Steven Dietz

Steven Dietz (born June 23, 1958) is an American playwright and theatre director. Called "the most ubiquitous American playwright whose name you may never have heard",[1] Dietz has long been one of America's most prolific and widely produced playwrights.[2] In 2019, Dietz was named one of the 20 most-produced playwrights in America. [3]Though several of his plays have been seen Off-Broadway (including "Fiction", "Lonely Planet", "God's Country"), the vast majority of Dietz's plays are produced in American regional theaters. Seattle WA and Chicago IL are among the cities that have proved to be enduring homes for his work.[4][2] Seattle's ACT Theatre has produced 12 plays by Dietz, including 7 world premieres. This includes, most recently, a new variation on Dietz's widely-produced adaptation of "Dracula" - entitled "Dracula [Mina's Quest]" [5].[6] His new psychological thriller "How a Boy Falls", will premiere at Northlight Theatre, Chicago, in 2020. During the 2018-19 season, Dietz premiered two interlocking plays for adult and youth audiences, entitled "The Great Beyond" and "The Ghost of Splinter Cove." [7] During the 2015-16 season, Dietz premiered three new plays: "Bloomsday" (American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg New Play Award Citation),[8] "This Random World" (Humana Festival of New American Plays),[9][10] and the thriller "On Clover Road" (National New Play Network rolling world premiere).[11][12][13][14][15] Other recent plays include an intimate thriller, "The Shimmering"; the black comedy, "Rancho Mirage";[16] and a contemporary riff on Arthur Schnitzler's "Reigen" entitled "American la Ronde". Dietz's plays have been seen at nearly all of America's most prominent regional theatres, including: Steppenwolf Theatre (Chicago IL), Old Globe Theatre (San Diego CA), Actor's Theatre of Louisville (KY), Seattle Repertory Theatre (WA), Berkeley Repertory Theatre (CA), Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland), McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ), Alliance Theatre (Atlanta GA), the Dallas Theatre Center (TX), and the Denver Center Theatre Company. In 2010, Dietz was once again named one of the most produced playwrights in America (excluding Shakespeare), placing eighth on the list of the Top Ten Most Produced Playwrights in America, tied with Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee for number of productions.[17] Dietz's plays have been produced internationally in over twenty countries, and translated into a dozen languages. His work as a director has been seen Off-Broadway (Westside Arts), at major regional theaters (Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT Theatre - Seattle, Northlight Theatre - Chicago, Denver Center Theatre Company), as well as at the Sundance Institute and the Playwrights' Center - Minneapolis. In addition to teaching master classes in playwriting, story-making and collaboration around the United States, Dietz has taught in the MFA Playwriting and Directing programs at the University of Texas at Austin since 2006.[18] [19]

Life and career

Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Dietz graduated in 1980 with a B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Northern Colorado,[20] after which he moved to Minneapolis and began his career as a director of new plays at The Playwrights' Center and other local theaters. During these years he also formed a small theatre company (Quicksilver Stage) and began to write plays of his own. A commission from ACT Theatre to write "God's Country" brought him to Seattle, Washington in 1988, and he lived and worked in Seattle from 1991 to 2006. In 2006 he accepted a professorship at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2006, he and his family have divided their time between Austin and Seattle.

He is the recipient of the PEN U.S.A. Award in Drama (for Lonely Planet, perhaps his most widely performed work);[21] the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award (Fiction and Still Life With Iris); the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Award (The Rememberer); the Yomiuri Shimbun Award for his adaptation of Shusaku Endo's Silence; and the 2007 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Mystery for his adaptation of William Gillette's and Arthur Conan Doyle's 1899 play Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. Dietz is also a two-time finalist for the prestigious Steinberg New Play Award (for "Last of the Boys" and "Becky's New Car"), given by the American Theatre Critics Association. He was awarded the 2016 Steinberg New Play Award Citation for "Bloomsday."

