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Wilborn Hampton
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After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin, Hampton was hired as a reporter for United Press International in Dallas. To satisfy his abiding love of the theater, he also worked in his spare time at Theatre Three, acting in several productions and writing adaptations for that company’s children’s Saturday matinee series. After working at U.P.I. for only two months, Hampton was suddenly thrust into helping cover one of the biggest news stories of the time – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Being in the very whirlwind of history was a life-changing experience for him and his fledgling acting career took a back seat to his new goal of becoming a foreign correspondent.
Two years later, Hampton was transferred to the New York headquarters of U.P.I., and later was posted to London, where he covered the outbreak of sectarian strife in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the entry of British troops there. After two years in London, he was assigned to Rome, where he spent five years, first as correspondent then as bureau chief. From Rome, he traveled frequently to the Middle East and covered three wars in that turbulent region. As a news agency reporter, he covered many different kinds of stories – diplomatic conferences, sporting events, riots, hijackings, wars, and, being based in Rome, the Vatican. After several years as a foreign correspondent, Hampton returned to New York as an editor, going out only occasionally on big stories. One of the last major stories he covered as a reporter was the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. Shortly after that, Hampton was hired by The New York Times as an editor on the paper’s foreign news desk. For the next 26 years, he worked as an editor at The Times – on the foreign desk, in the paper’s Book Review section and on the Culture News desk. During his time in that last job, he was able to return to his first love of the theater, and he began to write occasional drama reviews for the paper. Even after leaving its full-time employ, Hampton continued to write theater reviews for The Times on a free-lance basis.
About the same time, Hampton began writing Young Adult nonfiction books about some of the stories he covered as a journalist, starting with the Kennedy assassination. Since then Hampton has published three more Young Adult books on contemporary history – the meltdown at Three Mile Island, the wars in the Middle East, and the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2001, as well as YA biographies of Elvis Presley and Babe Ruth and an adult trade biography of the playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote.

Entries by Wilborn Hampton

'My Mañana Comes': Trouble in the Kitchen

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 10:17 AM

The plight of the struggling class, bypassed entirely by the slow economic recovery, and the inequities of our immigration laws come into sharp focus in Elizabeth Irwin's timely and ultimately provocative new play My Mañana Comes at Playwrights Realm.

The scene is the kitchen of an Upper East Side...

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'This Is Our Youth': Lonergan's Lost Kids in Lonely Anguish

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 11:38 AM

Early in Kenneth Lonergan's smart, funny, and poignant This Is Our Youth, now in a riveting and rowdy revival at Broadway's Cort Theater, Warren Straub confesses to his childhood friend and pot dealer Dennis Ziegler: "I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go." It could be...

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"The Wayside Motor Inn": A Drama for 10 Voices by Gurney

(0) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 2:17 PM

The travelers who check in at The Wayside Motor Inn, A.R. Gurney's engrossing 1977 play, now in an absorbing revival at Signature Theater, are a disparate band, all looking for love in one way or another, but maybe in the wrong place to find it.

Inspired by Longfellow's epic The...

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"The City of Conversation": What's The Price Of Politics?

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 2:10 PM

What is the personal price of political change? In what coin is it paid? And when does it become too expensive? These are the questions that confront Hester Ferris in The City of Conversation, an ultimately evocative and absorbing new play by Anthony Giardina that you will talk about long...

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"Annapurna": Offerman and Mullally Renew an Old Fight

(0) Comments | Posted April 23, 2014 | 11:11 AM

The trailer the cowboy-poet Ulysses calls home in Sharr White's play Annapurna looks like it was picked up by a tornado in Nebraska, tossed around for a few hundred miles, and dropped in some crevice in the Colorado Rockies. It is not a place you would want to sit down...

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Met Opera: DiDonato and Camarena Are a Fairy-Tale Couple in Rossini's "La Cenerentola"

(1) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 2:01 PM

There are few operas that can be quite as much fun as La Cenerentola, Rossini's delightful version of the Cinderella story, and there are few mistreated stepdaughters and Prince Charmings who make such a perfect couple as Joyce DiDonato and Javier Camarena, each of whom brought a first-night audience at...

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'The Cripple of Inishmaan:' Daniel Radcliffe Stares at Cows

(0) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 11:26 AM

Life is full of surprises. Little surprises. And not so little surprises. Even on Inishmaan, where Cripple Billy spends his days staring at cows and the biggest news involves the fate of farm animals, Life can suddenly rear up and beat the bejesus out of you or barge through the...

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Met Opera: Olga Peretyatko Shines in Bellini's 'I Puritani'

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 12:55 PM

The Metropolitan Opera returned its vintage production of Bellini's I Puritani to the stage last night and the fast-rising Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko wowed the first-night audience in an auspicious Met debut as Elvira, the daughter of a Puritan leader driven mad by her love for a Royalist supporter during...

