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The Writer

Notes From an Empty Mind...

DW Gregory. Playwright.It has been reported that DWG was raised in a cave by Romanian werewolves, which accounts for both her odd behavior during the full moon and her singular lack of social skills growing up—but that is only a rumor and we cannot confirm it. We do know that when she was 18, a band of roving gypsies smuggled her across the border and she eventually made her way in Paris,

where she supported herself as a chanteuse (“Le Vantard Peu”) and fell in with a literary crowd. Too much champagne with Scott and Zelda, however, led to an unfortunate incident with a bowling ball, but Scott forgave her. Whispering, “It will always be you, my darling D,” he slipped her a couple of twenties and she fled by steamer for New York. While on board, DW fell in love with a German typing instructor who turned out to be the dispossessed younger son of an exiled Russian prince—as well as a pretty mean canasta player. But alas, Fritz was a bit old-fashioned and this union led DW to a deepening, downward spiral of housework and gardening.

She hit bottom finally while cleaning the attic of her townhouse in East Lansing, Michigan. There she rediscovered the old Royal manual typewriter that had led her to Fritz in the first place, and with it, a ream of blank paper. During an all-night caffeine binge, she banged out the now lost draft of her autobiographical first play, “Der Lügner und der Fischweib.” Several more scripts materialized, though this effort failed to bear fruit. But by early 1950, her old friends from Paris had drifted back to the States and one of them ran a theatre in North Jersey. We won’t say who, but he had connections.

After a remarkable debut production, Hollywood called and hung up on her, leaving DW to support herself as a hat-check girl at Sardi’s while searching desperately for a sugar daddy to support her writing habit. This was a challenge as DW was well past her prime and the women’s movement was a decade away. (That awkward phase between major social movements is always a rough patch.)

The 1960s and 70s proved to be lonely but fruitful years, however, and by the mid 1980s, DW had finally found her voice as a playwright and fabulist. It is said she has written 147 scripts, but many of them have been misfiled somewhere. Yet, as she approaches her 112th birthday, DW has no plans to retire. Rather, she looks forward to her second childhood in a Bavarian nursing home as well as many more angry emails from readers demanding to know what on earth she is talking about.

No, but really

D.W. Gregory writes in a variety of styles and genres, from historical drama to screwball comedy, but a recurring theme is the exploration of political issues through a personal lens. The New York Times called her “a playwright with a talent to enlighten and provoke” for her most produced play, RADIUM GIRLS (Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey), about dialpainters poisoned on the job in the 1920s. A resident playwright at New Jersey Rep, she received a Pulitzer nomination for the Rep’s production of THE GOOD DAUGHTER, the story of a Missouri farm family struggling to adapt to rapid social change. Other plays include THE GOOD GIRL IS GONE (Playwrights Theatre) , a black comedy about maternal indifference; OCTOBER 1962 (NJ Rep), a Cold War era psychological thriller; and MOLUMBY’S MILLION (Iron Age Theatre Co.), a comedy about the boxer Jack Dempsey, which was nominated for the 2011 Barrymore Award for Outstanding New Play by the Theatre Alliance of Philadelphia.

Her work has been developed through the support of the National New Play Network, the Maryland Arts Council, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and has been presented at the New Harmony Project, ShenanArts, The Playwrights’ Center, Theatre of the First Amendment, NYU’s HotInk Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Lark, Florida Stage, Geva Theatre, the Women’s Project, and the Young Vic, among others. D.W. also writes frequently for youth theatre. Her play SALVATION ROAD, about a boy whose sister disappears into a fundamentalist church, was developed through New York University's Steinhardt New Plays for Young Audiences program and is slated for several productions in 2012-13. A member of the Dramatists Guild, a former national core member of The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, and a recent inductee into the League of Professional Theatre Women, Ms. Gregory is also founding member of the Playwrights Gymnasium, a process oriented workshop based in metro Washington, D.C.