Spence Porter

Spence Porter

I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and, in the course of a peripatetic childhood, lived in Minnesota, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Georgia again, and finally the Bronx, where I went to the Bronx High School of Science. I attended Harvard College, where I graduated with honors in Applied Math and Physics. This was followed by a year of wandering around Europe at Harvard’s expense, and then, after being expelled from...
I was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and, in the course of a peripatetic childhood, lived in Minnesota, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Georgia again, and finally the Bronx, where I went to the Bronx High School of Science. I attended Harvard College, where I graduated with honors in Applied Math and Physics. This was followed by a year of wandering around Europe at Harvard’s expense, and then, after being expelled from the Iowa Writers Workshop (!), by theater school at Ohio University, where I got an M.F.A. in Playwriting. I then returned to the Bronx and a long lonely period in which nobody seemed to understand the sort of fusion of dance and puppetry and masks and music and theater that I was doing. Nevertheless, I kept writing.

I’m really thrilled that, with the arrival of a new young generation of theater artists and audiences, there’s been a wonderful explosion of interest in my work, both in the United States and internationally. There have now been 17 productions of my plays (which used to be described as “unproducible”), most recently Francesca in Leiden, The Netherlands, and The Woman from the Sea, which was commissioned by Terry Schreiber and directed by him in New York City.

Plays

  • THE MOUSE PRINCE
    A large-scale epic fantasy for adults, full of elves and mice and blood and magic. A complex mix of puppets and live actors. Funny and passionate and beautiful and wild.
  • SICK MINDS: an evening of appallingly bad taste, featuring Warped Desires and Milton Eckendorf, Jr, Infant Detective
    Exactly what it sounds like it is (except much more so). 150 characters played by two men, three women, and a piano player. When the Long Wharf Theater turned it down, they wrote, "I think most of our audience would faint from some of these scenes." Sounds fine to me! (I was flabbergasted to discover that at one point there was a teenage fan club for this play!)
  • HIPPOLYTUS
    Loosely based on the Greek play--Greeks and jazz and masks and modern dress. Flamboyantly theatrical.
  • THE WOMAN FROM THE SEA
    The HCNY Bulletin describes "this new off-off-Broadway hit", saying "Spence Porter's new play, The Woman from the Sea (based on a play by Ibsen) is the passionate and gripping story of a woman haunted by her past." No puppets or stuff in this one, but I love it all the same. It was commissioned and premiered by the renowned acting teacher and Broadway director Terry Schreiber.
  • FRANCESCA
    A doomed love story set in the Middle Ages. Very Big and Romantic. Visually spectacular. Fantastic role for a beautiful, intelligent, passionate young actress. When Francesca was done in Leiden, the Leidsch Dagblad wrote "The Theater was vibrating with passion last night."
  • ARGUMENTS WITH MYSELF
    A suite of six short plays, all of them very different from each other (and even more different from anything that anyone else is doing)--dance and puppets and vaudeville. All sorts of strange stuff! (One of the sections that make up this show, The Invincible Chastity of Arnie Bielowski, has been produced several times in Holland to fabulous reviews.