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Robin Williams Brings a New Playwright’s Vision to Life in From Page to Stage

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PBS Independent Lens From Page to Stage


Although still every bit as much an irrepressible comedic imp today as he was over 30 years ago on Mork and Mindy, Robin Williams is also a fine dramatic actor – and not just on television or in the movies. In From Page to Stage, the current star of CBS’ The Crazy Ones demonstrates that not only can he tread the boards on Broadway, but also that he is still willing to take chances with his craft – and not for his own fame but instead to help bring a young playwright’s vision to life.

From Page to Stage is part of the Independent Lens series, and will air on most PBS stations on Monday, December 16 at 10 pm ET.

Rajiv Joseph is that playwright. When efforts to bring his Pulitzer Prize-nominated Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo to the New York stage began to falter for lack of a celebrity hook, Williams stepped up to the plate. His name and his talent gave Joseph’s work the boost it needed and deserved. The dream-like fantasy drama set in the Iraq War was not the first of the Cleveland-born Indian American’s works to be performed, but as this PBS film achingly demonstrates, a lot more than just good writing is needed for a play to make it From Page to Stage.

Tarrel Alvin McCraney is another playwright who faced similar challenges in bringing his vision to the stage. A young, gay, black man from inner city Miami, McCraney at least had the good fortune to be a member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company and had his talents recognized by the Royal Shakespeare Company, which made him their international playwright in residence. Despite those and other credentials and contacts, like Joseph, McCraney has spent many hard years in the struggle to have his works performed.

In this film Director Robert Levi weaves the stories of these two talented playwrights together into a seamless, entertaining and revealing look at what it takes to bring a playwright’s vision From Page to Stage. Although the bits with Robin Williams are a delightful treat, the real story here is about bringing the creative process to life in the modern American theater.

Although Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) has not yet scheduled From Page to Stage, it will air on most PBS stations as part of the Independent Lens series at 10 p.m. ET Monday, December 16.

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Mark G. McLaughlin is a Connecticut-based free lance journalist and game designer with over 30 years of experience as a ghost-writer, columnist, historian and game designer. An author whose first published book was Battles of the American Civil War, and whose games include the Mr. Lincoln’s War set, Mark continues to be enthralled by stories from the age of Lincoln. To view Mark's 16th published design, the American Civil War Naval strategy game Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, visit his publisher at
…or his blog at
Mark’s latest work, the science fiction adventure novel Princess Ryan's Star Marines, is available on in both paperback and Kindle e-book formats at
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