All the female playwrights who have had plays on Broadway
Many of these women have won Tonys, Pulitzers, and more for their work.
We love women. We love plays. And we really love plays written by women. While there have not been nearly enough female-written and led plays on Broadway — those that have made their Great White Way debuts are pretty badass (as you can expect).
Learn all about the female playwrights of Broadway below.
Get tickets to a Broadway show on New York Theatre Guide.
At 91, Adrienne Kennedy finally made her long overdue Broadway debut. She's not a new playwright by any means, though — Kennedy has been an Off-Broadway trailblazer for decades. She won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Obie Awards in 2008 and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame 10 years later. Kennedy is known for unconventional, symbolic work about the Black experience, and her shows, like Funnyhouse of a Negro, are modern classics often studied in schools. Broadway audiences finally got to see Kennedy's work with the crime thriller Ohio State Murders in 2022.
Did you know the iconic murder mystery writer is also a prolific playwright? Between 1932 and 1936, she had five plays on Broadway, three of which she wrote herself (the others were based on her novels, but adapted by other playwrights). Arguably her most famous play, though, is The Mousetrap, which has played in London for over 70 years and is the longest-running play in the world. The show has had other limited runs around the world, and in 2023, this suspenseful show finally debuts on Broadway.
Alice Childress is one of the only African American female playwrights in history to have written, produced, and published works for over 40 years. Childress grew up in both South Carolina and Harlem; her passion for theatre kickstarted after high school graduation — and we're all better because of it.
She worked for years as an actress, performing on Broadway in the longest-running all-Black play Anna Lucasta in 1944. Her first piece as a playwright was Florence, a one-act play she wrote in response to her fellow actors who said that violence is the only interesting thing onstage when a story's about Black and white people. Of course, she proved them wrong.
After Florence she wrote other plays and worked to bring Harlem's first off-Broadway all-union contracts into practice. Other plays by Childress like Gold Through the Trees and Trouble in Mind continued to make history throughout NYC's off-Broadway scene. And although she passed away in 1994 — it's never too late for a Broadway playwrighting debut. In 2021, Roundabout Theatre Company is set to stage Trouble in Mind on Broadway.
A true New Yorker makes her way to Broadway and we couldn't be more obsessed.
Bess Wohl grew up in Brooklyn before leaving the city (just for a bit) to go to some random schools named Harvard and Yale for English and Acting, respectively. Her Yale play Cats Talk Back made its way to New York's Fringe Festival where it won Best Overall Production. And thus began a super successful playwrighting career that we're all better for.
In 2015 her play Pretty Filthy ran off-Broadway, where it was nominated for both Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards and established Wohl as a to-watch talent in New York theatre. After that came another off-Broadway hit — Small Mouth Sounds — at both Ars Nova in 2015 and Signature Theatre in 2016.
And then came Wohl's Broadway debut. In 2019 her play Grand Horizons opened at the Hayes Theater starring Priscilla Lopez, Ashley Park, and Michael Urie.
Now, she's helping bring theatre back to NYC in 2021 via the new outdoor production called Seven Deadly Sins.
Caryl Churchill got her start in playwriting while in university at Oxford in the 1960s. During her time in school, she had four plays staged and one of which — Downstairs — won first prize at a student festival. She was a top talent from the start.
After university, Churchill continued to work on new plays while also raising a family and writing radio dramas and pieces for television. Essentially, she was a superhero. In 1972, her first professionally staged play premiered in London and only two years later she was named as the Royal Court Theatre's first female playwright in residence. 1979 was the first time her work really gained notice across the pond; Cloud 9 came to New York after a London run, where it won an Obie Award for Best Play.
From there, Churchill's career began to soar. Top Girls, which is about women making compromises to ascend in male-dominated spheres, won her another Obie Award in 1983, the satire Serious Money came to Broadway in 1988, and productions of A Mouthful of Birds and The Skriker cemented her place in playwriting history as a one-of-a-kind voice.