Dietz's plays range from the political ("Last of the Boys", "God's Country", "Halcyon Days", "Lonely Planet") to the comedic ("Becky's New Car", "More Fun than Bowling", "Over the Moon"). Many of them, (e.g. "Trust", "Private Eyes", "Fiction", "Rancho Mirage") have as a central theme the effects of personal betrayal and deception. A recent obsession of Dietz's seems to be the return of the "thriller" to the contemporary theatre canon.[22] Examples include the conspiracy thriller, "Yankee Tavern"; the classic single-set thriller, "On Clover Road"; the intimate thriller, "The Shimmering"; and the psychological thriller, "How a Boy Falls." The majority of the plays are published (in acting editions) by either Dramatists Play Service (New York), or Samuel French, Inc., (New York). An anthology of Dietz's work for young audiences was published by UT Press in 2015.[23] Many of the short plays are also anthologized.

Dietz's work as a director has been seen at many of America's leading regional theatres. He has directed premiere productions of new plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Denver Center Theatre Company, Northlight Theatre (Chicago), ACT Theatre (Seattle), San Jose Repertory Theatre, City Theatre (Pittsburgh), Westside Arts (Off-Broadway), and the Sundance Institute, among many others. He was a resident director for ten years at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, where he also served as Artistic Director of Midwest PlayLabs.

Dietz's articles on new play development—most first seen in American Theatre Magazine[24]—have been widely discussed and re-printed.


Original plays (by year of first production)

  • Brothers and Sisters (1981)
  • Railroad Tales (1983)
  • Random Acts (1983)
  • Wanderlust (1984)
  • More Fun Than Bowling (1986)
  • Painting It Red (1986) (music by Gary Rue and Leslie Ball)
  • Burning Desire (1987) (short play)
  • Foolin' Around with Infinity (1987)
  • Ten November (1987) (music by Eric Bain Peltoniemi)
  • God's Country (1988)
  • Happenstance (1989) (music by Eric Bain Peltoniemi)
  • After You (1990) (short play)
  • Halcyon Days (1991)
  • To The Nines (1991) (short play)
  • Trust (1992)
  • Lonely Planet (1993)
  • Handing Down the Names (1994)
  • The Nina Variations (1996) (variations on the last scene of Chekhov's The Seagull)
  • Private Eyes (1996)
  • Still Life with Iris (1997)
  • Rocket Man (1998)
  • Fiction (2002)
  • Left to Right (2002) (short)
  • Inventing van Gogh (2004)
  • Last of the Boys (2004)
  • The Spot (2004) (short)
  • September Call-Up (2006) (short)
  • Yankee Tavern (2007)[25][26][27]
  • Shooting Star (2008)[28][29]
  • Becky's New Car (2008)[30][31]
  • Rancho Mirage (2012)[32]
  • Mad Beat Hip & Gone (2013) [33][34]
  • On Clover Road (2015)[12][35]
  • Bloomsday (2015)[36][37]
  • This Random World (2016)[38]
  • Drive All Night (2018) (short) [39]
  • The Great Beyond (2019) [40]
  • The Ghost of Splinter Cove (2019) [41]

