Elizabeth Swados was a force in the New York musical theater scene for over 30 years, beginning with her 1978 breakout hit, Runaways, a musical about runaway teenagers in New York that earned her four Tony nominations. In addition to writing and directing the play, Swados also composed the music and played guitar offstage. Swados’s later works involved publishing novels, nonfiction books, children’s books, and an animated movie for HBO in 2014.
During her 1993 residency, Swados presented her orchestration of Song of Songs, a piece for 20 voices and four musicians based on a book of the Old Testament. Swados and members of her ensemble worked with area musicians for these performances, holding auditions over two days to identify voices with diverse singing experience. Swados also gave a lecture as part of the Museum’s Eye of the Beholder lecture series.
Elizabeth Swados’s works include the Obie Award-winning Trilogy at La MaMa, Alice at the Palace (with Meryl Streep) at the New York Shakespeare Festival, and Groundhog, which was optioned by the film director Milos Forman. Her work has been performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in locations all over the world. In conjunction with Forward Face, Swados released a children’s CD called Everyone is Different that was distributed to 3,000 schools around the country. She published novels, non-fiction books, and children’s books to great acclaim, and received the Ken Award from the National Alliance of Mental Illness, as well as a New York Public Library Award for her book My Depression: A Picture Book. My Depression was released as an animated movie for HBO in 2014. Her many awards include five Tony nominations, three Obie Awards, the Helen Hayes Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, grants from the Ford and Lila Acheson Wallace foundations, and a PEN Citation.