And when we say one-of-a-kind, we mean one-of-a-kind. Here's a bit about some other Churchill works: A Number is about human cloning; Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? is only 45-minutes with no intermission and a levitating couch; Love and Information contains some scenes that are only one-minute and each director can decide the order of the scenes; and her 2019 play Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp. is four short plays staged together in one night. It feels silly to call Churchill a visionary when she's so much more than that, but we'll leave the good writing to her.
Christina Anderson was one of three bookwriters for the 2022 musical Paradise Square. The show marked her Broadway debut and, when she and her co-writers got nominated for the Best Book of a Musical Tony Award, made her only the seventh Black woman in history to get that nomination.
On this website, Danai Gurira is a playwright first and an actor in Black Panther and The Walking Dead (and a bunch of other stuff, too) second. Gurira was born in America and raised in Zimbabwe; after graduating from college she taught playwriting and acted in a production of Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf, who's another playwright on this list!
Gurira uses playwriting to help strengthen her skills as an actor but that doesn't mean it's just another hobby. Throughout her career she's written works for Playwrights Horizons, the Royal Court, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and other huge institutions around the world. Prior to her playwriting Broadway debut, her most acclaimed plays were In the Continuum, The Convert, and Familiar.
Now comes Eclipsed. The play, set in war-torn Liberia, tells the stories of women who have been forced into sex slavery. Gurira interviewed dozens of women to help craft her work and when Eclipsed's first production opened at The Public Theater in 2015, it was the theatre's fastest-selling new play in years. Gurira's Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong'o led both the off-Broadway cast and Broadway cast when the show transferred in 2016. Nominated for five Tony Awards, it was the first all-Black and all-female cast and creative team on Broadway. Ever.
We've got another crossover moment on our hands. Dominique Morisseau got her start in theatre on the stage — and one of the first shows she worked on after college was a workshop of Katori Hall's The Mountaintop. Wouldn't you have loved to have been in that room?
Before The Mountaintop moment, Morisseau was already writing plays of her own. She began playwriting in college at the University of Michigan, after noticing the lack of roles available to her.
Since then (but before her Broadway debut), Morisseau's most-acclaimed works have been a trio of plays called The Detroit Projects. These stories have been staged at beloved institutions like The Public Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Atlantic Theatre Company. All three plays have won various awards and made Morisseau a one-to-watch name in playwriting.
The recognition continued, rightly so, when Morisseau wrote the book for Ain't Too Proud, the Broadway musical about The Temptations in 2019. This credit marked her Broadway debut and made Morisseau the first Black woman to ever be nominated for the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. (Her old pal Katori Hall, see below, followed in her footsteps soon after, earning a Tony Award nomination for her work on the book of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.)
And Morisseau will be back on Broadway next season when her play Skeleton Crew, the final installment in her Detroit series, debuts on Broadway in Winter 2022.
We're lucky to have Katori Hall's work on Broadway. The playwright and activist's first major work — The Mountaintop — opened on Broadway in 2011 after major critical acclaim and awards during the show's London productions. The story centers on Martin Luther King Jr.'s last night in Memphis before his assassination; the Broadway production starred Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.
Her second Broadway show came in 2019 when she wrote the book for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Her work garnered her a Tony Award nomination and the show itself was sold out nearly every night before the pandemic closed theatres.
Want to see Hall's work from home? She's adapted her play Pussy Valley — about a strip club in Mississippi — into a hit television show called P-Valley that you can watch on Starz.
Larissa FastHorse does it all: she's a playwright, screenwriter, and choreographer. She is represented with The Thanksgiving Play in spring 2023, making her the first female Native American playwright to ever be produced on Broadway. The show follows a non-Indigenous, amateur theatre troupe's attempts to put on a culturally sensitive Thanksgiving school pageant, and it received rave reviews for its Off-Broadway premiere.
