Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally CC ’60, one of the American theater’s most acclaimed writers, will deliver the keynote address at the 2013 Columbia College Class Day ceremony. The annual event, which honors graduating seniors, will take place on Tuesday, May 21, 2013, on the South Lawn of Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus.
McNally is the winner of four Tony Awards for his plays Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994) and Master Class (1995) and for his books for the musicals Ragtime (1998) and Kiss of the Spiderwoman (1993), and an Emmy Award for his teleplay Andre’s Mother (1990). He received a citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1992 and was awarded the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
“Terrence McNally is one of America’s most important playwrights and he started his theatrical career writing for the Columbia Varsity Show,” said James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and vice president for undergraduate education. “We are honored that he has accepted our invitation to return to campus to speak to the graduating class of 2013 and I am really looking forward to hearing such a talented, creative and accomplished alumnus speak.”
McNally’s plays include Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (1987), Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991), The Lisbon Traviata (1989), Corpus Christi (1997), The Ritz (1975), Some Men (2006), A Perfect Ganesh (1993), It’s Only a Play (1986), Bad Habits (1974), The Stendhal Syndrome (2004), Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams (2004), Deuce (2007) and Unusual Acts of Devotion (2008), and he has written the books for the musicals The Full Monty (2000), A Man of No Importance (2002), and The Visit (2001), amongst many others. He also wrote the libretto for the opera Dead Man Walking (2000). This season, his play Golden Age (2012) opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club. The Pearl Theatre will premiere his new play And Away We Go (2012) in the early fall. In 2010, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presented Nights at the Opera, a three-play festival of his work.
McNally was born November 3, 1938 in St. Petersburg, Fla., and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. He moved to New York in 1956 to attend Columbia College, where he majored in English and wrote the 66th Varsity Show, “A Little Bit Different,” during his senior year. He graduated cum laude and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He later worked briefly for Columbia College Today. He received the John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement from the College in 1992 and the inaugural I.A.L. Diamond (CC ’41) Award for Achievement in the Arts in 2004. He lives in Greenwich Village with his husband, Thomas Kirdahy.