Jeff Weiss, an Unconventional Theatrical Force, Dies at 82
Jeff Weiss, who helped transform the Broadway stage into a laboratory for experiments in alternative storytelling since the 1960s, died of respiratory problems on Friday night at the age of 82.
“The show is the art,” he said in his final interview, according to the New York Times. “So I’m not going to put myself in a box and say there is only one way forward.”
The former playwright, director and actor died of complications related to a chronic lung disease at his Manhattan home. He was 80.
In his final remarks, he emphasized that he was a “writer first” and performer second, and that his work was “based on the most basic principles of theatre: to get the work from the audience as much as possible, to put the audience in charge.”
He is survived by his wife, Liza, and their four children.
Here are excerpts of Weiss’ final interviews with New York Times reporters:
“What I did, I don’t feel like I’m done,” he told one reporter. “My vision is I don’t want to be just another playwright. I want to be a theater company. I want to be a theatre company that’s a big part of the American culture, but it’s not a big part of the American consciousness, and that means people should say I saw you at the American Theater Wing instead of seeing it somewhere else.”
“I’ve had quite a bit of success,” he said. “There are not many people like me who have not had success. And what I always tell my students is that most of our failures start when the critics say we are not trying.”
“I always knew I wanted to be a critic. I just didn’t know what it meant to be one.”
He also spoke to The New York Times’s Elizabeth Weitzman about