Truth be told, Lillian Hellman's (and every woman on the list's) life deserves way more than the few paragraphs are written out here. Hellman was a political activist who was blacklisted from Hollywood, the first female to ever receive an individual Academy Award nomination for screenwriting, a writer of memoirs that turned out to probably not be true, and a very accomplished playwright. For the sake of length, we're going to focus on the playwriting henceforth.
In 1934, when Hellman was in her early 30s, her play The Children's Hour premiered on Broadway and ran for over two years; the success of this show helped ignite her success in Hollywood. Her 1936 play Days to Come closed after a week on Broadway, embroiled in the same political controversy that would carry through the rest of her career.
In 1938, The Little Foxes — arguably Hellman's most famous play — opened on Broadway. Based on Hellman's own relatives, the show's most recent adaptation in 2017 starred Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon, who alternated in the lead roles. Nixon won a Tony Award for her performance.
Despite the many moments of real-life drama in Hellman's life (see: blacklisted in Hollywood), she continued to find success on Broadway for many years. Other well-received Broadway works of hers include The Autumn Garden (Hellman's favorite) in 1951 and Toys in the Attic in 1960. The latter received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play and that's not even the best fact about it. During rehearsals, every time Hellman didn't like something onstage, she would simply cough, and her cough was enough to have the entire room afraid of her.
Without Alison Bechdel, we wouldn't have the memoir Fun Home and without Lisa Kron we wouldn't have the musical Fun Home. Thank goodness for both of them, are we right?
Just a quick aside before we jump into Kron's Broadway career: When she first moved to New York City in the 1980s, she became a founding member of a theatre company called The Five Lesbian Brothers. Okay, that's all.
Kron's first work to premiere on Broadway was the autobiographical play Well in 2007. It's about moms and daughters and wellness and the messiness of all of those things when they're separate and when they come together. Kron acted in the play alongside another woman we're forever grateful for, Jayne Houdyshell. Both women received Tony Award nominations because, obviously, they're Lisa Kron and Jayne Houdyshell.
In 2013 — as Kron was acting in The Public Theater production of Good Person of Szechwan — her new musical Fun Home was also premiering at the same iconic NYC spot. (And we bother to complain about having to run two errands on the same day.) Anyway, Fun Home eventually transferred to Broadway where it grabbed the hearts of basically every person who ever sat in that theatre, was nominated for so many Tony Awards and won a bunch too (including Best Musical), and is the first show we would like to see revived when Broadway is back thank you very much.
Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori also became the first all-female writing team to win the Tony Award for Best Score, and Fun Home was the first musical written entirely by women to win the Tony for Best Musical. (Hadestown would follow a few years later!)
Lorraine Hansberry was a leader from the start. She grew up in a house that fought for change in Chicago (her family was a part of a Supreme Court decision after they moved to a predominately white neighborhood), joined the Communist Party in college, and immediately became a political activist upon moving to New York as an adult.
Before her words were ever performed onstage, starting in 1951, Hansberry was a writer for the Black newspaper Freedom in NYC. Beyond writing stories for the paper and assisting elsewhere, she also was tasked with writing scripts for rallies and pageants that the paper held. In fact, one of her script collaborators for one year's pageant was Alice Childress herself.
When Hansberry was 29 in 1957 — A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway. Not only was she the first Black female playwright to have a play produced on Broadway but she was also the youngest American playwright ever to reach this feat. The show was nominated for four Tony Awards and it catapulted Hansberry's career.
In 1964, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window was her second and final show to take the Broadway stage. Hansberry was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the year before and unfortunately died on the night of this show's final performance. Her legacy as a writer and political activist remains prevalent in theatre circles around the country and world.
Lucy Prebble is behind some of the best TV we've seen in years — I Hate Suzie, Succession — so it's no wonder her talent extends to the stage, too. The British playwright's first professional work, The Sugar Syndrome, premiered at the Royal Court in 2003.
Her stage career then intertwined with the screen (it was during this time she created her first project with Billie Piper, Secret Diary of a Call Girl) before Prebble wrote the play ENRON in 2009. Based on the collapse of the American company, ENRON first opened in London before transferring to Broadway with a cast that included Norbert Leo Butz and Marin Mazzie. While the show had been a hit in London, its run in NYC was short and (bitter)sweet.
