About Stephen Foreman
Stephen H. Foreman received his BA in English with minors in German and Philosophy from Morgan State University, 1964, now acclaimed a national heritage as one of our nation’s historic Black colleges, and his MFA in playwriting and dramatic literature from Yale School of Drama, Yale University, 1967. Before Morgan took a chance and graciously accepted him in the Summer of 1962, he had failed out of more schools than he wishes to remember, and then served as a combat engineer in the United States Marine Corps. His military skills, which included building a pontoon bridge under fire, did not transfer to civilian employment. Unless Foreman wanted to drive a taxi or bag groceries at the supermarket, college, finally, seemed to be the solution. He graduated Morgan Magna Cum Laude then worked as an Emergency Care worker with seriously abused children for the Baltimore City Department of Public Welfare. The decision to leave was probably the most difficult he ever made - it remains the most satisfying job he ever had -, but Yale was a powerful magnet pulling him north to New Haven. Both college experiences - Morgan and Yale - changed his life in extraordinary ways.
While at Yale he had the good fortune to be mentored by the poet, Robert Lowell, who recommended that Slum Song, a play for voices, be produced by Robert Hooks at the Negro Ensemble Theatre. After Yale Foreman worked as a stage manager doing dozens of musicals and dramatic plays. This era of his life culminated in his hire as Edward Albee’s stage manager when he took “BOX-MAO-BOX’, directed by Alan Schneider, to the Festival of Two Worlds, Spoleto, Italy, 1968. While at Spoleto Foreman also staged managed a number of other plays including “The Indian Wants The Bronx” by Israel Horovitz starring Al Pacino and John Cazale, “It’s Called The Sugarplum” starring Pacino and Jill Claiburgh, and “The Trojan Women” starring Irene Pappas. One of Foreman’s most memorable experiences in Spoleto was getting tipsy at a party given by Gian Carlo Menotti in his palazzo where he opened a door and walked into the closet.
The next period of Foreman’s life was primarily an academic one. He taught at West Virginia University for two years, 1968-1970, where his contract was not renewed for, among other things, casting a Black co-ed as Sarah Brown against a caucasian Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls”. While at WVU his first professional theatrical productions took place in Los Angeles and New York. “The Reliquary of Mr. and Mrs. Potterfield”, at the Chelsea Theatre Center, garnered two Obies for each of its actors. He was then hired by the University of Connecticut, 1970-1974, where he was offered tenure the same semester, same month he was offered a three picture deal from Universal Studios. Foreman took his ticket, went west, and never looked back. His credits include “The Jazz Singer” starring Neal Diamond and Sir Lawrence Olivier, and “Hostage” starring Carol Burnett and Annette Benning plus a bunch of others for which he didn’t get credit, as is the way of the world in Hollywood. While still at UConn Foreman’s first national television drama, “The Resolution of Mossie Wax”, was produced on PBS. A documentary, “America the Beautiful”, about the wilderness areas in our country and the people working to preserve them, was produced on ABC-TV. President George H, W. Bush was the impetus behind it, and Foreman worked with him in the White House writing his dialogue. Headline: He never changed one word.
Foreman first consciously realized he was a writer at the age of seventeen. That year three things happened: he read Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road”, listened to Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue”, and had his heart broken for the first time. An awful poem in the style of Beat poetry came out ot it, awful, oh, yeah, but it got him reading on the coffeehouse circuit from Washington, D.C. to New York City.
His tenure at Morgan solidified his belief in himself as a writer. There his first play was produced and taken to New York City, and it was this play that got him into Yale. It, too, was awful, but there you go. Foreman believes with all his heart that his years at Morgan gave him the strength, knowledge, and ability to carry on.
As a young writer Foreman realized he did not want to write about growing up Jewish in Baltimore, Maryland (Philip Roth had already taken on that subject in New York), and he didn’t have anything else to write about. Thus began a series of great adventures that had him trekking across the Alaskan wilderness, bushwhacking through tropical rainforests, whaling with the last three aboriginal whalers in the Grenadines on their final season, roaming the mountains of the Bitterroot Valley in Montana, hanging out in professional boxing gyms like Gleason’s in New York and Wild Card in Los Angeles, spending a year as an ex pat writing in Florence, Italy, bringing two beautiful, beloved adopted babies home from Medellin, Colombia, and hunting for gold mines in the Superstition Mountains of Apache Junction, Arizona. At this point in his life, he still hasn’t run out of things to write about and does not expect he ever will.
In the mid-80’s before the children, Foreman, his wife, Jamie Donnelly, and two dear friends, the sisters Brooke and Lynne Adams, created GreenPlays, a theatre in a barn devoted to new plays sponsored by actors. Something like forty actors lived and ate in our house which still had thirteen bedrooms from the time it was a hunting lodge. (We’ve since remodeled.) GreenPlays ran for two summers, was a wonderful experience and an exhilarating success.
Aside from stage and screen credits, Foreman now has three novels: “Toehold” which takes place in contemporary Alaska, “Watching Gideon”, a father-son story set in the canyonlands of Utah, 1953, and, “Journey”, set in pre-Civil War New Mexico, due out Spring, 2017. A true story from the Montana days - “The Bear That Drank My Neighbor’s Beer” - was published (August, 2016) in an anthology called, “When Bears Attack: Close Encounters of the Terrifying Kind”.
Foreman now lives and writes in the Spruceton Valley of the northern Catskill Mountains with his wife and partner of 38 years, the actress, Jamie Donnelly. His office, cluttered with keepsakes and chotzkies - fossils, minerals, a hornet’s nest, an Apache tomahawk, petrified wood, and a Masai sword are but a sample - resembles the contents of the pockets of a ten year old farmboy.