TOM STOPPARD (Playwright) was born in 1937 in the former Czechoslovakia as Tomás Straüssler. After quitting school at 17, Stoppard began his career as a writer when he found employment as a journalist in 1954 at the Western Daily Press and then as a drama critic at the Bristol Evening. By 1960 Stoppard had written his first full length play, A Walk on the Water, which received a televised broadcast in 1963. In 1964, on a writers’ retreat, Stoppard wrote the one-act play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Meet King Lear which later evolved into Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. A hit at the 1966 Edinburgh Fringe, the play drew the attention of Kenneth Tynan at the brand new National Theatre, where it was subsequently produced to critical acclaim, and the Broadway version won Stoppard his first Tony in 1968 for Best New Play. Stoppard added another Tony for Best New Play in 1976 for Travesties and he has subsequently won for The Real Thing (1984) and Coast of Utopia (2007). Other theatre works include: Jumpers (1972), Night and Day (1978), Arcadia (1993), Indian Ink (1995), The Invention of Love (2001), Rock ‘n’ Roll (2006), and The Hard Problem (2015). He is the acknowledged master of what has been termed “serious comedies,” sparklingly witty plays that deal with large, complex ideas. Stoppard’s extensive list of works spans multiple decades and media, including radio, television, film, and even a novel, making him one of the most internationally produced artists of his generation. His critically acclaimed career has garnered him many awards and honors, including an Academy Award for Best Screenplay in 1999 for Shakespeare in Love, co-written with Marc Norman, and a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 1997. Stoppard currently lives with his third wife in London. 

LUIGI PIRANDELLO (Playwright) (1867-1936) was a Sicilian playwright, poet, and novelist. Born to a wealthy industrialist in Sicily, Pirandello eschewed the family business in sulfur mining and left to study philology and begin teaching. Pirandello's literary output was prolific, publishing essays including L'Umorismo (1908), novellas, seven volumes of poetry, fifteen volumes of short stories, and several acclaimed novels, including The Turn (1902), The Late Mattia Pascal (1904), The Old and the Young (1908), Shoot! The Notebooks of Sarafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator (1919), and One, No One and One Hundred Thousand (1926). His plays Right You Are (If You Think You Are) (1917), Rules Of The Game (1918), Six Characters In Search Of An Author (1921), Henry IV (1922), Clothing The Naked (1922), Each In His Own Way (1924), and Tonight We Improvise (1930) solidified his legacy as one of Italy's most influential artists. In 1925 he became the Artistic Director of Teatro d’Arte di Roma. He spent the later years of his life travelling extensively and died in 1939 in Rome. His work lives on in the tradition of absurdist theatre and playwrights like Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, and Edward Albee.