Prebble's work has continued to grace stages since ENRON, including an off-Broadway production of The Effect (again, with Billie Piper) and an Olivier-nominated adaptation of A Very Expensive Poison in 2018.
Lynn Nottage is a definitive icon. She's been a playwright for over two decades, is a professor at Columbia University in New York, is a graduate of both Brown and Yale, and her plays have been nominated for so many awards the section on Wikipedia takes up the whole screen. Oh — and she's a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, the only female playwright to have won twice.
Nottage's first Pulitzer Prize for Drama win came from the play Ruined in 2009. Ruined follows women living through the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and premiered in Chicago before opening off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club.
Other notable works Nottage wrote before her Broadway debut (and second Pulitzer) include Intimate Apparel (it's now one of the most-produced plays in America!) in 2004 and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark in 2011.
And now it's time for Sweat, a story about factory workers in Pennsylvania, that earned her her second Pulitzer. The play premiered in Oregon, then opened in D.C., before going to The Public Theater. And then at long last, Lynn Nottage made her Broadway debut when Sweat transferred to Broadway in 2016.
Up next for Nottage? Her play Clyde's is making its way to Second Stage Theater in the fall of 2021 (Pulitzer Prize winner Kate Whoriskey is directing!). And after that — she's written the book for the new Michael Jackson musical that's set to open on Broadway in 2022.
(Also, if she wasn't already an icon, remember that time Twitter saved her after she got stuck in the bathroom at Lincoln Center? Absolute legend.)
Without Marsha Norman, we wouldn't have The Secret Garden, The Color Purple, or The Bridges of Madison County. So, how did she get her start? By casually winning a Pulitzer Prize, of course.
Before her Broadway debut, Norman wrote two plays — Getting Out and Circus Valentine — that were extremely successful and tackled topics from the effects of prison time to circus cast members. She then wrote 'night, Mother in 1983, an intense play about a mother-daughter relationship and death. The original Broadway cast starred Kathy Bates and Anne Pitoniak, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was nominated for four Tony Awards. A movie adaptation was made in 1986 and a Broadway revival with Edie Falco and Brenda Blethyn was produced in 2004.
Norman then went on to write more works for Broadway, including the book and lyrics for The Secret Garden in 1991, the book for The Color Purple in 2005, and the book for The Bridges of Madison County in 2014. And that's like only a third of her entire CV. May we all be as talented and productive as Marsha Norman.
Martyna Majok makes her Broadway debut in fall 2022 with her play Cost of Living. But she's already established a successful career off Broadway. Cost of Living won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize, and in 2021, her play Sanctuary City received widespread critical acclaim and multiple Off-Broadway awards nominations. Her other works include Ironbound and Queens — maybe one of those will come to Broadway someday.
Ntozake Shange's first professional piece is one that will be carried through generations for years. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf was originally produced off-Broadway before it quickly came to Broadway in 1976. At that time and now, it was a one-of-a-kind production.
For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf is a choreopoem — a type of art coined by Shange that's a combination of poetry, music, and choreography. The play is actually 20 separate poems about love and sisterhood, woven together to create a full piece via movement. When For Colored Girls... opened, Shange became the second Black female playwright to reach Broadway, after Lorraine Hansberry. The play was nominated for Best Play at the Tony Awards.
Throughout the rest of her career, Shange had additional works produced at The Public Theater, Symphony Space, in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and beyond.
When your Broadway debut is a show like Indecent, you know you've gotta be one of the best. However, why it took so long for Paula Vogel to get to Broadway, we'll never know.
Vogel is a teacher first, playwright second. She's spent most of her career teaching at prestigious universities like Brown and Yale while also writing acclaimed works of theatre.
