Lisa D'Amour

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2013

New Orleans, LA and New York, NY

A native of New Orleans, Lisa D’Amour is a playwright and interdisciplinary artist. Her plays have been commissioned and produced by theaters across the country, including The Women’s Project, Playwrights’ Horizons, ArtSpot Productions, Children’s Theater Company, Steppenwolf Theater Company, and the Royal National Theater. Her recent play Detroit, a dark comedy that follows two suburban couples facing economic uncertainty, was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She has received the Steinberg Playwright Award (2011) and the Alpert Award in the Arts (2008). For 15 years, she has been one half of the performance duo PearlDamour known both for large-scale performances that mix theatre and installation such as How to Build a Forest (2011), in which a simulated forest is assembled and disassembled on stage over 8 hours; and more intimate performances such as Bird Eye Blue Print (2007), created for a set of vacant offices in New York’s World Financial Center. PearlDamour is a four-time MAP Fund recipient and a 2009 Creative Capital Awardee. Upcoming PearlDamour projects for 2014-2015 include Lost in the Meadow, a site-specific work in a meadow which the audience experiences via headphones; and Milton, an immersive piece investigating the sky over five U.S. cities and towns named “Milton.”

  • Photo Credit: Zack Smith
  • Detroit (2012)
  • Lisa D'Amour- How To Build A Forest (2011) :
    How To Build A Forest (2011)
  • Photo Credit: Tod Seelie
    Swimming Cities of the Switchback Sea (2008)
  • Photo Credit: Miguel Lopez
    Bird Eye Blue Print (2007)
  • Stanley (2006)
  • Photo Credit: Libby Nevinger
    Nita & Zita (2000)

What are the creative challenges you face as an artist?

For me, the biggest challenge is the parallel quest of striving both for clarity and the great unknown. Part of the artist’s job is to shake up habitual modes of thinking, behaving—to reframe aspects of this world in order to increase the possibility of greater understanding. So, I have to be clear about what I am reaching for, and at the same time admit my complete ignorance as I wander into the dark room and start fumbling around for the light. And maybe it isn’t even a light that I need, maybe there’s some other form in there I don’t know about that will illuminate things. But I need to go in with a clear intention, hoping that I come out with a piece of work that is new—and useful?—to me and to others.