Our friend Marion McClinton passed away Thursday morning, November 28th. As an actor, director, playwright, and mentor, Marion’s devotion to the art of theater was absolute. He was an Obie-award winner and a Broadway legend for his work directing August Wilson’s plays. He was hugely important to the Playwrights’ Center, one of only seven artists in the Center’s close to fifty-year history to receive lifetime support as a legacy Core Writer. “Legacy” is an apt term when talking about Marion, whose impact on the American and Twin Cities theater landscape is immeasurable.
Generations and generations from now, there will be people making theater who are doing so because of Marion, because of how generously and passionately Marion created. Because he believed Black stories belong on stages of all sizes, and told those stories with nuance and empathy. Because he had confidence in his aesthetic and an eye for talent. Because he fostered authentic and long-term collaborations, always challenging his collaborators to be bolder and more truthful.
There are so many theater artists, in particular artists of color, who got their start and stuck with it because Marion believed in them. When we honored Marion at our 45th anniversary celebration in 2017, Idris Goodwin called him “the type of theater collaborator that helps you better understand yourself as an artist and your position in the great lineage.” Marion talked about this lineage, about “the blood of those who came before me, who fought outrageous battles in outrageous times.” Marion’s blood will always run through the veins of American theater, the force of his remarkable life like a wind at our backs, pushing us toward something more challenging and profound, something that would make Marion proud.
How you can help
Over the past year, there have been many outstanding costs to compensate Marion's incredible and generous medical care team who have stood beside him unflinchingly at the hospital and at home, as well as other expenses. One of the many ways we're celebrating Marion's life is by sharing the GoFundMe page in support of the artistry he shared with artists and audiences across our theater community.