Spotlight: Hollywood’s Busiest Playwright Luke Yankee

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Playwright & Bestselling Author Luke Yankee

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In his bestselling and critically acclaimed memoir, “Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up with Eileen Heckart”, director, author, actor, screenwriter, and playwright Luke Yankee gives a no-holds-barred view of what growing up as the son of an Oscar®, Emmy® (2), Golden Globe®, and Tony® winning actress was like.  The book is funny, candid, heartwarming and truly a “must read”. What is most inspiring is just how much mother and son respect and adore each other.

Recently, renowned performing arts critic Michael Musto placed “Just Outside the Spotlight” on his list of the Ten (10) Best Celebrity Memoirs, praising the book as “One of the most compassionate, illuminating showbiz books ever written.” The book is currently available electronically on Amazon for Kindle and in hardback. Hopefully, a publisher will have the good sense to release a mass market paperback edition soon.

Artistic talent clearly runs in the family. Luke’s recent play, “The Last Lifeboat” (dealing with the aftermath of the sinking of The Titanic) is published by Dramatists Play Service and has had more than 20 productions around the U.S. and Canada in the past year and a half.  The Canadian production recently won twelve (12) awards at two different theatre festivals in British Columbia, including Best Production, Best Ensemble, and Best Direction.

The screenplay adaptation of “The Last Lifeboat” was completed while Luke attended the prestigious DreamAgo screenwriter’s workshop in the Swiss Alps.  Yankee was one of ten (10) writers chosen internationally to participate in a series of week-long workshops (conducted in English, French and Spanish) where his mentors included Carl Gottlieb, the award winning screenwriter for “Jaws”.

Luke’s first play, “A Place at Forest Lawn” (also published by Dramatists Play Service) has been produced at several regional theaters around the country. The recipient of the New Noises Award as well as the Palm Springs International Playwriting Festival, it was developed in workshops in New York and Los Angeles featuring Betty White, Marion Ross, Tony Goldwyn, Marcia Cross, Barbara Rush, Pat Carroll, Frances Sternhagen, John Glover and Millicent Martin. His second play, “The Jesus Hickey” was produced in Los Angeles, starring Harry Hamlin.

In September, Luke contributed the introduction to Paul Zindel’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” for the Dramatists Play Service 80th anniversary boxed set edition, featuring one play from each decade. His mother starred in the original PBS production of the play.

His new play, “The Man Who Killed the Cure” (dealing with the corruption the healthcare industry) will have its first full production in Southern California in February.

Luke is currently back in the director’s chair, directing Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies’ comedy “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment” from now until November 6th at International City Theatre, an Equity theatre in Long Beach. The reviews by both critics and audiences have been stellar.

If that wasn’t keeping him busy enough, Luke’s original television pilot, “The Lavender Mafia” (about the emergence of the gay, “power elite” in 1950’s Hollywood) is currently gathering tremendous interest from producers and networks all over Hollywood. Paging Ryan Murphy-

In addition, Mr. Yankee has taught and guest directed extensively at colleges, universities and conservatories throughout the U.S. and abroad. A graduate of New York University, Luke also studied at the Juilliard School of Drama, Circle in the Square, and Northwestern. This December (2016), he will graduate with an MFA in Writing for the Performing Arts from UC Riverside. (Shipwrecked! An Entertainment Tickets)

*Image courtesy of Yankee Hill Productions