Tanya Berezin

Tanya Berezin (born March 25, 1941) is an American actress, co-founder and an artistic director of Circle Repertory Company in New York City, and educator.[1][2] She has performed on Broadway and Off-Broadway, and has also appeared in a number of films and television series.

Tanya Berezin
Born (1941-03-25) March 25, 1941
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupationactress, teacher, artistic director
Years active1960-present
Known fora founder and an artistic director of Circle Repertory Company

Early life and education

Berezin was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 25, 1941. She attended Boston University College of Fine Arts, where her roommate was Faye Dunaway.[3] In the 1960s she trained with acting teacher, Jim Tuttle, in the Meisner Technique. In 1963, she arrived in New York and began performing.

While performing in summer stock she met and married Rob Thirkield, who introduced her to experimental theaters in New York, including La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club and Caffe Cino. Thirkield also introduced her to two others would play important roles in her life, Marshall W. Mason and Lanford Wilson.[4] She was divorced from Thirkield in 1977, and she married actor Mark Wilson in 1987.[1]

At La Mama in the 1960s she appeared in several plays, including Lanford Wilson's first full-length play, Rimers of Eldrige, which was directed by the author, and also featured Michael Warren Powell; and Spring Play, by William M. Hoffman, which also featured Harvey Keitel; and The Sand Castle, or There is a Tavern in the Town, or Harry can Dance, also by Lanford Wilson, and directed by Marshall Mason.[5][6]

Circle Repertory Company

In 1969, Brezin co-founded the Circle Repertory Company, along with Wilson, Mason, and Thirkield. It began (as the Circle Theater Company) in a loft on Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.[7] Thirkield, an heir to the Thomas Leeming Company (a pharmaceutical company), contributed generously to support Circle Rep until his death in July 1986.[1] The theatre has helped to develop many actors, directors, and playwrights.[8][9] While she was artistic director from 1987 to 1994, the theatre premiered plays written by Craig Lucas, Larry Kramer, Jim Leonard, Paula Vogel, Jon Robin Baitz, and others.[10][1] As artistic director of Circle Rep Berezin produced Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel’s first play, The Baltimore Waltz; Vogel described that experience, and said "I would not exist if it weren't for Tanya Berezin."[11]

Describing the role of an artistic director, she has said,

“An artistic director basically does two things. One is giving careful attention to each project, finding the right director for the play and having some idea of casting...The other part is having the vision to know that someone might be a really exciting playwright four or five years from now and giving him or her the platform now - to invest in someone, to take chances.”[12]

She was devoted to Circle Rep's “Lab” — a protected artistic workshop environment, based on Caffe Cino, where playwrights, actors and directors would experiment and develop.[12] The company moved in 1974 to Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, New York. It began there with a production of Tennessee Williams' first full-length play, Battle of Angels, which starred Berezin. Reviewing that production in The New York Times, Walter Kerr wrote,

"Miss Berezin is a revelation...The apparent contradictions of the role bleed into one another so subtly that you are not quite aware of the moment that this caged soul comes whole; but the whole person comes, ferocious, straight-laced, jealous, grateful...There is scarcely a finer performance in New York just now."[12][13]

Acting career


As an actress she appeared on Broadway, in Master Class written by Terrence McNally, Prelude to a Kiss written by Craig Lucas, Gemini by Albert Innaurato, Knock Knock by Jules Feiffer, The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop, As Is by William M. Hoffman; and in plays by Lanford Wilson including Redwood Curtain, Burn This, Angels Fall, Fifth of July, and Talley's Folly.[14]

Of her performance in Landord Wilson's play Angels Fall, New York magazine said, "Tanya Berezin does a dazzling balancing act with superiority and edginess as the older woman to whom age brings both wisdom and insecurity; her performance is both lancet and whatever poultice there may be."[15]


Her Off-Broadway appearances include Sympathetic Magic, The Mound Builders, Balm in Gilead, Battle of Angels, Serenading Louie, Caligua, The Beaver Coat, Mary Stuart, and other productions.[16][17] Harold Clurman, reviewing Friedrich Schiller’s play Mary Stuart in The Nation said that a special note of praise was due "for Tanya Berezin as Queen Elizabeth, particularly in the moments of her steely calculations, dark resentments and self-determined and regal loneliness," and that her Queen Elizabeth was "depicted with incisive psychological understanding".[18] In 1976, she won an Obie Award for her role in the premier production of Lanford Wilson's play The Mound Builders.[19]

Film and television

She has appeared on television in Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, St. Elsewhere, Spenser: For Hire, The Equalizer, and others. She also appeared in the films Awakenings, A Little Sex, He Said, She Said, and others.[20][21][4][22]

Teaching and coaching

In 1994, Berezin began teaching and coaching actors for theatre, film, and television.[23]


  1. Gerard, Jeremy (August 22, 1987). "Circle Repertory Company Names Tanya Berezin Artistic Director". The New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  2. Bartow, Arthur. The Director's Voice: Twenty-One Interviews. Theatre Communications Group (1993). ISBN 9781559366762. page 196.
  3. Dunaway, Faye. Sharkey, Betsy. Looking for Gatsby. Simon and Schuster (1997). ISBN 9780671675264. page 62.
  4. Vilga, Edward. Acting Now: Conversations on Craft and Career. Rutgers University Press (June 1, 1997). ISBN 978-0813524030. page 25 - 37.
  5. LeSueur, Joseph. “Theatre: Rimers of Eldritch”. Village Voice. July 21, 1966
  6. Smith, Michael. “Theater Journal”. Village Voice. March 30, 1967
  7. Klein, Alvin (July 2, 1989). "East End Envisions An Artistic Alliance". New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  8. Wilmeth, Don B. & Miller, Tice L. editors. The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. Cambridge University Press (1996). ISBN 9780521564441. page 98
  9. Ryzuk, Mary. The Circle Repertory Company: The First Fifteen Years. Iowa State Press (1989) ISBN 978-0813800295.
  10. Weber, Bruce (October 10, 1994). "Circle Repertory Enters Upon Adulthood". The New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  11. Craig, Carolyn Casey. "Paula Vogel's Winding Road to Victory". Women Pulitzer Playwrights: Biographical Profiles and Analyses of the Plays. McFarland publishing, 2004. ISBN 9780786418817. page 219
  12. Harris, William (November 27, 1988). "Tanya Berezin Stages The Future at Circle Rep". The New York Times. Walter Kerr quoted by William Harris. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  13. Bottoms, Stephen, J. Playing Underground: A Critical History of the 1960s Off-off-Broadway Movement. University of Michigan Press (2006). ISBN 9780472031948. page 296 - 299.
  14. "Tanya Berezin – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com.
  15. Simon, John. "Ideals Lost and Found". New York Magazine. February 7, 1983.
  16. Dean, Anne. Discovery and Invention: The Urban Plays of Lanford Wilson. page 23 - 25
  17. "Tanya Berezin - Lortel Archives". iobdb.com.
  18. Clurman,Harold. "Without Classic Tradition; Mary Stuart". The Nation. January 19, 1980
  19. "obies | Search Results". www.villagevoice.com.
  20. Green, Susan. & Dawn, Randee. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Unofficial Companion. BenBella Books, Inc. (2009) ISBN 9781935251880.
  21. Willis, John. editor. Screen World 1992. Hal Leonard Corporation (1993). ISBN 9781557831354. page 23.
  22. Maslin, Janet (April 2, 1982). "A Little Sex Portrays New Manhattan Love Styles". The New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  23. Levy, Frederick. Acting in Young Hollywood. Watson-Guptill Publications, Incorporated, 2009. ISBN 9780823089550. page 46
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