Megan Terry

July 22, 1932 — April 12, 2023

“Uncommon” describes the late American playwright Megan Terry.

As a young woman she became a leading feminist and experimental theater light in 1960s New York. At the height of her fame and powers there, she left for love and creative freedom in Nebraska, where her life and artistic partner, Jo Ann Schmidman, founded the Omaha Magic Theatre. They made OMT a home for their own and others’ avant-garde work. They toured select OMT productions across Nebraska, the greater Midwest, nationally and internationally.

Megan Terry (right) and Jo Ann Schmidman with their beloved dogs.

Born in Seattle during the Great Depression, Terry heeded an early call to the stage that took her to Canada and New York. Her “Viet Rock” is credited as the first rock musical and popular artwork dealing with the Vietnam War. Her “Approaching Simone” off-Broadway won an Obie. Rockefeller and National Endowment for the Arts funding helped her build a career as a theater practitioner and educator.

“Megan Terry’s life as she lived it and her legacy are a force of light and energy,” Schmidman said. “Her discoveries using transformations of person, location, situation and language changed the American theater and all of the arts. Her more than 50 published works for the stage are published singly and in prestigious drama anthologies, studied by high school and college students worldwide.”

Omaha theater director-educator Amy (Harmon) Lane is among many artists who got their start at OMT under the watchful gaze, nurturing guidance and uncompromising spirit of Terry. “Megan was fierce, supportive, fearless,” Lane said. “She fostered my love for experimental, groundbreaking art. Omaha theater owes her a great debt.”

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