While she was a professor but prior to her Broadway debut, Vogel had a number of prominent off-Broadway and regional premieres. There was Desdemona with J. Smith-Cameron and Cherry Jones in 1993, And Baby Makes Seven the same year (which she also directed), Hot 'N Throbbing in 1994, and The Mineola Twins in 1999 which opened in Alaska before coming to New York.
How I Learned to Drive, however, is arguably the most well-known Vogel work behind Indecent. The show originally premiered off-Broadway in 1997 with Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse and it won Vogel the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (We love how often we're getting to type the word "Pulitzer" in this article.)
The story, like many of Vogel's plays, is a difficult — on purpose — examination of sexual abuse and other topics. Before the pandemic closed Broadway, original stars of the off-Broadway staging were set to reprise their roles in a Broadway production.
And on to Indecent. This play with music transferred to Broadway in 2017 after a Yale commission and off-Broadway run. The play tells the story of the play God of Vengeance's controversial 1923 Broadway production. Katrina Lenk was in the show which we love to talk about because we love Katrina Lenk. You can watch it on BroadwayHD!
Quiara Alegría Hudes
There's no In the Heights without Quiara Alegría Hudes. The playwright worked her magic to weave dialogue throughout Lin-Manuel Miranda's music. The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2008 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. And it's only one of many projects Hudes has led.
After going to school for playwriting, Hudes had two back-to-back off-Broadway standouts. Yemaya's Belly won awards around the country in 2003 and in 2007 Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue was a Pulitzer Prize finalist with a rave review in The New York Times. Before and after In the Heights, Hudes has also had works staged at institutions like The Kennedy Center and Second Stage, stars like Daphne Rubin-Vega and Samira Wiley have led her shows, and — as if the two previously mentioned Pulitzer Prize nominations weren't enough — Hudes's play Water by the Spoonful won her the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2012.
What do Abraham Lincoln, one of the first female doctors in Illinois, graduating high school at 13, and David Belasco have in common? They are all — in one way or another — a part of Rachel Crothers journey to becoming a playwright legend. Go ahead and Google her to learn more about her pre-Broadway days; you won't regret it.
After moving to New York City in 1899 to work as an actress and writer, Crothers had her playwriting Broadway debut in 1906 with The Three of Us. A fun/sad fact: the show was staged at Madison Square Theatre which was a Broadway stage on 24th street (pretty far from what we call the Theater District now) before it was demolished to become an office building.
Crothers was way ahead of her time in terms of discussing women's issues and exploring the female point of view in her work. For example, her 1920 Broadway play He and She challenges the gender roles within a marriage, the 1921 comedy Nice People is about flappers, and her greatest hit Susan and God is all about a woman who decides she wants to leave her family to become an evangelist. Iconic!
Crothers directed, staged, and cast a lot of her own shows and the shows of other female playwrights. Because of her efforts to bring women to theatre, we get to enjoy the work of so many other playwrights on this list (and beyond). And to finish this blurb, here's a quote from Crothers herself: "For a woman, it is best to look to women for help; women are more daring, they are glad to take the most extraordinary chances."
As if we didn't have enough reason to love Paula Vogel, she is the reason Sarah Ruhl is a playwright. Ruhl's dreams of becoming a poet were quickly rewritten to focus on plays after she took a class from Vogel at Brown University.
Almost immediately after receiving her MFA in Playwriting in 2001, Ruhl started worked consistently across the country. She's been commissioned by theatres across the country to adapt work from Virginia Woolf and Anton Chekov, as well as write original work of her own. In New York City, she's written many plays for prestigious off-Broadway theatres like Lincoln Center and Playwrights Horizons. Some of her most well-known off-Broadway plays include Pulitzer Prize finalist The Clean House at Lincoln Center, Eurydice at Second Stage, Passion Play (which she started while Paula Vogel's student at Brown), and Dead Man's Cell Phone with Mary-Louise Parker, at Playwrights Horizons.
Ruhl's Broadway debut (and only Broadway play — so far) came in 2009. In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) is about the history of vibrators, motherhood, jealously, and lots more. The show was nominated for three Tony Awards and starred Laura Benanti and Maria Dizzia.
