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Mon, 07.26.1954

Marion McClinton, Playwright born

Marion McClinton

*Marion McClinton was born on this date in 1954.  He was a Black theatre director, playwright, and actor.  

Marion Isaac McClinton was born and raised in St. Paul. He attended Catholic school before briefly attending the College of St Thomas in 1973 and then the University of Minnesota.  Swept up in the partying scene, McClinton credits theater with eventually straightening him out.  

He earned his first acting job under Bellamy’s directing of “The River Niger” in 1976 and made his own directing debut in 1992 at Baltimore’s Center Stage with his play, “Police Boys.”  McClinton's early theater career was at Penumbra Theatre Company.  He played the part of the narrator in August Wilson's first stage piece, Black Bart and the Sacred Hills, in 1981 and remained active at Penumbra through the early 1990s.  He directed most of August Wilson's plays on Broadway and regionally and was termed "One of the leading Wilson directors." 

The first premiere of Wilson's works that he directed was King Hedley II in 2001, taking over from the then-retired Lloyd Richards as Wilson's director. He was nominated for the Tony Award for King Hedley II. He won the 2000 Vivian Robinson Audelco Black Theatre Awards, Director/Dramatic Production, and the 1999–2000 Obie Awards, Direction, for Jitney, and was nominated for the Drama Desk Award.  He was an associate artist at Center Stage in Baltimore, Maryland, directing several Wilson plays, Les Blancs and Splash Hatch on the E Going Down.

He directed at, among others, the Pittsburgh Public Theater (several Wilson plays), Guthrie Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and Playwrights Horizons. At the Goodman Theatre, he directed a staged reading of Fences as part of the Goodman's August Wilson Celebration in February 2007. He had previously directed King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, and Jitney at the Goodman.  He directed an Off-Broadway production of Pure Confidence in 2009 as part of America's Off-Broadway Festival.  Marion McClinton died from renal failure in Saint Paul on November 28, 2019.  

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