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January 07, 2010


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I'm really psyched to see Rob Askins' Princes of Waco this weekend. I loved the workshop last year. He's got a great voice and it's a damn fine show.


I love Charles Busch so, so much.

I'm also RETARDED for some of Mac Wellman's less arty stuff, like "Cleveland" which is one of my favorite plays of all time, and "Sincerity Forever" which has the KKK and the drive-in for God's sake. Wonderful.

There's also a wonderful unknown playwright in New York that I love named Michael Yates Crowley whose play "Evanston: A Rare Comedy" was at the Underground Zero festival at PS 122 last year.


What about Rob's work do you like?
(asked as a genuine question, I don't know his writing well).

For my first post in this thread... I am going to sing the praises of Dan Trujillo. Dan and I have a long-standing collaboration, and one of the reasons i love his work is how mercurial his voice is. Every play he writes is very different from the one that went before, and yet they all are clearly written by the same artist. Dan has an obsession with language and how words are used that finds different permutations in all of his plays. ... The most obvious version of this was in Talk Of The Walk-Up, a play in rhyming verse where ever single character had their own unique slanguage.

I also love how concerned Dan is with the audience. He wants them to understand what he's doing, he wants them to have a good time, he wants to tell them a good story. It's not just about formal experimentation with him.



Yay! I heart Rob Askins.


I can't speak to all of Rob's work, but this play is really striking. It lives a bit in Shepard-land, but with a totally different ear. It's consistently surprising and genuine. I have a thing for earnest plays and this is definitely one of those.

Duncan Pflaster

Suzanne Bachner- her "We Call Her Benny" remains 2 of my favorite theatrical experiences (the original 30-minute version written for Frigid Festival, then the extended to full-length version), and "Sex Ed" was pretty awesome, too.

Also Craig Lucas, anytime.

Josh James

My buddy, Ato Essandoh ... he's an actor and doesn't write much anymore ... but he's a very fine playwright with a great ear ... he's written some hilarious short plays, but my favorite is his full length play BLACK THANG.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist!

I love Martin McDonagh. "The Pillowman" and "Beauty Queen of Leenane" are superb.

and also Suzan-Lori Parks, no doubt.

SAM SHEPARD as well!

there are many more living playwrights I admire, but I can't remember right now.


Although he’s stopped writing plays, he’s still living, so I’ll give a shout-out to Clive Barker. His plays are some of the most imaginative and downright theatrical I’ve ever seen or read. One of the most fun productions I was a part of was a college production of History of the Devil. When Pete Boisvert and I first moved to the city, we went to go see a production of Crazyface by the Lightning Strikes Theatre Co. and it still holds up as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in the city.

I just love the way he uses so many influences, ranging from commedia dell'arte, the Grand Guignol, Shakespeare, the Greek classics and Punch & Judy shows, to create something wholly original, the way he breaks the fourth-wall without being winkingly self-conscious, the way he juxtaposes the ridiculous with the horrific, and the way he evokes utter terror just from language alone. There’s a scene in Crazyface where three generals are standing on a hill witnessing and describing the massive carnage taking place below them in the valley. It’s so horrific and captivating, it’s easy to forget that you’re just watching three actors standing next to each other on a bare stage talking.


Jenny Schwartz!! I still cannot get God's Ear out of my head. A truly unique voice!


Kirk Wood Bromley is pretty spectacular, very much alive, and oddly underrated.

David Johnston is also a fantastic playwright.


Mike Geither - from a staged reading of "Stars Fell All Night" at BAPF years ago, an incredible play that still bothers me; Michael Frayn for "Copenhagen" (and that he also wrote "Noises Off!"; first prize for virtuosity but I'd nominate just for Copenhagen, first play ever that 'gets' science, the unhinged passions). And Cormac McCarthy for "The Sunset Limited" - I think this is a perfect play, a masterpiece - what depth, what theatre (and I don't read his novels, just love this play).


Adrienne Kennedy, who showed me that geeky black chicks existed who stayed up all night watching Bette Davis and who knew about family who slept with weapons under their pillow, the easeful and the dreamy, the sacred and the profane.

Before her, I didn't know black people could write like that, tell that kind of truth, turn the Last Mama on the Couch Play inside out. I can measure just how deeply my life sucked in 1996, because I *didn't* see her season at Signature. I hated myself that much.

