Craig Lucas was born on April 29, 1951, in Atlanta, Georgia, and was abandoned by his birth mother in a car with a note explaining that she could not afford to care for a baby and stating that the baby was related to Admiral Dewey. Eight months later he was adopted by Charles A. Lucas, an FBI agent who worked on the era’s communist scare investigations, and his wife Eleanore (née Altmont), a painter who had converted to Episcopalianism from Judaism. The Lucases eventually settled in the Philadelphia suburbs where Craig grew up. From an early age he was involved in performing, entertaining patients at a children’s hospital at age twelve, participating in drama clubs in school, taking piano and dancing lessons. He attended Boston University (B.F.A., cum laude, 1973), where he studied creative writing with Anne Sexton, who advised him to “make it strange” (“A Gay Life in the Theatre” 26) when writing.
Though he had been accepted into Yale University’s Graduate School of Drama after finishing at Boston, Lucas chose to move to New York and begin working in the theater as a performer, initially in the choruses of Broadway musicals. In 1975 he underwent major cosmetic surgery, radically changing his appearance. In the mid-1970s he appeared on stage in the choruses of Shenandoah, Rex, On the Twentieth Century, and Sweeney Todd.
Lucas’s plays have been produced by many leading companies including the Circle Repertory Company, the Atlantic Theatre Company, the Vineyard Theatre, and Lincoln Center Theatres. Blue Window was awarded the George and Elisabeth Marton Award for playwriting, the Los Angeles Critics Circle Award, and the Drama-Logue Award for best play, all in 1985. Lucas was a Rockefeller Bellagio Fellow in 1988. Prelude to a Kiss was awarded the Obie Award for best new