2016-17 Recipient

Michael Weller

Michael Weller ’65 is an award-winning playwright who has authored more than 40 produced plays (among them “Moonchildren,” “Loose Ends,” “Fifty Words” and “Spoils of War”) and has been hailed as “the chronicler of the generation, those who came of age in the 1960s.” He wrote the screenplays for Miloš Forman’s films “Hair” and “Ragtime,” the latter earning Weller an Academy Award nomination.

As an undergraduate at Brandeis University, Weller majored in music composition and took his first playwriting class with John F. Matthews, the Theater Arts Department’s founding chair. He credits Matthews with encouraging him to pursue graduate studies in England, where he completed an MFA in theater at the University of Manchester. Shortly thereafter, Weller completed his first play, originally titled “Cancer” but later renamed “Moonchildren.” The play, according to Weller, is based on his Brandeis experience, and it has gained extensive international acclaim.

“Moonchildren” earned Weller a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Playwright. He has also received an NAACP Outstanding Contribution Award, a Outer Critics Circle Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award and the Helen Merrill Award. The Broken Watch Theatre Company named its playhouse in his honor. He is president of the Writer’s Guild Initiative and a lifetime council member of the Dramatists Guild of America, as well as a member of the Writers Guild of America East and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

Weller founded the Mentor Project of the Cherry Lane Theatre and supervised it for its first 10 years. He teaches at the School of Drama of the New School in New York.