Village Voice. “Exquisite ... extraordinary.” Village Voice. “Greatness leaps out.” Village Voice. "Fresh, inventive wit ... gets the quick, long-echoing epistemological laugh of the born comic writer ... funny, vivid and subtle." Newsweek. “The real honest-to-God article ... uniquely funny and sad.” Hollywood Reporter. “The best thing I’ve seen on stage for a year or longer ... remarkably affecting.” The Nation.  “A tiny gem of perfect beauty.” NY Post. “Imaginative ... innovative ... enthralling ... unforgettable.” Hartford Courant.