Emmanuel S. Nelson
Doric Wilson was born on February 24, 1939, in Los Angeles while his parents were there on a short visit from their home in Seattle. In 1942 Wilson’s father, an engineer, joined the army but died the night before he was to leave for the African front. His mother, unable to care for him while working full-time, sent him to his grandfather’s ranch in Plymouth, Washington. A few years later he joined his mother in Kennewick, a town about thirty miles from Plymouth, where she had found employment.
His interest in theater began early. He recalls acting in a school play shortly after he was enrolled in the first grade. At home he staged short skits in the barn; his cousins, at his insistence, became actors in those productions, and they charged visitors a penny each for admission. While still in high school he apprenticed with the Richard Players (Washington) and wrote a play for his English teacher who dismissed it as a product of plagiarism. After he graduated from Kennewick High School in 1958, Wilson moved to Seattle. For a year he studied there in the Drama Department of the University of Washington.
Wilson moved to New York City in 1959 and began to hone his skills in writing, acting, set as well as costume designing, directing, and producing. Soon he became a central figure in the emerging off-off-Broadway movement. He was involved in the production of dozens of plays; some were new works by aspiring playwrights, and others were revivals of classics. He became a founding member of the Circle Repertory Theater as well as the Barr/Wilder/Albee* Playwright’s Unit. Central to Wilson’s development as a dramatist was his early involvement with Caffe Cino. Established by Joseph Cino in 1958, it was a coffee house on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village that also served as an experimental theatrical