Medoff, Mark: Children of a Lesser God Playwright Dies at 79

Mark Medoff, the playwright who wrote Tony Award-winning play Children of a Lesser God, died Tuesday in Las Cruces, N.M. He was 79.

His daughter Jessica Medoff Bunchman posted news of his death on Facebook, and the cause was cancer.

Children of a Lesser God starred John Rubinstein and Phyllis Frelich in the original 1980 Broadway production, though the play was first staged at New Mexico State and then in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum.

The pair played a deaf woman and a speech therapist at a state school for the deaf who try to build a relationship despite difficulties in understanding each other’s perspectives.

Medoff, who wrote more than 30 plays, penned Children of a Lesser God after speaking with the deaf Frelich, who explained the lack of substantive roles for deaf actors on stage. She and husband Robert Steinberg advised Medoff while he worked on the play.