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The Rev. Sidney Lanier first tried to revive his dwindling congregation on the fringe of Manhattan’s Theater District by summoning actors to the pulpit to read stirring passages from the Bible and great literature. Then, in 1963, gutted the sanctuary of his church, St. Clement’s Episcopal, a brick Victorian Gothic edifice built in the 19th century, to make a home for the American Place Theater, an experimental stage company that he and two partners founded to showcase serious-minded new playwrights and actors.
Among the young artists who emerged in its productions in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s were Sam Shepard, Terrence McNally, Steve Tesich, David Mamet, Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Ellen Barkin, Eric Bogosian, and Sam Waterston.
Mr. Lanier died on Sept. 23 at 90 in Santa Barbara, Calif.