Paul Lucas – Theatre producer, writer
Born October 15, 1961; died August 11, 2020
Paul Lucas, who has died peacefully at home in New Jersey aged 58 following a short battle with cancer, was a theatre producer whose work was fired with passion and energy. Whether presenting solo pieces or ensemble works, Lucas was unwavering in his integrity and his dedication to saying what needed to be said onstage. Lucas facilitated this with a charm and an inherent sense of fun that embraced anyone who became part of his orbit. If you were a friend of Paul Lucas, you were a friend for life.
This openhearted ebullience never undermined the seriousness of Lucas’s work. That was the case with both the Herald Angel winning The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac and Simon Levy’s dramatic adaptation of Eliot Weinberger’s prose poem, What I Heard About Iraq, both of which Lucas brought to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2006. It was there even more in Trans Scripts, Part 1: The Women, which revealed Lucas the playwright in a show that drew from verbatim interviews with the trans community to create a disparate patchwork of moving real-life testimonies that gave it collective voice.
After three years of development, Lucas brought Trans Scripts, his first play, to Edinburgh in 2015. Seen in the hotbed of the Fringe in a sweatbox of a space at the Pleasance, Trans Scripts received multiple accolades, and was highly commended in that year’s Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. The play went on to be performed by American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University, where the Boston Globe hailed it as one of the top ten productions of the year. The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers similarly named it as one of the top ten theatrical moments of the year.
All this happened under the banner of Paul Lucas Productions, the company Lucas founded to stage work by artistic kindred spirits at home and abroad, including numerous other shows he brought to Edinburgh. A sense of inclusiveness was at the heart of everything Lucas did, both in his work and in the legendary parties he threw, where paintings of friends lined the walls. In this sense Lucas could be regarded as a collector and curator, both of art and the people who made it happen.
Lucas’s favourite phrases upon meeting a new colleague or friend were, “How can I help you with your work?” and “There’s someone you have to meet.” It was these talents of nurturing artists, bringing people together and making things happen that gave Lucas’s work such heart and soul.
Paul Kevin Lucas was born in New York, one of three children to Ann Lucas (nee Hannigan) and Rawley Dean Lucas. He spent his early years in Englewood, New Jersey, where he attended Dwight-Englewood School. He went on to attend Fairleigh Dickinson University, graduating in 1979 with a BA in English.