If there's one thing Selina Fillinger has, it's range. In 2019, she made her Off-Broadway debut with Something Clean, a somber drama about a mother struggling to cope after her son is charged with assault. And in 2022, she made her Broadway debut with POTUS, a star-studded, hilarious, off-the-walls farce about the women tasked with wrangling a problematic president's flubs. We don't know what the playwright will come out with next, but having premiered both these shows by age 30, she's got plenty of career ahead of her to keep experimenting with different genres.
Sophie Treadwell was born in 1885, making her one of the earliest playwrights on this list and a likely role model for many of the writers who followed in her footsteps.
Treadwell grew up in California, where she first went to the theatre with her father, and once even saw Sarah Bernhardt herself in a production of The Merchant of Venice. She graduated college with a major in Letters which we just had to callout because who majors in Letters nowadays? During and after her time at Berkeley, Treadwell worked lots of odd jobs to help pay her way through. No doubt her determination post-grad to find a career in the arts — she performed as a vaudeville singer, trained in acting — helped lead her to success as a playwright.
As if she wasn't cool enough: during the peak of Treadwell's career as a playwright she was also a suffragist in New York City. She advocated for women's rights, writer's rights, birth control access, and women's sexual freedom. An icon!
It's no wonder that most of her 39 plays feature a lady in the leading role. Seven of those plays made their way to Broadway in the early 20th century; Gringo was the first in 1922 and Machinal — about a women who has an affair and murders her husband — is arguably her best known. The male producers Treadwell worked with on Broadway said she was difficult because she didn't want to make their edits or take their advice which simply makes us adore her more.
Like Sophie Treadwell, Susan Glaspell's words came to the stage long before many of the other female writers who've made it to Broadway. Beyond that, the trajectory of their careers is quite different, although there's a good chance they crossed paths one time or another in NYC.
After growing up in small towns, Glaspell went to Drake University in Iowa, during a time when women rarely received an education beyond high school. At Drake and in her early career as a reporter, she continuously dominated male-dominated spaces and made a name for herself in the industry. When she was 24 she decided to focus on fiction, and during that time she met her husband at a group for local writers, they fell in love, and moved to the Big Apple. And that's when theatre enters the picture.
Glaspell became a part of the city's avant-garde movement, which led her to help form an experimental theatre company in Provincetown during the 1915 summer. This eventually would become the Provincetown Playhouse, a theatre focused on contemporary issues and a space that's not interested in being associated (or transferred to) with Broadway.
Like Sophie Treadwell, Glaspell's work was oftentimes written with a feminist lens. Three titles that have since become cemented in American theatre history are Trifles, Inheritors, and The Verge. Not only did Glaspell write these pieces and others for the Playhouse, but she also received acclaim for her many performances on stage. When she wasn't writing her own work or acting for the theatre, Glaspell discovered new talent's plays to stage including pieces by Eugene O'Neill and Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Glaspell was vehemently anti-mainstream theatre. However, whether she liked it or not, that didn't keep Broadway totally away from her work. Her 1931 Pulitzer Prize-winning piece Alison's House — inspired by Emily Dickinson's life — had a two-week run on Broadway in 1930. If anything we're glad for those two weeks just so that we could talk about Glaspell's life here.
May we all strive to be as disciplined and motivated as Suzan-Lori Parks, who tasked herself with writing a play every day at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and is getting those plays produced at The Public Theater in 2022. Also in 2022, her Pulitzer Prize-winning play Topdog/Underdog is getting a Broadway revival, and a new musical, The Harder They Come, is also going up off Broadway at the Public. Though Topdog/Underdog and an adaptation of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess are the only two Broadway shows in her decades-long career, she's proven herself a formidable talent whose works are sure to keep getting produced widely.
