Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Spalding Gray

Spalding Rockwell Gray (June 5, 1941 – ca. January 10, 2004) was an American actor, playwright, screenwriter, performance artist, and monologist. He was primarily known for his trenchant, personal narratives delivered on sparse, unadorned sets with a dry, WASP, quiet mania. Gray achieved celebrity for writing and acting in the play Swimming to Cambodia, adapted into a film in 1987. Gray's books Impossible Vacation and Sex and Death to the Age 14 are largely based on his childhood and early adulthood.

Gray was born in Providence, Rhode Island to Rockwell Gray, Sr., a factory worker, and Margaret Elizabeth "Betty" Horton, a homemaker. He also had two younger brothers – Channing Michael and Rockwell, Jr. He was raised in the Christian Scientist faith and was raised in Barrington, Rhode Island, and spent summers at his grandmother's house in Newport.

After graduating from Barrington High School, he enrolled at Emerson College as a poetry major, where he earned his B.A. in 1963.

In 1965, Gray moved to San Francisco and became a speaker and teacher of poetry at the Esalen Institute. In 1967, while Gray was vacationing in Mexico City, his mother committed suicide at the age of 52. After his mother's death, Gray moved away from the west coast and permanently settled in New York City.

He began his career in regional theatre, moved to New York in 1967 and three years later joined Richard Schechner's experimental troupe, the Performance Group. He co-founded the Wooster Group ensemble in 1975.

He died in January, 2004, in New York City of an apparent suicide.

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