Director, playwright, and actor Marion McClinton, a Tony nominee for his direction of August Wilson's King Hedley II in 2001, has died at age 65. McClinton was known for his productions of the late Wilson's dramas, having maintained a long friendship and professional relationship with the acclaimed playwright.
In addition to bringing both King Hedley II and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2003) to Broadway, other McClinton-helmed Wilson productions include Gem of the Ocean at Chicago's Goodman Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles; Seven Guitars and Two Trains Running at Baltimore's Center Stage and Pittsburgh Public; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at Missouri Repertory; Fences at Indiana Repertory Theatre; and Jitney, seen at Pittsburgh Public, Center Stage, Studio Arena, the Mark Taper Forum, the Goodman, and more.
According to The New York Times, McClinton passed away November 28 in his home base of St. Paul, Minneapolis. His son told the Times that the cause was kidney failure.
“I was supposed to be on dialysis for 10 years max, then gone, but here I am, year 16, and I’ve still got work to do,” McClinton said in September in his last media interview with Minneapolis' Star Tribune. “I’ve learned a great deal about humanity, and I have a great deal to share.”
McClinton also directed Drowning Crow, Regina Taylor's contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, on Broadway in 2004. Off-Broadway, he helmed Kia Corthron's play Breath, Boom! at Playwrights Horizons; Eugene Lee's East Texas Hot Links at The Public Theater; Sarah Schulman's Carson McCullers (Historically Inaccurate) at Playwrights Horizons (a co-production with Women's Project Theater); and a production of Jitney at Second Stage.
McClinton directed extensively in regional theatres. Productions included Lorraine Hansberry's Les Blancs and Corthron's Splash Hatch on the E Going Down at Center Stage in Baltimore; Keb' Mo' and Keith Glover's musical Thunder Knocking on the Door at Minneapolis' Guthrie, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Center Stage, and the Dallas Theater Center; Glover's The Coming of the Hurricane at Center Stage and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.; Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at La Jolla Playhouse; and Eisa Davis’ Bulrusher at the Pillsbury House Theatre in his hometown of Minneapolis.
McClinton was also a playwright and actor. His plays included Police Boys, seen at Playwrights Horizons in 1995, directed by Donald Douglass, as well as at Center Stage and Pittsburgh Public; Walkers, Stones and Bones, seen at Actors Theatre of Louisville; Who Causes the Darkness? at Minneapolis' Penumbra Theater, where he was a company member. At Penumbra, he also helmed Wilson's The Piano Lesson.
Among other accolades, McClinton was the winner of two AUDELCOs, an Obie Award, and the Kesselring Prize, and the recipient of Drama Desk and Evening Standard nominations. He was an associate artist at Center Stage and an alumnus of New Dramatists.
A number of theatres and members of the theatre community have taken to social media to share their condolences, including Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, Tony and Oscar winner Viola Davis, Oscar-winning writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, Tracie Thoms, the Guthrie, and Baltimore Center Stage.