Robert Patrick, playwright, passed away on April 23, 2023, at his home in Los Angeles. He was 85. He was born on September 27, 1937 in Kilgore, Texas. He began his theatrical career at the legendary Caffe Cino in New York in 1961. Robert Patrick was a friend of 55 years.

Robert Patrick. PC: Jason Trucco.

Robert Patrick was an American playwright and a pioneer in Off-Off Broadway and gay theatre. He published over 60 plays. His first, The Haunted Host, premiered at Caffe Cino in 1964 and was one of the first productions of gay theatres in New York.

He wrote and produced hundreds of plays including Kennedy’s Children for which Shirley Knight won the Tony Award; (Phebe’s, East Village, NYC. was the setting for his play Kennedy’s Children). Golden Circle, Camera Obscura produced on PBS and starring Marge Champion; My Cup Runneth Over commissioned by Marlo Thomas, The Haunted Host with Harvey Fierstein.  His awards include the Show Business (magazine) Best Play Award; Glasgow Citizens’ Theatre Best World Playwrighting Award; International Thespian Society Founders Award for Services to Theatre and to Youth; the Robert Chesley Award for Lifetime Achievement in Gay Playwrighting; The New York Innovative Theatre Artistic Achievement Award and the Charles Rodman Award for 50 Years of Service to Gay Theatre.

Robert touched the lives of thousands of people – actors, playwrights, producers both on Broadway, OOB, and points in between.

Robert is best described in his own words:

I am a single, gay Libran writer and ghostwriter living in Los Angeles strictly for the sunshine. I abide in good-natured despair about the failure of the ideals of the 60’s revolution. I see the western world at present in terms of the theories of Christopher Lasch (“The Culture of Narcissus”) and Alice Miller (“The Drama of the Gifted Child”). I’m not sure anything can be done about the mess our wasteland is in, but I do regard the collapse of our civilization as a fascinating opportunity for a writer to discern the structure of the culture crumbling around him. I regard myself as a refugee from the apocalypse, striving to keep alight a small campfire of human humor in an increasingly dreary darkness. I am not committed to any particular cause, nor am I apt to be convertible to yours. In the interminable struggles for status and identity which pass for “parties” in our culture, I haven’t yet found a side I’d care to take.

Henrik Eger, a contributor with Philadelphia Gay News spoke with Patrick and asked him about his life both as a child and as a playwright:

Robert Patrick. PC: Joan Lundin.

Robert was asked …is there anything you have not done, but would like to experience?

True love. And I would like to have the money to build or buy a theatre in L.A. with enough ground space that I could call it “Robert Patrick’s Free Parking Theatre,” because in L.A., the theater would fill up for every performance no matter what show was on, just because of the magic words “Free Parking.” Then I could do whatever plays I liked.”


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This post was written by Magie Dominic.

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