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'Bullets Over Broadway': Allen and Stroman Hit the Bull's-Eye

(1) Comments | Posted April 11, 2014 | 8:40 AM

If you liked the movie, you're going to love the musical. Woody Allen and Susan Stroman have transformed Bullets Over Broadway into a hit show (pun intended) that opens with a bang and ends with a bang and has a lot of bangs in between.

This Bullets is an...

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'The Realistic Joneses': Welcome to Will Eno's Neighborhood

(0) Comments | Posted April 7, 2014 | 1:26 PM

The first thing you should know about The Realistic Joneses is that none of the four characters in Will Eno's play have much more than a nodding acquaintance with reality. The second is that it is quite funny and you'll probably enjoy meeting these Joneses so long as you don't...

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Met Opera: 'Arabella' Returns With Six Bright New Voices

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 12:49 PM

Only Strauss could pack quite so much Sturm und Drang into a romantic comedy as he did in Arabella. But the Met's lovely period production, which it revived last night with a total of six house debuts, finds both the romance and the comedy amid the tumult, and the soprano...

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"Mothers and Sons": McNally's Report Card On Gay Life

(1) Comments | Posted March 27, 2014 | 1:06 PM

Of all the social advances over the last 30 years, few if any has been more dramatic than the widespread acceptance of gay and lesbian people into mainstream American life. Terrance McNally's wrenching yet poignant play Mothers and Sons is a survey of that achievement measured through the eyes of...

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Met Opera: Damrau and Camarena Turn 'La Sonnambula' Into a Dream

(0) Comments | Posted March 16, 2014 | 4:02 AM

It's not all that often the soprano turns cartwheels after a show, no matter how great it has been. But in the finale of the Met Opera's smashing revival of Bellini's La Sonnambula Diana Damrau kicks up her heels in a Swiss folk dance and performs three of those gymnastic...

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All the Way: Bryan Cranston Shows How LBJ Passed the Civil Rights Act

(0) Comments | Posted March 13, 2014 | 12:19 PM

Five days after the assassination of President Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson went before a joint session of Congress and to the surprise of almost everyone proclaimed that his first priority would be passage of a civil rights bill. All the Way, a riveting new play by Robert Schenkkan with a mesmerizing...

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"Ode to Joy": Craig Lucas's Search for Truth in the Bottom of a Bottle

(0) Comments | Posted February 28, 2014 | 1:14 PM

"Truth is hard," Adele exclaims to a woman who came to buy one of her paintings and ends up her lover in Craig Lucas's powerful new play Ode to Joy. It can also be agonizing and devastating and it will take Adele 15 years of havoc and heartache to discover...

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Met Opera: A Fresh Look at Doomed Love in Massenet's "Werther"

(0) Comments | Posted February 26, 2014 | 10:15 AM

The love that burns with the brightest flame is often a love that is fated to fail, and the passion Massenet kindled in his opera Werther is about as doomed as any love can be, as Richard Eyre's dramatic new production at the Metropolitan Opera makes abundantly clear from the...

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Met Opera: A Stunning Revisionist Staging of Borodin's Prince Igor

(0) Comments | Posted February 16, 2014 | 10:29 AM

In a winter dominated by headlines from the Olympics in Russia and nonstop snowstorms in New York, the Metropolitan Opera is offering its own tribute to Russian heritage and a refuge from the weather with a lavish and captivating new production of Borodin's Prince Igor, the Met's first staging of...

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Outside Mullingar: John Patrick Shanley Discovers Ireland

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 8:10 AM

John Patrick Shanley has finally gotten in touch with his Irish roots and the result is a delightfully funny, touching, and thoroughly enjoyable play titled Outside Mullingar that deals with life, love, and the land in the Irish Midlands.

Beautifully acted by a splendid cast led by Brian F....

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Met Opera: Renee Fleming Melts Hearts Anew in 'Rusalka'

(3) Comments | Posted January 24, 2014 | 1:41 PM

It is the mark of a true diva to be able to turn any part she undertakes into an interpretation by which all others will be compared. Renee Fleming owns just about every role she has ever sung -- Desdemona in Otello and the Marschallin in Rosenkavalier spring immediately to...

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"The Night Alive": McPherson's Ray of Hope in a Bleak Landscape

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2013 | 1:17 PM

The kindness of strangers can be complicated, a mixed blessing not without its drawbacks and with the rewards often arriving late, if at all, as Conor McPherson so beautifully illustrates in The Night Alive, his funny, occasionally frightening, but ultimately poignant new play at the Atlantic Theater Company.

At...

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