Paul A. Lavrakas received his first playwriting commission in 1986 from the U.S. National Archives to create theater from documents in their holdings. Based on letters from citizens to their government, the first of these plays, “Dear Uncle Sam,” was produced numerous times at the National Archives. Lavrakas wrote two other documentary plays “Postmark USA” and “Gallant and Lawless Act,” the latter for the Bicentennial Celebration of the U.S. Constitution.
He received his first commission for a play for young audiences from the Birmingham (Alabama) Children’s Theatre to write a new version of “The Princess and the Pea,” later performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.) and scores of theaters nationally. The Chicago Tribune described it as “bursting with intrigue and humor and beautiful language.
Other commissions from the Birmingham Children’s Theatre included “White Sails, Dark Seas”, a historically rigorous telling of Columbus’ voyages, presented at the Kennedy Center in the first New Visions/New Voices Festival, as well “Jack and the Bean Tree”.
Both “The Princess and the Pea” and “White Sails, Dark Seas” won playwriting awards from the American Alliance for Theatre and Education. He has had plays published by Samuel French, Inc. (“Escape from Nemotex”), Dramatic Publishing, and Playscripts, Inc. and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Lavrakas has written five plays/musicals for the Theater for Young Audiences at the Kennedy Center, including the book and lyrics for “Footsteps in the Sky”, a musical based on creation tales, that toured for five seasons. He has received other commissions for plays and libretti over the years, including “Mozart’s Women” for the IN Music Series of George Washington University.
For the U.S. State Department, he wrote and co-produced Fascinating Rhythms, a revue featuring classic show tunes from the 1920s & 30s that toured India, Pakistan and five other Asian countries.
In contrast, for many years Lavrakas was associated with the Paradise Island Express theatre company in Washington, D.C. which produced several of his more experimental works.
In 2016 ASSITEJ France, the French national organization for theater for young audiences, published his plays “The Anti-Clown Revolt” and “The Comet” in French and English.
Lavrakas recently completed the book and lyrics for a musical inspired by the Gustave Flaubert story, “The Legend of Saint Julien.”
His non-theater career has been in Washington, D.C. Lavrakas co-founded the Violence Policy Center, a group dedicated to exploring the causes of gun violence and served as its chairman for 17 years.