Erik Ehn, whose Moira McOc is still an inspiration. I only saw it once, I've never seen it in print, but it told me *it could be done* -- that hardheaded poetic style I've been searching for, for decades. It was like seeing a mad scientist conduct a demonstration, making flesh live.

And Charles Busch, who has taken on the mantle of fabulousness from Charles Ludlam. God Save the Queen.

Josh James

I'd like to second whomever mentioned Mike Geither ... he and I were at Iowa at the same time, I acted in his play "80" and I thought he was a genius back then ... a truly unique voice.

Mr. K

Two Chicago playwrights whose work I love:
1. Lydia Diamond, whose Voyeurs De Venus is an amazing, nuanced excavation of race & gender & history.
2. Mia McCullough, who wrote a heartbreaking, funny and chilling play about adultery and desire called LUCINDA'S BED that just wrapped up a few months ago at Chicago Dramatist's.


Sorry if I'm double-commenting:

I'm saving this article for when I really, really need to be happy:

And Mr. Comtois, this is for you:

He checks in once in a while, in the wee small hours for the East Coast, but when he does, it's special -- and he keeps conversations going.

Ben T-S

This lady was in the news recently for lambasting critics of her newest show (a critique which, for the record, I thought was a little out of line).

That being said, I love Timberlake Wertenbaker. When I read "For the Love of the Nightingale" as a college student, I remember thinking, "wow, that's how theatre should be." Dangerous, a little brutal, dirty, funny, and heartbreaking.

Paul Rekk

Another one outta Chicago: Mickle Maher. The man makes the English language his bitch in a way that makes you wish you were the English language.

There was a point in The Strangerer in which I almost got up to see the play I was convinced he had also written that was taking place in the lobby. There wasn't any offstage sound, just a couple of characters who had exited to the lobby, but the presence of Maher's work is so full that it's hard to believe that any of it could stop even after it leaves the stage.

Daniel John Kelley

I haven't seen his other work, but I was really struck by A. Rey Pamatmat's "Thunder Above, Deeps Below" this past fall in NYC.

It was epic, and messy and heartfelt and funny. It used fantastical, magical and classically inspired theatricality to explore complicated contemporary questions and not give them easy answers.

Can't wait for his next play...


Bruce Norris, Glen Berger.
Love me some Young Jean Lee.
And so obvious that it should go without saying, but it doesn't: Caryl Churchill.


Clay McLeod Chapman. Duh.


You know what? I fucking love Sarah Ruhl. I do. The way she puts simple words together creates a poetry that just breaks my heart, and makes words seem different and magical and carries more meaning than the words could by themselves. She uses language and theatre to evoke feeling in a way that is powerful and almost just underneath conscious understanding, and I love that.

On sort of the other side, like Eric said, Glen Berger. He is so smart and full of ideas and his plays explode my mind and then manage to sneak into my heart. A reading of this insane, epic musical of his (a 60s spy thing about linguistic anthropology and also an adaptation of The Tempest?) completely blew my mind, and was also hilarious and captivating and moving.

I also love what Annie Baker does with awkwardness and silence and yearning.

Oh, and Itamar Moses. I love his stuff a lot. Some of the funniest, smartest, and full-of-heart-est stuff I've ever seen, and all in one place.


Lucas Hnath. I've been in a couple of his shows and he is the real deal, really great with story and one to watch for. If you see his name, see the show.


Mac Wellman. Totally off the map.
Oh, and Tina Howe. What a supportive, fun playwright.

Ian Thal

I'm sort of embarrassed that I'm having trouble thinking of any not already well known playwrights to put on my list despite having http://ianthal.blogspot.com/2009/12/modest-proposal.html>issued just such a challenge: I plead ignorance.

(If you follow the link, note that I wasn't very fair in my criticism of Isaac, and he rightly called me on that.)

But here we go with living playwrights who inspire me:

Dario Fo:interestingly enough, I don't think the most widely performed of his works (at least in Anglophone nations) are necessarily his greatest, but I am a huge fan of Elizabeth: By Chance A Woman and Johan Padan and the Discovery of the Americas.

Tom Stoppard: I love pretty much everything he does, but I don't know why Arcadia overshadows the similarly structured, but far superior India Ink. I also thought Rock'n'Roll was brilliant when I saw it in 2008.

Tony Kushner: Homebody/Kabul.

Michael Frayne: I'm with Lucy on Copenhagen. There's some poetry in the dialogue that conveys the gist of quantum mechanics.

I need to work on assembling a longer list!

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