Deloss Brown

HEART OF A DOG

A scientist turns a dog into a man by transplanting into him the pituitary of a petty thief and drunkard, and unfortunately the newly created man retains many of the donor's bad habits.

THE RED AND THE BLACK

The play is based on Book One of Stendhal's novel, Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black).

THE SHEIK

Jack, an advertising executive, hires a gay employee, Frank, to get Jack’s wife, Marty, into a compromising situation so that he can divorce her and marry his low-watt-bulb secretary, Patsy, whom he has gotten pregnant.

Deloss Brown, playwright, has led a life of crime, stealing the works of real writers and passing it off as his own. 

He was born November 2, 1941 in Battle Creek, Michigan, and moved to Peoria, Illinois, where he was raised.  He attended high school in Tucson, Arizona, where he learned to play polo and rope calves.  He went to MIT and graduated in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in humanities and science (MIT’s equivalent of a BA) and a BS in chemistry.  He was on active duty with the US Army for five months, then spent five years as a physical biochemist.  In 1968 he wrote (with Jeff Meldman) and directed MIT’s Tech Show (it was like Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Show, although MIT’s had girls, borrowed from other colleges), I Wed Three Wives, which was stolen from Euripides’ Alcestis and Lucius Apuleius’ Metamorphoses (two indictments).  One of the faculty advisers for the production was A. R. Gurney Jr. who, regrettably, made him take out one of the best parts of the play. 

That MIT experience convinced him that he was in the wrong field (the number of explosions he had caused in laboratories should have been a hint).  He was admitted to Columbia University’s playwriting program, where his thesis play, Jonathan Wild (lifted from Fielding’s novel—a blatant example of repeat offending) was directed by Bernard Beckerman, the noted Shakespeare scholar, and won the Shubert Prize.  At one point during rehearsals Dr. Beckerman said to (yelled at) him in exasperation, “It’s clear to me that you have no idea what kind of a play you’ve written!”  Isaiah Sheffer, founder of Symphony Space, tried to get him to think about motivations in his direction.  Jack Gelber, author of The Connection, tried to improve his playwriting with little success.  Albert Bermel was sympathetic and recommended him as to Juilliard (coming up). 

Out of Columbia he was hired as an electrician by Joe Papp and spent several happy years working in the basement of the Public Theatre and at treetop level in Central Park and writing and getting produced Off-off-Broadway. 

In 1975 he joined the BMI Musical Theater Workshop as a lyricist and librettist, and stayed until Lehman Engel’s death.  Lehman taught him that the usual structure for a theater song was AABA, and that one shouldn’t use false rhymes.  Songs with his lyrics were presented in three of the BMI Showcases. 

In 1981 he was hired to teach verse acting at the Juilliard School and as dramaturge helped out less experienced writers like Shakespeare, Sheridan, Gay, Brecht and Williams by rewriting, translating and adding to their plays and lyrics to make them palatable (read: “dumb”) for Juilliard’s audiences.  Also in 1981 his play Heart of a Dog (stolen from Bulgakov’s novella—you begin to see a horrid pattern) was produced at the McCarter Theater in Princeton (directed by fellow MIT graduate Robert Lanchester) then at UC Riverside.  The best thing in 1981 was when his son Lyman was born. 

In 1983 he directed his own translation of Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, a Russian, in which Kevin Spacey played the Professor. 

He translated some Schubert (with a C) songs and shamelessly sang his own “Elfking” at Isaiah Sheffer’s Symphony Space’s Wall-to-Wall Schubert Day in 1986.  David Tice played the accompaniment, which is a lot harder than the vocal line.  In 1989 Reduced Voltage was performed at the American Theater of Actors. 

Also in 1989 he joined the faculties of NYU’s Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing and the Department of Drama, teaching Shakespeare and medieval drama to defenseless playwrights and actors.  For NYU he directed three Shakespeare plays and some medieval ones, and improved them all by adding lyrics for which Raphael Crystal and Bob Trien wrote the music.   

Heart of a Dog was produced by Classic Stage Company in 1990. 

He left Juilliard in 1992 and co-founded Cressid Theater Company which produced Shakespeare plays 1994-96 at Lincoln Center and elsewhere (for which he and Mr. Crystal added more songs).  In 1997 he directed his own translation of Three Sisters by the Russian mentioned above.  He added no songs except for “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay,” which he does not claim to have written. 

In 2001 he directed a production of Love Me, Love Me Not at Ball State University and then on Theater Row, with songs for which he and Mr. Crystal wrote the lyrics and music and the students wrote the book, which was based on (same thing as “stolen from”) Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost.

In 2007 The Sheik was produced first as a reading then as a production by Medicine Show Theatre Company.  It was—oh, let’s use a less pejorative word—a remaniement of Richard Steele’s 1705 sentimental comedy The Tender Husband as a contemporary farce.

In 2009 his translation of Three Sisters was produced at Passaic Community College. 

In 2012 he directed staged readings of his play The Red and the Black (adapted from an obscure novel of the same name by one Stendhal, a Frenchman) at Shetler Studios, then at Casa Italiana at NYU. 

The Red and the Black was produced at Theatre at St. Clement’s by Capolavori Productions in 2013.

His textbook on verse techniques, Why Hamlet Delays was on sale at Applause Books (until their store was driven out of business by the Juilliard Bookstore) and was also used as a textbook at City College by Marc Palmieri.  He has published three articles on verse acting in Back Stage.  His articles “Where is Love’s Labor’s Lost?” and “Where is Love’s Labor’s Won?” are on line at The Journal of the Cerise Press.  He is a co-author of “Selective Nonenzymic Cleavage of the Myosin Rod: Isolation of the Coiled-Coil-Rope Section from the C-Terminus of the Molecule,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 61 (1968). 

He has spent 28 years as a technical writer, producing such documents as “ATP III Emergency Release 1.0.g,” and Marine Corps Systematic Recruiting Volume 7

He teaches Shakespearean acting privately and teaches Shakespeare for Writers at NYU.