Partner Denis O'Hare
Brown University, 13 Brown St, Providence, RI 02906
Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520
Maple Grove Cemetery, 127-15 Kew Gardens Rd, Kew Gardens, NY 11415
Derek Anson Jones (February 24, 1961 - January 17, 2000) was the director of ''Wit,'' which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for drama.
With a clean, precise vision of an emotionally complex play, Jones received the best reviews of his short career for ''Wit,'' the story of a haughty literature professor whose defenses are broken down by her battle with ovarian cancer.
It was a play with which Jones had long been associated; he and the playwright, Margaret Edson, had been best friends since the two were students together -- and each other's prom dates -- at the Sidwell Friends School in Washington.
Passionate about Edson's work, Jones played the role of the stricken professor during an informal reading of the script in 1991 and kept a copy of the play with him for several years, continually showing it to artistic directors of theaters.
Finally, in 1997, Jones convinced the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven to produce the play, with Kathleen Chalfant in the lead role. Positive reviews led to a New York production at the MCC Theater on West 28th Street, where the play became the surprise hit of the 1999 season.
After a brief flirtation with Broadway, Jones helped take ''Wit'' Off Broadway, to the Union Square Theater. Lisa Harrow of the Royal Shakespeare Company took over the lead role from Judith Light.
Jones's approach to the play was simple, allowing Edson's language to dominate the stage. Still, using a series of sliding curtains and minimal lighting, Jones managed almost seamlessly to conjure settings as varied as a hospital, a lecture hall and a family's living room. His work was honored with the 1999 Lucille Lortel Award for direction as well as a Drama Desk nomination.
A graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, Jones also worked extensively in the regional theater, directing at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and at New York Stage and Film in Poughkeepsie.
Since ''Wit,'' Jones directed ''An American Daughter'' and ''Much Ado About Nothing'' at the Long Wharf, and ''Angelique,'' at MCC Theater.
He died on January 17, 2000, at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan. He was 38. The cause was AIDS, said his companion, Denis O'Hare.
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