Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Lawrence, Washington County
Thomas was involved in the entertainment world as an actor and director but mostly as a writer of plays, movie scripts, and TV scripts.
Washington County native Thom Thomas devoted himself to the theatre from his early days at the Pittsburgh Playhouse School of Theatre, through his tenure at Point Park College, to his life in New York City. Along the way, he had been given a number of grants.
Thomas Neil Thomas was born in Lawrence, Pennsylvania, on August 31, 1935. His parents were John Edward Thomas, a coal miner, and Ruby Jukes Thomas.
Thomas attended the Pittsburgh Playhouse School of Theatre from 1958 to 1960. He then attended Carnegie Mellon University where he received his BFAin 1966. Later that year he became an associate professor of theatre at Point Park College in Pittsburgh until 1974 when he became the head of the department until 1977. While he was a student, Thomas also worked as an artistic director of Rabbit Run Summer Theatre in Madison, Ohio in 1965. After graduation, in addition to being a professor, Thomas worked as the artistic director of Pittsburgh Playhouse from 1966 to 1972, artistic director of Odd Chair Playhouse in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania from 1967 to 1974, and artistic director of Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera in 1972.
Thomas's first major work was The Interview (1976), a two-act play which concerns the tug-of-war between a journalist and his reclusive subject during an interview. The journalist, anticipating fame upon publication of his exclusive interview, eagerly attempts to delve into the famous writer's life, creating a mood of menace from which the only possible release is violence. It was first produced at Pittsburgh Playhouse in January 1976. It was later produced Off-Broadway at Direct Theatre in 1981. While Thomas had worked as an actor, stage manager, artistic director, and head of a college drama department, writing was still his greatest passion.
Thomas earned many awards for his talents. He won the 1964—65 Music Corporation of America fellowship. In 1969, he earned a grant from Ford Foundation. In 1975, he won a Shubert Fellowship. He earned another grant in 1978 from National Endowment for the Arts.
One of his more recent plays is A Moon To DanceBy, a romantic, poignant drama set in New Mexico just two months before the start of World War II. Based on actual events, the play explores the relationship between Frieda Weekley and her grown son Monty. Frieda's passionate affair with D.H. Lawrence led her to leave her husband and children in England. Years later, after Lawrence's death, Frieda lives near Taos, New Mexico, with her Italian lover, Angelo. When Monty comes to visit, mother and son see each other for the first time in 30 years and grapple with their needs for atonement and self-discovery. It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009.
Thomas died after a short fight with leukemia in 2015. He was 80 years old.
The Interview. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Playhouse, 1976.
Approaching Zero. New York: LaMaMa Experimental Theater Club, 1978.
The Ball Game. London: Open Space Theater, 1978.
A Moon to Dance By. New Harmony Theatre, Evansville, IN, 2004.
New Harmony Theatre prepares for world premiere next summer; holds reading of new play on Broadway. New Harmony Theatre. 13 May 2004. 16 June 2005. <http://www.usi.edu/nht/news.asp>. Web address inactive.
Thom Thomas. The Gale Literary Database: Contemporary Authors. 26 June 2006. 29 Nov. 2011.