- I discovered that performance can take place anywhere, under a wide variety of circumstances, and in the service of an incredibly diverse panoply of objectives.
Richard Schechner received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University in 1956, a Master's degree from the University of Iowa two years later, and a Ph. Schechner went on to become one of the founders of the Performance Studies department of the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.
He edited The Drama Review, formerly the Tulane Drama Review, from 1962–1969; and again from 1986 to the present.
Schechner combines his work in performance theory with innovative approaches to the broad spectrum of performance including theatre, play, ritual, dance, music, popular entertainments, sports, politics, performance in everyday life, etc.
in order to understand performative behavior not just as an object of study, but also as an active artistic-intellectual practice.
While in New Orleans from 1960–67, Schechner was a producing director with John O'Neal and Gilbert Moses of the Free Southern Theater (1963–65) and a founding director with Franklin Adams and Paul Epstein of the New Orleans Group (1964–67).
Schechner was instrumental in identifying many exceptional writers, including Sam Shepard, Jean-Claude Van Itallie, Murray Mednick, Ronald Tavel and Canadian-trained Megan Terry, whose techniques he compared to Shakespeare.
With East Coast Artists, Schechner has directed Faust/gastronome (1993), Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters (1995), William Shakespeare's Hamlet (1999), and Schechner's and Saviana Stanescu's Yokasta S (2003, Yokasta S Redux 2005), Lian Amaris's Swimming to Spalding (2009), Imagining O (three versions: 2011, 2012, 2014).
Schechner has also directed in Asia and Africa: Anton Chekhov's Cherry ka Baghicha (1983 in Hindi) in New Delhi, Sun Huizhu's Mingri Jiuyao Chu Shan (1989 in Shanghai in Mandarin) August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1992) at the Grahamstown Festival, South Africa, Aeschylus's The Oresteia (1995 in Taipei in Mandarin), and Shakespeare's Hamlet (2007 in Shanghai and 2009 in Wroclaw, Poland, in Mandarin).
His books include Public Domain, Environmental Theater, Performance Theory, The Future of Ritual, Between Theater and Anthropology, Performance Studies: An Introduction, and Performed Imaginaries.
As of 2018, his books have been translated into 18 languages.