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Len Berkman

Anne Hesseltine Hoyt Professor of Theatre

Leonard Berkman


Theatre 203


Having taught playwriting, theater history and the dramatic literature of various nations and cultures since 1969, Len Berkman has received Distinguished Teacher (1992), Sherrerd Prize (2011) and Charis Medal awards. His former students number such diverse theater, television and film professionals as Wendy Wasserstein, Kevin Heelan, Liev Schreiber, Patricia Wettig, Kathleen Marshall, John Eisner, Addie Walsh, Margaret Edson, Desiree Akhavan, Emily Wiest, Dare Clubb and Erin Cressida Wilson. Among Berkman's plays are We Three/ Wir Drei (a fantasy stirred by the self-portraits of German Romantic painter Philipp Otto Runge and being translated into German by Yannik Raiss), Excuse Me For Even Daring To Open My Mouth, 'Til The Beatles Reunite, Adultery Without Touch, Voila! Rape In Technicolor, Missing Children, I Won't Go See A Play Called "A Parent's Worst Nightmare," Quits, Quote Unquote, andThese Are Not My Breasts. His essays appear in such journals as Modern Drama, Massachusetts Review and Parnassus, and in such books as Blackwell's Companion to Contemporary Theatre, American Jewish Women Writers and Upstaging Big Daddy.

Berkman has served as Hispanic Playwrights Project/Festival Dramaturg at South Coast Repertory, as Mark Taper Forum's playwright mentor in Los Angeles, as new-play-development dramaturg at WordBRIDGE in Florida, at Epic Theatre Ensemble in New York City, and on script development teams at Robert Redford's Sundance Institute in Utah. For more than 28 years he has run ragged but cheerful as dramaturg for New York Stage & Film Company's new play readings/workshops and summer productions. By latest count, he has been involved with more than 600 professional plays and productions in development.

Berkman has also been frequently called upon as external evaluator for the National Endowment of the Arts and for university departments of theater and dance. An active professional consultant, he was on Voice & Vision's Women's Theatre Circle of Advisers (NYC) throughout its lifetime, served on Roberta Uno's New World Theatre (Amherst, Massachusetts) Advisory Board for all of its 30-year existence, and was script evaluator for CLIO Inc., Lola van Wagenen's New York City-based organization producing video documentaries on women's history and women's issues.

He is editorial associate for Contemporary Theatre Review, a journal based in London, which he has worked with for nearly two decades. Through two Fulbright Senior Specialist Grants and several Smith faculty exchanges, Berkman has also become a familiar face as spring/summer guest professor at the University of Hamburg in Germany.


Ph.D., M.F.A., Yale

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks