( 1960- )
Born in New York City, Phyllis attended New York University Tisch School of the Arts in Dramatic Writing where she received her BFA with honors. She studied primarily with Len Jenkins. Nagy also minored in music theory and composition. In 1992 she moved to London where she now makes her home and writes for film, television, and radio as well as the theatre. Phyllis completed a feature-length film script, The Night They Buried Judy Garland, for BBC television and a one-hour teleplay, Bait and Switch, under commission. She has been playwright in residence at the Royal Court Theatre since 1974.
Nagy's plays, often set in exotic environments, are highly atmospheric and theatrical and deal with characters who live at the fringes of society and whose behavior is frequently violent. The lyrical, at times ambiguous, language in the early plays has given way to a more direct dialogue in her current work. Sound plays an important role in the production of her plays. Plaza Delores, a surreal play that begins in the late 1980s, is set in a hotel in an indeterminate location, where three women and a young Marine live. Bright Eyes, a middle-aged poet, drifter, and ex-con, enters and marries the older Cibella while trying to seduce her daughter, Lola. He kills Lola while hitting her; however, her boyfriend, the Marine, is framed for the murder and subsequently hangs himself. The play closes with Lola singing triumphantly about being taken where she belongs, to the "valley of tears." The play, told in a series of nonchronological short scenes, is characterized by the mysterious behavior of its characters and rich symbolism.
In Butterfly Kiss, also from the 1980s, Lily murders her mother, and Martha,