iOS app Android app

Wilborn Hampton
GET UPDATES FROM Wilborn Hampton
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

'Mercury Fur': Philip Ridley's Butterfly-Plagued Dystopia of the Future

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2015 | 11:01 AM

Entering the theater for a performance of Philip Ridley's Mercury Fur one might assume the play takes place in some desolated village along the Syrian-Iraqi border. The set the audience encounters looks like an apartment that has taken a direct hit from a drone strike.

It is not long after...

Read Post

John: Annie Baker's Romantic Weekend in Gettysburg

(0) Comments | Posted August 11, 2015 | 10:41 AM

Annie Baker has a delightfully inventive mind. This can be a major asset for a young playwright, but it can also lead to eccentricity becoming an end in itself. In John, her new play that opens the Signature Theater's new season, there is an abundance of ideas kicking around --...

Read Post

Met Opera: Verdi's 'Ballo In Maschera' Beautifully Sung And Played

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2015 | 1:16 PM

Verdi was no stranger to forbidden love and he captured all its passion and anguish in Un Ballo in Maschera, which the Metropolitan Opera returned to the stage last night with a top-flight cast led by Piotr Beczala and Sondra Radvanovsky and with James Levine in the pit for a...

Read Post

Met Opera: A Stunning New 'Cav/Pag' With Alvarez Shining in Both

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 6:20 PM

Scorned love can have dire consequences, and when it involves adultery, it can lead to jealous rage and violent death. The Met Opera's striking new production of the twin-bill of Cavelleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, with the tenor Marcelo Alvarez singing the dual roles of cuckolder in the first and cuckold...

Read Post

'Skylight': Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan Renew Old Lovers' Quarrels

(1) Comments | Posted April 12, 2015 | 5:30 PM

Breaking up may be hard to do, but getting back together is near impossible, though Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan give it a game try with searing performances in a spirited and caustic revival of Skylight, David Hare's one-night stand of lovers' recriminations.

At the time of the play, the...

Read Post

'Wolf Hall': Mantel's Cromwell and Henry VIII Rewrite History

(4) Comments | Posted April 10, 2015 | 12:33 PM

If the 21st century seems fraught with peril over religious zealotry, the 16th century was no less so. In Wolf Hall, an engrossing two-part stage adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novels on the life of Thomas Cromwell and the reign of King Henry VIII, a turning point in history is vividly...

Read Post

Met Opera: Shagimuratova Goes Brilliantly Mad In 'Lucia di Lammermoor'

(2) Comments | Posted March 17, 2015 | 2:10 PM

Donizetti may be one of the best things to happen to Sir Walter Scott. And with the return of Lucia di Lammermoor to the Met Opera stage last night, Albina Shagimuratova is one of the best things now going for Donizetti.

The Russian soprano captivated a...

Read Post

Met Opera: Damrau and Grigolo Juggle Love and Money in Massenet's 'Manon'

(1) Comments | Posted March 10, 2015 | 3:32 PM

The story of Manon Lescaut is the classic saga of a young woman torn between love and money. It has inspired several operas and the Met returned its production of Massenet's lovely and popular Manon to the stage last night with a sterling cast led by Diana Damrau in the...

Read Post

'The Audience': Long Live Helen Mirren

(0) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 12:19 PM

In an episode of Prime Suspect, the gripping 1991 TV crime series, the remarkable Helen Mirren, playing DCI Jane Tennison, snaps at a detective who addresses her with the deference due her rank: "Don't call me Ma'am. I'm not the bloody queen." Well, she certainly fooled me.

In a...

Read Post

Met Opera: 'Hoffmann' Redux Via Levine and Polenzani

(0) Comments | Posted March 6, 2015 | 2:40 PM

As always with James Levine in the pit, a night at the opera is something special, and the Metropolitan Opera's second round of performances of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann with a new cast led by the tenor Matthew Polenzani is no exception.

When the Met returned Offenbach's last opera...

Read Post

Met Opera: DiDonato Soars in Rossini's "La Donna del Lago"

(0) Comments | Posted February 17, 2015 | 1:57 PM

It is always a special occasion when the Metropolitan Opera stages a premiere and its first production of Rossini's melodious and stirring La Donna del Lago boasts the exquisite Joyce DiDonato in the title role and Juan Diego Florez as the Scottish king who is captivated by her.

DiDonato,...

Read Post

Met Opera: Love and Obsession in 'Iolanta' and 'Bluebeard's Castle'

(1) Comments | Posted January 30, 2015 | 12:10 PM

At first thought, the heroines of Tchaikovsky's Iolanta and Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle wouldn't seem to have a lot in common. But as the Metropolitan Opera's snow-delayed opening of those two seemingly disparate one-acts showed, both are simply looking for love in a couple of very unlikely places, especially in the...

Read Post

Met Opera: "Hoffmann's" Tales Fabulously Staged With a Sterling Cast

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 3:42 PM

Everybody has at least one love affair he or she would like to forget. Hoffmann, the hapless poet hero of Les Contes d'Hoffmann, has four that haunt him in Offenbach's grand final opera, which the Met returned to the stage last night with the Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo brilliantly singing...

Read Post

Met Opera: A New 'Merry Widow' With Renee Fleming In Widow's Weeds

(0) Comments | Posted January 1, 2015 | 3:52 PM

It is hard to imagine a merrier widow than Renee Fleming, and she swirls through the Metropolitan Opera's sumptuous new production of Franz Lehar's popular operetta The Merry Widow with the ease of a woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it.

Joined by Kelli O'Hara,...

Read Post

Met Opera: A Masterful "Die Meistersinger" With Levine As Masterconductor

(2) Comments | Posted December 3, 2014 | 2:36 PM

The world of grand opera is generally not known for its comedies, and few are quite as grand, funny or poignant as the Metropolitan Opera's magnificent production of Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg, which returned to the house last night with James Levine in the pit to draw out every nuance...

Read Post

'A Particle of Dread': Shepard's Oedipus At Cucamonga

(1) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 12:58 PM

The perils of parenthood are myriad and have been the subject of countless tragedies and comedies in the theater for over 2,500 years. Sam Shepard has explored the theme often, but rarely with such grim and cryptic result as in A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations), which opened last night...

Read Post

Met Opera: A Fun-Filled "Barbiere di Siviglia" With Leonard and Maltman

(1) Comments | Posted November 19, 2014 | 11:19 AM

Few operas can provide an evening of such pure delight as Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and few productions of Rossini's comic gem are as much fun as the one now on the boards at the Metropolitan Opera, with a smashing Isabel Leonard as Rosina and a solid Christopher Maltman as...

Read Post

"Sticks and Bones": The Way We Were During Vietnam Via Rabe

(0) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 1:23 PM

The rage that polarized the country over the Vietnam War now, decades later, often seems a distant memory. A gripping revival of David Rabe's Sticks and Bones, led by excellent performances from Bill Pullman and Holly Hunter, jolts those passions back to life.

Under the smart direction of Scott...

Read Post

"The Real Thing": Stoppard's Love Play With McGregor and Gyllenhaal

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2014 | 11:11 AM

The course of true love never did run smooth, as one of Tom Stoppard's favorite writers once observed, but for the star-crossed adulterers in The Real Thing, his smart and funny play which opened last night in a curiously anemic and uneven revival, it seems to hit every pothole its...

Read Post

"On the Town": It's a Helluva Show

(1) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 12:48 PM

The Bronx is still up and the Battery is still down, but the rest of this delightful new Broadway revival of On the Town has been given a facelift that turns the tale of three sailors looking for a night of romance into a sexy comedy romp enlivened by some...

Read Post