Tony-Winning Playwright Christopher Durang Dead at 75

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Christopher Durang

Christopher Durang, the Tony Award-winning playwright known for such scripts as Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which earned the Tony for Best Play in 2013, has died. He was 75 years old.

His agent, Patrick Herold, told the New York Times that Durang passed away at his own home in Pipersville, Pennsylvania, as a result of complications of logopenic primary progressive aphasia, a rare form of dementia he was diagnosed with in 2016.

According to the Mayo Clinic, primary progressive aphasia is a form of frontotemporal dementia—the same disease Bruce Willis was diagnosed with last year—that is caused by cell degeneration in the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain and which causes difficulty when it comes to understanding or finding words and eventually leads to a complete inability to understand both written and spoken language.

The logopenic variant specifically causes difficulty with long sentences, an inability to repeat sentences back to the speaker, and broken speech during long searches for the right words.

The writer was an expert when it came to satirical and farcical comedy, and his works were seen on and off-Broadway, and multiple works were later adapted for film, including Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, starring Diane Keaton, and Beyond Therapy, starring Glenda Jackson and Jeff Goldblum, though Durang and critics alike were disappointed by the end result.

His final plays, Turning Off the Morning News, and Harriet and Other Horrible People were written across the two years following his diagnosis. The latter has never been produced, although it received a reading in Nashville in 2017.

Durang is survived by his husband, John Augustine. His funeral services will be kept private, but his agent said another memorial service would be announced at a later date.

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