Profile: Lloyd Richards (1919-2006)

Lloyd George Richards was a Canadian-American theatre director, actor, and dean of the Yale School of Drama from 1979 to 1991, and Yale University professor emeritus.


Richards was born in Toronto, Ontario, but was raised in Detroit, Michigan. His father, a Jamaican carpenter turned auto-industry worker, died when Richards was nine years old. Soon after, his mother lost her eyesight, he and his brother Allan kept the family together. He later went on to study law at Wayne University where instead he found his way in theatrical arts after a brief break during World War II while serving in the U.S. Army Air Force.

Among Richards’ accomplishments are his staging the original production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, debuting on Broadway to standing ovations on 11 March 1959, and in 1984 he introduced August Wilson to Broadway in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Richards was Dean of Yale School of Drama and Artistic Director of Yale Repertory Theatre, both in New Haven, Connecticut, from 1979 to 1991; he became Professor Emeritus at Yale School of Drama after his retirement.

Richards died of heart failure on his eighty-seventh birthday in New York City.

Richards also taught Moscow Art Theatre acting technique under Paul Mann at the Actor’s Workshop in New York alongside Morris Carnovsky.

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