Sometimes, one show is all it takes to make an indelible name for yourself. Such was the case for Suzie Miller, who made her West End debut with her one-woman legal drama Prima Facie in London. Her writing and a tour-de-force performance from Emmy winner Jodie Comer made it a must-see, sold-out event that was even filmed and broadcast in theatres worldwide. And in spring 2023, with Comer again in the lead role, Miller will make her Broadway debut with the show. It follows a defense attorney who faces an ethical and emotional dilemma when she finds herself the victim of an assault and sees the legal system from the other side.
Don't you dare put Theresa Rebeck in a box: she's so much more than the executive producer of "Smash" on NBC!
The insanely accomplished playwright and television writer kickstarted her career with not one, not two, not three, but four degrees. With that work ethic, it's no surprise that when Rebeck made her way to New York, she had numerous works staged on prestigious off-Broadway stages around the city. Her plays have been produced at Manhattan Theater Club, Second Stage Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, and in theatres around the country like the Pasadena Playhouse.
In regards to Broadway, Rebeck's words attract some pretty big stars. When Mauritius opened in 2007 it featured Bobby Cannavale and Alison Pill, Alan Rickman and Hamish Linklater led Seminar in 2011, and her most recent Broadway play Bernhardt/Hamlet starred Janet McTeer.
Wendy Wasserstein was the youngest of five to a rich Brooklyn textile executive father and Polish immigrant mother who escaped her country after her father was accused of being a spy. How could she not become a playwright after a childhood like that?
Wasserstein had a lot of degrees under her belt, one of which was an MFA from Yale. Before she graduated from that program in 1976, she wrote a play called Uncommon Women and Others. And literally a year after her graduation that play was staged off-Broadway with Glenn Close as a star. And then the play was adapted into a PBS movie with Meryl Streep. Wendy Wasserstein was so cool.
Her most famous work is likely The Heidi Chronicles, a play that earned her both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize in 1989. Like so many of the badass women on this list, Wasserstein's plays oftentimes dealt with feminist topics and female leads; The Heidi Chronicles was no exception.
Before her death in 2006, Wasserstein wrote a total of 11 plays, including the Broadway titles The Sisters Rosensweig and An American Daughter and the off-Broadway plays Old Money and the final new play staged while she was alive, Third. She's thought of as an "author of women's identity crises" and we're forever grateful for her words.
Born in France, Yasmina Reza's career as a writer (and briefly as an actor) has flourished in her home country for decades. And rightly so; her satirical plays oftentimes tackle topics that feel relevant to the audience.
Conversations after a Burial was her first play to be professionally staged in France and won her the French version of the Tony Award in 1987, called a Molière. After that, she continued to win Molière Awards for her work and many more works were staged throughout the world.
In 1994 her play Art premiered in Paris, moved to London — where it won an Olivier, and then Art made its way to Broadway in 1998. The Broadway production won the Tony Award for Best Play and starred Alan Alda, Victor Garber, and Alfred Molina as three best friends.
Reza wasn't stopping with Art for Best Play Tony Awards. In 2007, after productions in Switzerland and London, God of Carnage opened on Broadway with James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, and Marcia Gay Harden. As if that cast wasn't sparkly enough, all four performances were nominated for Tony Awards, too, and Reza won her second Tony for Best Play. (Reza is only one of two woman who have won the award and the only to have won twice.)
Young Jean Lee
Whenever someone is the "first" to do something that should've been done a long time ago, it's a bittersweet thing. But that doesn't mean that it's not worth celebrating that in 2018, Young Jean Lee became the first Asian-American woman to have a play produced on Broadway.
Before that historic Broadway debut came years and years of writing for iconic institutions like The Public Theater, Lincoln Center, and Soho Repertory Theater. The work that came out of these productions has also been staged around the world. Literally name a big city and Lee's words have likely been performed there.
Back to the Broadway debut. Straight White Men was built around numerous interviews Lee conducted with people who were not straight white men. The result? A poignant yet funny depiction of straight white men. The show was first produced at The Public Theater in 2014; the show then went to Chicago's acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre before coming to Broadway with a cast that included Josh Charles and Paul Schneider.
Pictured: Katori Hall
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