Plays adapted from other sources


  1. critic, Chris Jones, Tribune arts. "Prolific playwright Dietz still goes with the flow". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  2. "Playwright Steven Dietz makes another visit to 'Lonely Planet'". The Seattle Times. November 1, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  4. Jones, Chris. "'On Clover Road' a new thriller by Steven Dietz, who calls Chicago 'my New York'". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  7. "Charlotte Theatres Join Forces to Produce Two Interconnected Plays". Children's Theatre of Charlotte. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved July 14, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Steven Dietz Sweetly Eludes Serendipity in THIS RANDOM WORLD". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  11. Sun-Times, Catey Sullivan-For the (February 8, 2019). "Smart and fast-paced, 'On Clover Road' delivers chills at nearly every turn". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  12. Irwin, Jay. "BWW Review: Seattle Public Theater's Blisteringly Intense ON CLOVER ROAD". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  13. "The Rolling World Premiere of ON CLOVER ROAD by Steven Dietz Continues at Phoenix Theater and San Francisco Playhouse | National New Play Network". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  14. Andrew White (July 13, 2015). "Theatre Review: 'On Clover Road' at Contemporary American Theater Festival". Maryland Theatre Guide.
  15. "Spine: Review of 'On Clover Road' at Contemporary American Theater Festival". DCMetroTheaterArts.
  16. "'Rancho Mirage' at Olney Theatre Center by Amanda Gunther". DCMetroTheaterArts.
  17. "Annual List of Most Produced Playwrights in America Reveals That... People Really Like Hitchcock?". The L Magazine.
  19. "Steven Dietz | Department of Theatre and Dance - The University of Texas at Austin". College of Fine Arts - University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  20. Michael Kuchwara. "Dietz's Plays Pop Up Everywhere, but Only Occasionally on Broadway." (Baton Rouge LA) The Advocate, September 5, 2004, p. M9.
  21. Farrington, Jan (February 7, 2019). "Review: Lonely Planet | Amphibian Stage Productions". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  23. "Steven Dietz Four Plays for Family Audiences Plays by Steven Dietz; edited by Coleman A. Jennings, including comments by Linda Hartzell and Susan Mickey, foreword by Kim Peter Kovac". February 22, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2019 via
  24. (1) "Doom Eager: Writing What We Need to Know", (2) "Developed to Death", (3) "An Audience Manifesto" American Theatre9.n9(Jan 1993):9(1).Expanded , and (4) "A Modest Proposal: On Training Directors for the New Century." American Theatre Magazine archives Archived March 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  25. Clawson, Kerry. "Review: None Too Fragile cast gets under skin with 'Yankee Tavern' conspiracy thriller". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  26. "Palm Beach Arts Paper review of Yankee Tavern". Palm Beach Arts Paper. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011.
  27. Kiley, Brendan. "The Oddities About 9/11 We Can't Explain Away". The Stranger. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  28. "Review: Shooting Star". The Austin Chronicle. March 20, 2009.
  30. Lynn Jacobson (October 27, 2008). "Review of Becky's New Car". Variety.
  31. "Regional News & Review of Becky's New Car". Talkin' Broadway. October 30, 2008.
  32. Juliet Wittman (November 7, 2013). "Comic illusions abound in Rancho Mirage". Westword.
  33. "THEATER REVIEW Mad Beat Hip and Gone - Gay Lesbian Bi Trans News Archive". Windy City Times. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  34. "Everybody knows what happened to Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady in "On the Road," but now playwright Steven Dietz shows us what happened to the two guys in the car behind them". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  35. BWW News Desk (May 6, 2015). "Steven Dietz's ON CLOVER ROAD and More Set for Contemporary American Theater Festival's 2015 Season".
  36. "'Bloomsday' a Breathtaking Play About Time, Love, Regret and Fateful Decisions". WTTW News. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  37. "'Bloomsday': lost love, Joyce and time travel". The Seattle Times. September 19, 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  38. Waits, Keith. "BWW Review: THIS RANDOM WORLD at the Humana Festival". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  39. Miller, Elissa. "A Tale of Two Plays: "The Ghost of Splinter Cove" and R". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  40. Toppman, Lawrence. "Review: To get the most out of these interlocking plays, you need to see them both". charlotteobserver. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  41. Jones, Chris; Jones, Chris (April 26, 1999). "Force of Nature". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  42. Pela, Robrt L. (October 23, 2003). "So Farce, So Good". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  43. Tom Williams (February 16, 2004). " Review of Paragon Springs". TimeLine Theatre Company.
  44. "'Honus and Me' brings the prolific playwright Dietz full circle in Seattle". Seattle P.I. March 31, 2006.
  45. "The Theater Loop: Chicago Theater News & Reviews - Chicago Tribune". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
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