MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of February 1983

Peter Sellars

Theater and Opera Director

Boston, Massachusetts

Age: 26 at time of award

Published February 1, 1983

Peter Sellars is a stage director of theater and opera productions.

Influenced by the European tradition of avant-garde drama, Sellars draws upon movements as diverse as symbolism, futurism, constructivism, cubism, expressionism, dadaism, and surrealism.  As a director, he has moved away from plot and linear action, toward abstraction and spectacle in combination with older, more visual forms.  As director of the American National Theater at Washington’s Kennedy Center (1984-86), he staged more than twenty works, classics as well as the avant-garde.  Sellars directed the original opera productions of Nigel Osborne’s The Electrification of the Soviet Union, as well as John Adams’s Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer.  In 2002 and 2003, he produced a little-known tragedy, Children of Herakles by Greek playwright Euripides with a cast of refugees to bring attention to the plight of displaced people from war-torn lands.

Sellars has also served as the artistic director of the Boston Shakespeare Company, the Elitch Theatre for Children in Denver, and as artistic director and producer of the biennial Los Angeles Festival (1988-96).  He is a professor of World Arts and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Sellars received a B.A. (1980) from Harvard University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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