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Thursday, November 30, 2023

John Pinckard, alumnus of the UF School of Theatre and Dance, helped produce “Clybourne Park.” The play won a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for drama and took home “Best Play” at the Tony Awards Sunday night.

“Clybourne Park” is loosely based on historical events and is inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” According to the Los Angeles Times, it is “a sharp-toothed satirical drama about the vagaries of race and real estate.”

Pinckard graduated from UF in 1998 and is now part of JTG Theatricals, a New York production company. The company is made up of three producers.

The UF College of Fine Arts and the UF Alumni Association selected Pinckard for the 2009 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Nick Erkelens, a senior in the acting program of the UF School of Theatre and Dance, got a chance to meet Pinckard during the Spring semester.

Pinckard was invited to Gainesville by Florida Players, a student-run theater company that allows students to showcase their work. Florida Players is sponsored by Student Government.

Florida Players invited Pinckard down from New York to teach a master class. Master classes provide opportunities for students to meet professionals and have their work critiqued. The guests also give speeches about their experience in the field.

Erkelens said Pinckard was originally in school for lighting design before he switched to production. He was working on “Clybourne Park” when he came to Gainesville for the class.

Erkelens said Pinckard explained that he was willing to support anyone pursuing a craft in theater — whether it be set design, production or acting.

“He was super down to earth,” Erkelens said. “He gave us his card and said we should contact him if we travel to New York. He was really interested in having a Gator community up there.”

Pinkard has no plans to slow down after “Clyboune Park.” He is currently committed to eight plays for the next three to five seasons as well as two feature films.

“Tales of the City” has music by the Scissor Sisters, and is based on Armistead Maupin's book of the same title. Pinckard is also working on Hal Prince's autobiographical jukebox musical called "The Prince of Broadway," directed by Prince himself and will feature music from many of his hit shows.

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Hal Prince, is known for his direction and production of plays such as “West Side Story,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“He is the Steven Spielberg of Broadway,” Pinckard said. “He took an interest in my producing career and is my mentor.”

For Pinckard the transition to success wasn’t immediate, and he, like others, spent time as a struggling artist in New York.

“It’s kind of like losing weight, you don’t notice day by day, you notice incremental changes respectively,” he said. “It’s kind of like that David Bryne song. ‘This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife, how did I get here?’”

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